Suspected extremists hack seven to death in Mozambique

Soldiers from the Mozambican army patrol the streets of Mocimboa da Praia, in the province of Cabo Delgado, following an upsurge in extremist attacks. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2018
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Suspected extremists hack seven to death in Mozambique

  • Cabo Delgado province which is expected to become the center of the country’s nascent natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a number of deadly assaults on both security forces and civilians.
  • The country’s north has largely been excluded from the economic growth of the last 20 years, and the region sees itself as a neglected outpost, creating fertile ground for radical Daesh-style ideology.

MAPUTO: Suspected extremists hacked seven people to death with machetes and torched dozens of homes early Tuesday in northern Mozambique, a region that has suffered a recent spate of similar attacks, police said.
The area, Cabo Delgado province which is expected to become the center of the country’s nascent natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a number of deadly assaults on both security forces and civilians since October.
“The bandits used machetes to kill the seven persons. We think this group is likely part of the (one) that beheaded 10 (people on) May 27,” police spokesman Inacio Dina told AFP, referring to an attack last month in the same region that was also blamed on extremists.
The assailants burnt down 164 houses and destroyed four cars during the assault on the village of Naude in the Macomia district, the spokesman said of the most recent attack.
Police reinforcements had previously been sent to the region to step up security.
Dina suggested that the group might also have been linked to the nine “insurgents” killed by security forces over the weekend who were subsequently found to be carrying assault rifles and extremist tracts.
“This group is very fragmented in small groups (and) they try to resist police attacks,” he said.
The May 27 bloodshed occurred in two small villages close to the border with Tanzania and not far from Palma, a small town gearing up to be the country’s new natural gas hub in Cabo Delgado.
Two of those killed in the gruesome dawn raids were boys aged 15 and 16.
In October, armed men targeted a police station and military post in the town of Mocimboa da Praia in what was believed to be the first extremist attack on the country.
Two officers died and 14 attackers were killed.
The group, described by locals and officials as “Al-Shabab,” has no known link to the Somali extremist group of the same name.
In the following weeks, at least 300 Muslims, including Tanzanians, were arrested and several mosques were forced to close.
The increase in attacks in the north of the country could pose a problem for Mozambique, which holds general elections next year and hopes to cash in on the recently discovered gas reserves.
The vast gas deposits discovered off the shores of Palma could transform the impoverished country’s economy.
Experts predict that Mozambique could even become the world’s third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
But the country’s north has largely been excluded from the economic growth of the last 20 years, and the region sees itself as a neglected outpost, creating fertile ground for radical Daesh-style ideology.
Mozambique last month passed an anti-terrorism law that punishes terrorism activity with more than 40 years in jail.


Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

Updated 20 July 2019
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Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

  • Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests
  • Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over

HONG KONG: Tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Hong Kong’s police and pro-Beijing leadership on Saturday, a vivid illustration of the polarization coursing through the city after weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests — as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police — sparked by a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China and other countries.
The bill has since been suspended, but that has done little to quell public anger which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, universal suffrage and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous financial hub.
Saturday’s rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters.
A predominantly older crowd was joined by families and younger residents, waving Chinese flags and holding banners supporting the police.
“Friends who used violence say they love Hong Kong too, but we absolutely cannot approve of their way of expressing themselves,” said Sunny Wong, 42, who works in insurance.
A 60-year-old woman surnamed Leung said protesters who stormed and vandalized the legislature earlier this month must be held responsible for their acts.
“I really dislike people using violence on others... it was so extreme,” Leung said.
Police estimated a turnout of 103,000 people at the peak of the rally, while local media cited organizers as saying 316,000 attended.
Hong Kong’s police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
With no political solution on the table from the city’s pro-Beijing leaders, the police have become enmeshed in a seemingly intractable cycle of clashes with protesters who have continued to hit the streets in huge numbers for six weeks.
Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over.
Police insist their crowd control responses have been proportionate and point to injured officers as proof that a hardcore minority of protesters mean them harm.
Some of the most violent clashes occurred last Sunday when riot police battled protesters hurling projectiles inside a luxury mall. Some 28 people were injured, including 10 officers.
There is growing frustration among the police force’s exhausted rank and file that neither the city’s leaders, nor Beijing, seem to have any idea how to end the crisis.
Chinese state media and powerful pro-Beijing groups threw their weight behind the pro-police rally.
Saturday’s edition of Hong Kong’s staunchly pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a front page encouraging readers to join with the headline: “Kick away the violence.”
It featured a drawing of a large foot kicking over a pro-democracy demonstrator.
Many of those at the rally held aloft large slogans printed on the spread of Wen Wei Po, another stridently pro-Beijing newspaper in the city.
A rally last month by police supporters saw ugly scenes, with many participants hurling insults and scuffling with younger democracy protesters as well as media covering the gathering.
While the pro-government protests have mustered decent crowds, they have paled in comparison with the huge pro-democracy marches that have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of people.
Anti-government protesters are planning another large march Sunday afternoon and say they have no plan to back down until key demands are met.
Tensions were also raised after police on Saturday said they had discovered a homemade laboratory making high-powered explosives. A 27-year-old man was arrested and pro-independence materials were also discovered.
Under the 1997 handover deal with Britain, China promised to allow Hong Kong to keep key liberties such as its independent judiciary and freedom of speech.
But many say that 50-year deal is already being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.
Authorities have also resisted calls for the city’s leader to be directly elected by the people.