French charity urges Sri Lanka to act over killings

Updated 04 August 2016
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French charity urges Sri Lanka to act over killings

Colombo: A French charity urged Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday to hold a credible investigation into the killing a decade ago of 17 of its staff.
The head of Action Against Hunger (ACF) said it was time for Sri Lanka to act on its promises as she visited the island to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre.
No one has ever been prosecuted over the execution style killings of ACF staff, among them four women, the worst attack against humanitarian workers during the island’s 37-year-long ethnic war.
Human Rights Watch has said mishandling of the case by successive Sri Lankan governments showed the need for credible international involvement to determine who carried out the killings.
ACF Chief Executive Veronique Andrieux said the charity was closely monitoring Colombo’s pledge at the UN Human Rights Council in September to establish an internationally acceptable mechanism to prosecute war criminals.
“What we hope is that this accountability mechanism will be able to deliver a credible legal and just solution,” Andrieux told AFP.
“We are awaiting concrete steps in the right direction. It is now time for action.”
The killings took place during the decades-long separatist war that came to an abrupt end in May 2009 after government forces crushed the Tamil rebel leadership in a major offensive.
The workers, all Sri Lankan, were massacred near Trincomalee, 260 kilometers (160 miles) north-east of Colombo, at a time when government forces were locked in combat with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the area.
Andrieux said the ACF had held a private remembrance event in the capital on Wednesday and a similar ceremony would be held Friday in Trincomalee.
Previous Sri Lankan investigations into the ACF attack have been inconclusive, and the UN has said security forces intimidated the victims’ relatives whenever international attention was paid to the case.
A UN report published last year pointed fingers at the Sri Lankan military, which has strongly denied it had any hand in the killings.


About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

Updated 21 min 7 sec ago
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About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

  • Soldiers say their missing comrades were taken by the militants during an ambush
  • Military command denies losing troops, saying the terrorists in fact lost 22 of their men in fighting
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: About 20 Nigerian soldiers are missing after a clash with Boko Haram militants in the northeast of the country, security sources said on Monday, though the military denied reports that some troops could not be found.
The confrontation between militants and troops took place on Saturday in the Bama area of Borno, the state worst hit by the jihadist group which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009 when it launched an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.
Three soldiers told Reuters more than 20 were missing.
“We lost some of our soldiers in the attack. It is possible those missing are dead. We haven’t seen about 23 of them now,” said an officer who did not want to be named.
Another soldier involved in the clash said the troops were ambushed while conducting a “clearance operation,” adding that “over 20 soldiers have not been seen up till now.” He said five military vehicles were taken.
The militant group carries out suicide bomb attacks in crowded places, such as markets, as well as gun raids and attacks on military bases.
At a news conference on Monday, the military said media reports of the soldiers being missing were untrue.
An army spokesman said suspected Boko Haram militants had tried to seize military vehicles in an attempted attack on troops in Bama but they had been repelled by troops backed by the air force.
“About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized while several others escaped with gunshot wounds. Efforts are being intensified by the troops to get the fleeing members of the Boko Haram terrorists,” said a military spokesman.
Boko Haram held territory around the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria for several months until being pushed off much of that land in early 2015 by Nigeria’s army and troops from neighboring countries.
Bama, about 60 km (40 miles) southeast of Borno’s state capital Maiduguri, was held by Boko Haram from September 2014 until March 2015.
Nigeria’s government has said since December 2015 that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.” Yet attacks continue in the northeast while another group, a Daesh ally that split from Boko Haram in 2016, holds territory.