At least 6 killed in C.African violence flare-up

Photo showing the father and brother of a civilian said to have been killled clashes between MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission) peacekeepers and PK5 armed groups, PK5 district of Bangui, April 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 01 May 2018
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At least 6 killed in C.African violence flare-up

Bangui: At least 6 people were killed and nearly a hundred wounded on Tuesday in clashes between militia and security forces in the capital of the Central African Republic, sources said.
The UN mission MINUSCA said it stepped up patrols after the fighting erupted in Bangui’s mainly Muslim PK5 district, an area that has become a flashpoint in a country weakened by sectarian violence and dogged by militia rule.
Security sources in PK5 said a shootout started after men in a militia group which is led by an individual calling himself Force rammed through a roadblock.
Hospital sources said at least 16 people died, including a priest and a child, while 96 people were being treated for wounds.
The priest was named as Toungoumale Baba, who died in the nearby district of Fatima, a church source said earlier. There were no immediate details about the circumstances of his death.
As hostile crowds gathered at various points in the city, UN mission MINUSCA said it sent patrols “to secure the [PK5] zone and other key points” in Bangui.
It also sent a patrol to the district of Lakouanga, where a mosque was set on fire by demonstrators, MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro told AFP.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a statement saying “an angry crowd gathered in front of the gates” at Sica hospital.
It appealed for “hospitals to be respected,” regardless of individual religious or politcal affiliations.
The incident came after hours-long clashes in PK5 on April 10 killed 28 people, including a UN peacekeeper, and left more than 100 wounded.
According to MINUSCA, the fighting began when a joint patrol of Rwandan UN troops and the Central African army was attacked on the district’s outskirts as they pursued a security sweep against militia groups.
In a dramatic protest, local people brought in 17 bloodied corpses with bullet wounds and laid them in front of the UN base in the center of Bangui.
They said those who died were simply unarmed civilians — a version contested by MINUSCA, which is struggling to overcome accusations of inaction and sexual abuse by some of its troops in the past.
One of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries, the CAR spiralled into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka.
France intervened militarily from 2013 to 2016 to push out the Seleka, winding down the operation after Bozize’s successor, Faustin-Archange Touadera, was elected president.
But despite UN backing, Touadera can only claim to control a fraction of the country.
The rest is in the sway of ex-rebels and vigilante militias, many of them claiming to act in the name of the Muslim or Christian community.
Tensions within the PK5 district, a major economic hub, have been running high for months, stoked by resentment among traders over demands to pay protection money to so-called self-defense groups.


More than 100 China experts urge China to release Canadians

In this file photo an undated picture released on December 11, 2018 in Washington by the International Crisis Group shows former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 46 sec ago
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More than 100 China experts urge China to release Canadians

  • More than 20 diplomats from seven countries and more than 100 scholars and academics from 19 countries signed

TORONTO: More than 100 academics and former diplomats are calling on China to release two Canadians who have been detained in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in Canada.
The letter by a wide array of China experts from around the world is addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. It says the arrests of the two Canadians sends a worrisome signal to those who work in policy and research in China.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of US authorities.
Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The US wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
The letter, released Monday, notes Kovrig is a former diplomat who was working as an expert on Asia for the International Crisis Group think tank. It notes that Spavor devoted his time to building relationships between North Korea and China, Canada and United States.
It praises Kovrig and Spavor as bridge-builders between China and the world and said their arrests make writers “more cautious” about traveling to China.
“Meetings and exchanges are the foundation of serious research and diplomacy around the world, including for Chinese scholars and diplomats,” the letter says. “Kovrig and Spavor’s detentions send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China.”
The letter said the arrests will lead to “less dialogue and greater distrust, and undermine efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground. Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result.”
More than 20 diplomats from seven countries and more than 100 scholars and academics from 19 countries signed.
Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, signed the letter and noted it comes as Canada is working to rally international support for the case.
“It will be noticed in Beijing and I hope that it will make clear for them that the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor are not only a China-Canada problem but it’s also having an impact on the image of and reputation of China,” Saint-Jacques said. “It’s an impressive list.”
The signatories include former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and Chris Patten, former British governor of Hong Kong. Two former US ambassadors to China, Gary Locke and Winston Lord, also signed.
David Mulroney, another former Canadian ambassador to China, said the letter is significant because it shows the international breadth of support for the two men.
“This isn’t simply a Canada-China dispute,” Mulroney said. “A lot of serious people, including many who have spent years working in China, are worried about how it is closing itself off, and punishing those who seek to understand and interpret it for others.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he encourages friends and allies around the world to point out that all countries should stand up for the rule of law.