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

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.


Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

Updated 16 September 2019

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

  • Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union

LUXEMBOURG: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep skepticism from European capitals with just six weeks to go before departure day.
After a weekend in which he compared himself to comic book super-smasher Hulk, the British leader will enjoy a genteel working lunch of snails and salmon in Luxembourg with the EU Commission president.
Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit.
A UK spokesman said Johnson would tell Juncker that “progress has been made, given that before the summer recess many said reopening talks would not be possible.
“The UK needs to enact the referendum result and avoid another delay; the UK wants to deliver Brexit and move on to other priorities, and EU member states’ leaders want to renegotiate an orderly Brexit.”
But Brussels has played down talk of a breakthrough, insisting Johnson has yet to suggest any “legally operable” proposal to revise a previous withdrawal accord.
As he shook hands with Johnson, Juncker declared himself “cautiously optimistic” and insisted that “Europe never loses patience” despite the tortuous Brexit saga dragging on over three years.
Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, who was chairing an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, gave a more downbeat assessment, repeating the bloc’s long-standing complaint that London has simply not come up with detailed ideas for replacing the so-called “Irish backstop” section of the divorce deal.
“The European Union is always ready to negotiate when a proper proposal from the UK side is presented,” Tuppurainen said.
“So far I haven’t seen any proposal that would compensate the backstop.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who joined the leaders for their talks in Juncker’s native Grand Duchy, said last week he has “no reason to be optimistic.”
The European Parliament will this week vote on a resolution rejecting Johnson’s demand that the backstop clause be stripped from the deal.
Johnson insists this measure, which temporarily keeps the UK in the EU customs union, has to go if he is to bring the agreement back to the House of Commons.
But the accord will also have to win the support of the other 27 EU leaders and the European Parliament if Britain is not to crash out with no deal on October 31 — a scenario that businesses warn would bring economic chaos.
Johnson, in turn, boasts that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask his European counterparts to postpone Brexit for a third time.
“Be in no doubt that if we cannot get a deal — the right deal for both sides — then the UK will come out anyway,” Johnson said, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday.
A UK spokesman said that Britain would refuse an extension even if one were offered.
It is difficult, then, to see what might come from the lunch. There is no plan for a joint statement, but Barnier will meet Britain’s Brexit minister Stephen Barclay for separate discussions.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Barclay indicated that any post-Brexit transition period could be extended past 2020 in order to resolve issues with the border.
Johnson, meanwhile, compared himself to Marvel comics hero Hulk, the rampaging mutant alter-ego of a mild-mannered nuclear scientist.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be,” Johnson told the Mail on Sunday.
Johnson’s strategy faces resistance at home, where rebel and opposition MPs have passed a law aimed at forcing him to seek a Brexit delay.
Britain’s Supreme Court will rule this week on a bid to overturn Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament and limit time to debate the crisis.
Barnier will address the European Parliament session in Strasbourg on Wednesday as MEPs vote to reaffirm and reinforce the EU Brexit stance — and insist that the backstop must stay.
After his lunch with Juncker, Johnson is due to meet Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The pair will hold a joint news conference.