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.


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 17 June 2019
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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.