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.


Mauritania’s electoral commission confirms Ghazouani win

Updated 24 June 2019
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Mauritania’s electoral commission confirms Ghazouani win

  • The result had been widely expected
  • The election paves the way for the first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania: Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a retired general who served as defense minister before being picked as the chosen successor to Mauritania’s outgoing president, won the weekend election by a large margin, the country’s electoral commission announced.
The result had been widely expected and was swiftly confirmed after Ghazouani claimed victory Saturday evening within hours of polls closing.
The election paves the way for the first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960, though retiring President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz had a hand in choosing his successor. Aziz was barred from seeking a third term under Mauritania’s constitution.
Ghazouani received 52 percent of the vote, while Biram Dah Abied, a human rights activist who has campaigned against slavery in the West African nation, received nearly 19 percent, according to the electoral commission.
Mauritania, a desert nation and moderate Islamic republic, has managed to avoid the spillover in violence from neighboring Mali that has plagued Burkina Faso and Niger.
Mauritania, though, has suffered five coups since independence, and has been led by military rulers for much of that time. Aziz himself was head of the presidential guard when he seized power in a 2008 coup, although he said he did so to prevent a return to repressive military rule.
He then won a landslide election the following year that his opponents decried as a fraudulent “electoral coup.” Most opposition parties boycotted the 2014 election, when Aziz won 82 percent of the vote according to official results.
Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981 but did not criminalize it until 2007. The United States ended trade benefits with Mauritania late last year, saying that the country is not making sufficient progress toward combating forced labor, including slavery. The Mauritanian government, however, denies that slavery is widespread in the country.