62 dead in Burkina militant attacks and tribal clashes; Daesh claims killing of Canadian

Burkina Faso's Defense Minister Cherif Sy listens during a meeting with the US Security Council members in Ouagadougou on March 24, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2019
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62 dead in Burkina militant attacks and tribal clashes; Daesh claims killing of Canadian

  • Terrorists “chased people and killed people,” and kidnapped nine others, says minister
  • Daesh, without evidence, claims killing of Canadian in Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU: Sixty-two people were killed this week in militant attacks and subsequent intercommunal clashes in north Burkina Faso, a minister said Wednesday.
“There were 62 deaths,” Simeon Sawadogo, minister for territorial administration, said of the violence between Sunday and Tuesday in Arbina commune, near the Mali border.
“We have 32 dead because of the terrorists. We have 30 who died because of community conflicts, reprisals between (the communities of) Kouroumba, Peuls, Mossis etc.”
The militant “chased people and killed people,” Sawadogo said in his televised statement, adding that nine were kidnapped.
Armed individuals on Sunday night stormed the village of Hamkan, seven kilometers (four miles) from Arbinda, where they killed the village’s religious leader, his eldest son and his nephew, the minister said.
“Following the killing of Sheikh Werem, there were clashes between communities in Arbinda, which resulted in retaliation on both sides,” according to Sawadogo, describing a “deplorable situation.”
The minister said people from surrounding villages made their way to Arbinda after the violence.
“The security situation is such that no one is safe,” he said, insisting that extra safety measures had been put in place in the area.
Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has seen a surge in attacks blamed on Islamist groups — mainly the Ansaroul Islam group and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) — in the last four years.
This week’s violence follows a massacre of 160 people during an attack on a Fulani village in neighboring Mali on March 23.
“The intention of the terrorists is actually to create conflict between the different communities,” said Sawadogo, calling on people “not to fall into the trap by linking a community as the cause of our misfortune.”

Kidnapped Canadian found dead

Meanwhile, Daesh claimed to have kidnapped and killed a Canadian citizen in Burkina Faso in January, but security sources said they believed he actually died during a botched attempt by a criminal gang to sell him on to another group.
Canadian geologist Kirk Woodman’s body was found on Jan. 16, two days after his abduction by a dozen gunmen at a mining site operated by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals in the northeast of the landlocked West African country.
Burkina Faso officials said he had been shot, and his body was dumped in an area that is under growing threat from Islamist militants, some with links to Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
In an article trumpeting Daesh’s insurgencies in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the group’s weekly Al-Naba newspaper detailed an operation to kidnap and kill Woodman and showed a photograph of what it claimed was his driver’s license.
The Daesg newspaper said “the kidnapping and killing of a Canadian crusader” has increased the West’s interest in “the war of the Mujahideen” in Burkina Faso.
Two security sources in Burkina Faso, however, told Reuters that they thought Woodman was abducted by a criminal gang and killed as it tried to sell him on to presumed militants.
Woodman’s body was left in the desert by “the Caliphate soldiers,” Al-Naba said, though it put a date on Woodman’s execution using the Islamic calendar that would equate to Jan. 25 — several days after the body was actually found.


India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C) gestures after laying a wreath to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 min 48 sec ago
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India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

  • Rahul Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties
  • This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised

NEW DELHI: Indians are voting Tuesday in the third phase of the general elections with campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and the opposition marred by bitter accusations and acrimony.
People lined up outside voting station at several places even before the polling started at 7 a.m.
The voting for 117 parliamentary seats in 13 states and two Union Territories on Tuesday means polls are half done for 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The voting over seven phases ends May 19, with counting scheduled for May 23.
The election is seen as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch trying to win the majority Hindu votes by projecting a tough stance against Islamic neighbor Pakistan.
The opposition is challenging him for a high unemployment rate of 6.1% and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices.
Modi is scheduled to vote on Tuesday in his western home state of Gujarat, though he is contesting for a parliamentary seat from Varanasi, a city in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The voting also is taking place in Wayanad constituency in southern Kerala state, one of the two seats from where opposition Congress party president, Rahul Gandhi, is contesting. His home bastion, Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh state will have polling on May 6. He will give up one seat if he wins from both places.
The voting is staggered to facilitate movement of security forces to oversee an orderly election and avoid vote fraud.
India’s autonomous Election Commission intervened last week to block hate speeches by imposing a temporary ban on campaigning by some top politicians across political parties.
Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Yogi Adityanath of Modi’s BJP was barred from campaigning, in the form of public meetings, road shows or media interviews, for three days for making anti-Muslim speeches. He said a Hindu god will ensure the BJP victory in elections, while the opposition was betting on Muslim votes.
Mayawati, a leader of Bahujan Samaj Party, was punished for 48 hours for appealing to Muslims to vote only for her party. India’s top court ordered strict action against politicians for religion and caste-based remarks.
Hindus comprise 80% and Muslims 16% of India’s 1.3 billion people. The opposition accuses the BJP of trying to polarize the Hindu votes in its favor.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP leader, filed a contempt of court petition against Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court for misrepresenting a court order while accusing Modi of corruption in a deal to buy 36 French Rafale fighter aircraft. Modi denies the charge.
Modi has used Kashmir to pivot away from his economic record, playing up the threat of rival Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 soldiers, in a bid to appear a strong, uncompromising leader on national security. The bombing brought nuclear rivals India and Pakistan close to the brink of war.
Opposition parties have consistently said that Modi and his party leaders are digressing from the main issues such as youth employment and farmers’ suicides.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.