Security forces free Mali official from extremists

The most senior government representative in the Tenenkou commune was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Security forces free Mali official from extremists

  • A Malian jounalist who was kidnapped was also freed
  • A peace agreement signed in 2015 was aimed at restoring stability, but the accord has failed to stop violence by extremist militants

BAMAKO, Mali: A senior government official and a journalist abducted by suspected extremists in Mali have been freed, a security source told AFP on Tuesday.
Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou commune in central Mali, “was freed Monday thanks to an action by state security,” the source told AFP.
Doumbia, the most senior government representative in the commune, was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year.
He is now being treated in intensive care in the capital Bamako, said the source, who refused to comment on claims that Doumbia was freed under a prisoner exchange.
A son of the official, who declined to give his full name, also confirmed the prefect had been released.
“I was able to speak to my father. He is very tired. But the most important thing is that he is free. I am very happy,” said the son.
Malian journalist Issiaka Tamboura, who was kidnapped in central Mali in December, was also released and taken to hospital in Bamako, security and media sources said.
However, elsewhere in the Mopti region, four hostages taken by suspected extremists were killed at Toguere-Koumbe last week, according to Kisal, a rights group for nomadic communities.
Kisal announced on its Facebook page Monday that those killed were members of the Bozo ethnic group.
A security source confirmed that “four civilian hostages of terrorists” were found dead at Toguere at the weekend.
Extremist militias linked to Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali in 2012, but were pushed back by French troops the following year.
A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability, but the accord has failed to stop violence by extremist militants — who have also staged attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.