Gunmen kill 41 people in central Mali — mayor

A soldier stands near debris from destroyed homes at the site of an ethnic massacre in which gunmen killed dozens of people, in the Dogon village of Sobane Da, Mali June 13, 2019, in this still image taken from video. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Gunmen kill 41 people in central Mali — mayor

  • President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government has vowed to disarm the militias but has struggled to do so

BAMAKO: Unidentified gunmen on motorbikes attacked two villages in central Mali, killing at least 41 people in a part of the country where ethnic reprisal attacks have surged in recent months, a local mayor said on Tuesday.
The attacks on Monday evening on the villages of Yoro and Gangafani 2 compound a dire security situation in central Mali, where ethnic militias regularly slaughter civilians from rival groups and Islamist militants are also active.
The victims of Monday’s raids were mostly ethnic Dogons, said Issiaka Ganame, the mayor of Yoro, where 24 people were killed. Another 17 died in Gangafani 2.
“About 100 unidentified armed men circulating on motos all of a sudden invaded Yoro and fired on the population,” Ganame told Reuters. “Then they descended on the village of Gangafani 2, which is about 15 km (9 miles) away.”
The tit-for-tat violence in recent months has largely pitted Dogon hunters against Fulani herders. Attackers believed to be Fulani raided a Dogon village last week, killing at least 35 people.
In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in two villages in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country’s recent history.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government has vowed to disarm the militias but has struggled to do so. The groups are looked to for security by local communities who do not trust the government to protect them.
On Tuesday, two labor unions representing civil servants called on state adminstrators in the Mopti region, where most of the attacks have occurred, to leave their posts and decamp to the regional capital due to death threats.
“President Keita said he was going to disarm all the militias. We take note and await the disarmament of the militias and implementation of protection measures,” said Ousmane Christian Diarra, secretary-general of the National Syndicate of Civil Administrators.
French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the north. But the militants have since regrouped and use northern and central Mali as launchpads to stage attacks across the region and stoke tensions among different communities.


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
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Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.