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.


Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

Updated 13 November 2018
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Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

  • Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that belong in the minority
  • Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism

BEIJING: China defended its internment of Muslims in the country’s northwest as a terror prevention measure on Tuesday, calling on the international community to reject “hearsay” and believe its official line.
Up to a million Uighurs and other Chinese Turkic-speaking minority groups have been placed in political re-education camps in the Xinjiang region, according to a group of experts cited by the United Nations.
After originally denying the existence of the centers, Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism to stay away from terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.
But the program has faced rising criticism outside the country — notably from the United States and human rights groups.
“We hope our journalist friends and our other foreign friends will take into consideration the information and briefings on the situation given by the Chinese authorities,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“Rumours and hearsay should not be believed,” he said standing next to his German counterpart Heiko Maas at a press conference.
“It’s quite clear that the government in Xinjiang knows best what is happening in Xinjiang — not other people and third party organizations.”
Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that conflict with Communist ideology and the dominant Han culture.
Former inmates of the camps say they were detained for having long beards or wearing the veil.
Attacks attributed to Uighurs have left hundreds dead over the last few years in China, many of them in Xinjiang, where Beijing says its concerned about a rise in Islamic radicalism.
The authorities have put in place intrusive measures of security — ubiquitous surveillance cameras, DNA sampling, home visits by officials and GPS trackers in cars.
“We call that a combination of repression and prevention. But we place the priority on prevention. If it’s done well, terrorism won’t expand and take root. It’s the most effective way to combat terrorism,” Wang Yi said.
The German foreign minister did not mention the Xinjiang region at the press conference, but did say he had “spoken on the question of human rights” during his closed meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
A debate on the situation in Xinjiang was held in the German parliament last Thursday.
China’s ambassador to Berlin expressed Beijing’s “profound discontent” and put in an official protest following the “blatant interference” in its “domestic affairs.”