Burkina Faso forces, militants execute dozens of civilians: HRW

Thousands of people have fled their homes as a result of militant attacks and reprisals by Burkinabe forces. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

Burkina Faso forces, militants execute dozens of civilians: HRW

  • Burkina Faso has seen a sharp rise in extremist attacks in the past three months
  • All the violence occurred near the northern borders with Mali and Niger, between April 2018 and January 2019

OUAGADOUGOU: Burkina Faso security forces have summarily executed more than 115 civilians since mid-last year during operations against militants who themselves have killed over a third of that number, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.
Burkina Faso has seen a sharp rise in extremist attacks in the past three months, as militant groups seek to increase their influence across the Sahel.
A Burkinabe government spokesman declined to comment, but said authorities would issue a statement shortly. None of the multiple militant groups operating in Burkina Faso could be reached for comment.
HRW documented “the execution by Burkinabe security forces of over 115 men accused of supporting or harboring the armed Islamists,” as well as 42 killings carried out by militants of suspected government collaborators.
All the violence occurred near the northern borders with Mali and Niger, between April 2018 and January 2019.
“Scores of people have been murdered,” Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at Human Rights Watch, said. “Villagers are living in fear as both armed Islamists and government forces have demonstrated utter disregard for human life.”
Burkina Faso has become the latest focal point for a determined regional militant campaign, seven years after well-armed extremists took over northern Mali in 2012, prompting the French to intervene the following year to push them back.
However, any evidence of reprisals would present an uncomfortable dilemma for Western allies such as France and the United States: backing security forces in countries such as Burkina Faso is key to containing the militant threat, but that support is meant to be conditional on respect for human rights.
Burkina declared a state of emergency in several provinces in December following an attack by an Al-Qaeda-linked group. The state of emergency was extended by six months in January after an dozens died in ethnic violence triggered by the suspected militant killing of a traditional ruler.
Thousands of people have fled their homes as a result of militant attacks and reprisals by Burkinabe forces.
According to the HRW report, in the village of Gasseliki, about 230 km north of the capital Ouagadougou, militants killed 12 people.
“They kicked the door in, went room to room and found us hiding,” the report quoted a witness as saying. Reprisals by security forces were mostly carried out by a detachment of about 100 gendarmes, or military police, based in the town of Arbinda, since late August, it said.
Most were from the Fulani ethnic group, whom the militants have targeted heavily for recruitment.
Earlier this month, Burkina Faso acknowledged accusations of abuse, saying the army was committed to human rights and that it “investigations are ongoing into the facts.”


India’s ex-finance minister Chidambaram arrested at home in dramatic raid

Updated 21 August 2019

India’s ex-finance minister Chidambaram arrested at home in dramatic raid

  • Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday
  • At a news conference, he called his accusers “pathological liars”

NEW DELHI: High drama unfolded in New Delhi late Wednesday as officers from India’s equivalent of the FBI scaled the walls of a former finance minister’s home to arrest him on corruption charges, local media reported.
Earlier in the day, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alerted airports to prevent Palaniappan Chidambaram, finance minister from 2004-2008 and again from 2012-2014, from leaving the country.
Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday, until he showed up at the headquarters of the opposition Congress party on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence.
At a news conference, he called his accusers “pathological liars.”
Driving then to his home in the upscale Jor Bagh neighborhood, he was tailed by around 30 CBI officers who knocked at the doors before scaling the boundary walls, the Press Trust of India reported.
Once three officers were inside, they opened the gates to allow team members to enter, while others rushed to the back door to secure all exit points, PTI reported.
After Chidamabaram was arrested, party supporters gathered outside the home to protest. Some jumped on the car in which the politician was taken away, the agency said.
Chidambaram has been charged in relation to alleged kickbacks and money laundering involving a media company when he was finance minister under former premier Manmohan Singh.
He was expected to appear in a special CBI court on Thursday, PTI reported.