Decomposed body in boat washed up on remote Pacific island

A file photo taken on March 3, 2014, shows a high tide energized by storm surging washes across Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. Climate change will dominate discussions when the leaders of vulnerable Pacific nations hold their annual meeting in the Samoan capital Apia starting 05 September, 2017, with global warming threatening their existence, officials say. The 18-member Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) includes countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, which are only metres above sea level and risk being swamped by rising oceans. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2017

Decomposed body in boat washed up on remote Pacific island

MAJURO, Marshall Islands: A decomposed body, believed to be Mexican or Colombian, has been found in a washed up boat on a remote Pacific island, officials said Wednesday, raising the possibility it had drifted 9,400 kilometers (5,800 miles) from Latin America.
The remains were in a six-meter (20 feet), blue fiberglass vessel with a 150 horsepower engine that was found on Likiep Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Authorities believe there may have been three people on board — one from Mexico and two from Colombia — based on identity cards found.
“The body was really decomposed, so we couldn’t identify it with the ID cards we found on the boat,” Likiep Atoll Mayor Veronica Wase said.
The IDs were for a Mexican and two Colombians — one of whom was a fisherman for “ornamental fish” according to another document found on the boat.
Two fishermen from Likiep found the boat last Friday and alerted local officials with Wase calling in government, law enforcement and health officials from the capital Majuro.
The body was left on the atoll, 386 kilometers north of Majuro, until it was cremated earlier this week to avoid any health problems for local residents, authorities said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff said they were communicating with the Mexican embassy in the Philippines about the find.
Three years ago an El Salvadoran, Jose Alvarenga, survived 14 months adrift from Mexico, floating into Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands on a similar size fiberglass boat.
Another fisherman with Alvarenga died during the voyage.
In 2006, three Mexicans were rescued near the Marshalls after drifting for more than nine months.

Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

Updated 26 May 2019

Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

  • Only the Afghans ‘can decide upon the future of their country’

KABUL, BERLIN: Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with US officials since October about withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process toward a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan — and Germany is one of them — together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end, only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief US negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a cease-fire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.



● At least 3,804 Afghan civilians were killed in the war last year. ● 14,000 US troops are still stationed in Afghanistan.

“We realize that US-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolution. 

The EU and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.


Captives subjected to abuse

Afghan captives held by the Taliban have been subjected to abuse, ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture, the UN said on Sunday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban, mainly members of Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the insurgents.

The group was freed on April 25 when Afghan troops raided a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas Uruzgan district in southern Uruzgan province.

Most of the captives were held since 2018, with three since 2016, the UNAMA statement said, adding they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor. It cites the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.

“I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detention,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of UNAMA.

The detainees were shackled while in captivity and almost all said they were beaten. The Taliban told them it was punishment for supporting the government, working with the Americans or fighting the insurgents.