Put back on terror-financing watch list, Pakistan vows to improve

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers on patrol near the site of an attack by Pakistani Taliban on February 14, which killed four paramilitary policemen. (AFP)
Updated 30 June 2018
0

Put back on terror-financing watch list, Pakistan vows to improve

ISLAMABAD: Placed back on a terror financing watch list this week, Pakistan vowed on Saturday to tighten regulations and follow an action plan to curb money laundering and terror financing.
Pakistani officials attending a meeting in Paris had tried in vain to persuade the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to keep Pakistan off a list of nations with inadequate controls to prevent terror financing and money laundering.
Western allies have long pushed Islamabad to do more to curb militant groups on its soil, and the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany all argued back in February for Pakistan to be reinserted on the watchdog’s “grey list.”
Various anti-Western, anti-Indian Islamist militant groups are based in nuclear-armed Pakistan, while Afghanistan and western military officials have repeatedly complained about covert support in Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban and its cohorts, like the Haqqani group.
Pakistan was included on the watch list for three years until 2015, and FATF has told the government what needs to be done in order to be taken off again.
Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, who is part of the technocratic administration running the country until a general election on July 25, told FATF members in Paris that Pakistan plans to take a “whole-of-government” approach to strengthen counter-terrorism financing measures.
The finance ministry said Akhtar has set up an “institutional coordination and monitoring mechanism” to ensure that the action plan is implemented.
The return to a watch list could further handicap chances of attracting Western investment in Pakistan’s fragile economy, but it has China’s support for major infrastructure projects.


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 34 min 42 sec ago
0

At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

  • A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation
  • Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities.
A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky.
Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease.
Tit-for-tat attacks between the two groups in late 2017 and early 2018 killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, but a tenuous calm had taken hold until this month.
Pascal Kakoraki Baguma, a national lawmaker from Ituri, said the latest violence was sparked by the killing last Monday of four Lendu businesspeople.
“Members of the Lendu community believed that these assassinations were the work of the Hema,” Kakoraki said. “This is why they launched several attacks on Hema villages.”
“Sources affirm that 161 bodies have been found so far. But the death toll goes beyond the bodies recovered, as there were other massacres of civilians and police officers,” he said.
Jean Bosco Lalo, president of civil society organizations in Ituri, said 200 bodies had been found since last week in predominantly Hema villages, including the 161 mentioned by Kakoraki. Lalo said the toll would rise once his teams gained access to other villages where killings had been reported.
Ituri Governor Jean Bamanisa said provincial authorities were still working to establish the exact death toll and declined to say who was responsible.
He said the assailants’ tactics were to “empty out the villages, burn them and pursue those who had fled to the surrounding areas with bladed weapons.”
Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, is trying to restore stability to the country’s eastern borderlands, a tinderbox of conflict among armed groups over ethnicity, natural resources and political power.
Several rebel leaders have surrendered or been captured during his first months in office, but armed violence has persisted, particularly in North Kivu province, south of Ituri, which is the epicenter of a 10-month Ebola outbreak.