Arrests after India mob lynches man over WhatsApp child abduction rumor

The men were arrested over the murder of 27-year-old Mohammad Azam who was attacked along with two friends by a 2,000-strong mob. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 July 2018
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Arrests after India mob lynches man over WhatsApp child abduction rumor

  • Indian police said they arrested 25 people after a man was killed by a mob in the country’s latest lynching
  • The men were arrested over the murder of 27-year-old Mohammad Azam

NEW DELHI: Indian police said Sunday they have arrested 25 people after a man was killed by a mob in the country’s latest lynching over suspicion of child kidnapping sparked by rumors on WhatsApp.
The men were arrested over the murder of 27-year-old Mohammad Azam who was attacked along with two friends by a 2,000-strong mob in southern Karnataka state’s Bidar district late Friday.
Azam’s friends were critically injured in the assault that came days after the Facebook-owned messaging service published advertisements in Indian newspapers offering tips to curb the spread of fake information on its platform.
More than 20 people have been lynched in India after being accused of child abduction in the last two months, according to media reports.
Police said Azam and his companions were returning to neighboring Hyderabad city after visiting their friend in Bidar when they stopped midway and offered chocolates to local children.
“One of them had bought chocolates from Qatar and tried to offer it to the children as a token of affection,” Bidar deputy police chief V. N. Patil told AFP.
But one among the group of children started crying, alerting the elders who accused the men of being child kidnappers amid rife social media rumors about child kidnapping rings in the area, the officer said.
Patil said the three managed to flee from the spot but were attacked by a much larger mob a few kilometers (miles) ahead after locals alerted nearby villages via Whatsapp.
Their car flipped after hitting a roadblock placed by the angry mob before they were dragged out of the vehicle and beaten with sticks and stones.
Three policemen were injured in rescue attempts as the mob rampaged for nearly an hour.
The attack comes after five people were lynched by a mob in neighboring Maharashtra state on July 1.
The mob had spotted the victims talking to a child at a market, triggering allegations of child abduction.
The spate of lynchings started last May in eastern Jharkhand state after rumors on WhatsApp about child kidnappers led to the lynching of seven men.
The rumors have since resurfaced, with 21 deaths reported in dozens of attacks across the country mostly targeting non-locals.
India accused Whatsapp of failing to curb false information on its platform.


Kosovo returns families of militants from Syria

Updated 20 April 2019
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Kosovo returns families of militants from Syria

  • More than 300 Kosovo citizens, men, women and children, have traveled to Syria since 2012
  • Police said some 150 women and children, including around 60 children that were born in war zones, were captured

PRISTINA: Dozens of women and children, relatives of Kosovo militants fighting in Syria, were flown back home by plane on Saturday under heavy security.
“The planned operation for the return of some of our citizens from Syria has ended successfully,” Justice Minister Abelrad Tahiri said at the airport early on Saturday.
Details would be released later in the day, he said.
After hours at the airport, two buses with women and children were transported under police escort to army barracks just outside Pristina.
More than 300 Kosovo citizens, men, women and children, have traveled to Syria since 2012. Some 70 men who fought alongside extremist militant groups were killed.
Police said some 150 women and children, including around 60 children that were born in war zones, were captured as Daesh lost ground.
It remained unclear if all of them were returned on Friday. Neither the minister nor police gave any details if any fighters were also returned.
International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Kosovo’s population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but largely secular in outlook.
There have been no Islamist attacks on its soil, although more than 100 men have been jailed or indicted on charges of fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some of them were found guilty of planning attacks in Kosovo.
The government said a form of radical Islam had been imported to Kosovo by non-governmental organizations from the Middle East after the end of its 1998-99 war of secession from Serbia.