Casualties reported from gunfire celebrating Chad junta chief’s victory

An armoured vehicle of Chad's army forces is deployed in N'Djamena on May 10, 2024, a day after the announcement of the results of Chad's presidential election. Chad's junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno won this week's presidential election in the first round, according to provisional official results released on May 9, 2024. (AFP)
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An armoured vehicle of Chad's army forces is deployed in N'Djamena on May 10, 2024, a day after the announcement of the results of Chad's presidential election. Chad's junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno won this week's presidential election in the first round, according to provisional official results released on May 9, 2024. (AFP)
Casualties reported from gunfire celebrating Chad junta chief’s victory
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supporters of Chad's junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno celebrate their candidate's victory in a street in N'Djamena on May 9, 2024, after the electoral commission said Deby won 61.03 percent of votes. (AFP)
Casualties reported from gunfire celebrating Chad junta chief’s victory
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Updated 11 May 2024
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Casualties reported from gunfire celebrating Chad junta chief’s victory

Casualties reported from gunfire celebrating Chad junta chief’s victory
  • Election body says Mahamat Deby Itno won with over 61 percent of the vote and runner-up Succès Masra got over 18.5 percent
  • Deby Itno seized power after his father, who spent three decades in power, was killed fighting rebels in 2021

N’DJAMENA: Several people were hurt and some may have been killed in gunfire celebrating Chad’s interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby’s declared election victory on Thursday, an Amnesty International representative said, citing reports from partners.

Volleys of shots could be heard in the capital N’Djamena in the hours after the state election agency announced Deby had won a hefty 61.3 percent of the May 6 vote, even as his main challenger rejected the result and called for protests.
“Deaths and injuries from bullets have been reported ... The exact number of victims is unknown, but there is already talk of around 10 dead, including children,” said Amnesty International researcher Abdoulaye Diarra.

BACKGROUND

President Mahamat Idriss Deby seized power when rebels killed his long-ruling father, Idriss Deby, in April 2021.

The chaotic celebrations followed a fraught electoral period marked by the killing of opposition figure Yaya Dillo, the omission of prominent opposition politicians from the candidate list, and other issues that critics say undermined the credibility of the vote.
N’Djamena was calm on Friday, with little sign of the leading challenger Succes Masra’s supporters taking to the streets.




Supporters of Chad's junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno celebrate their candidate's victory in a street in N'Djamena on May 9, 2024, after the electoral commission said Deby won 61.03 percent of votes. (AFP)

There was a heavy police presence, including convoys filled with men in camouflage fatigues patrolling the nearly empty streets.
On Friday, Masra’s Transformateurs party, keeping a parallel vote tally, said he had won based on their count.
The party said in an online post: “We have the evidence, and Chadians all know it.”
The presidential election makes Chad the first coup-hit countries in West and Central Africa to stage a return to constitutional rule via the ballot box. However, Masra and other opposition factions have cried foul over transparency concerns.
Abdou Abarry, special representative of the UN Secretary-General in Central Africa, called on all parties to show restraint.
While Masra drew larger-than-expected crowds on the campaign trail, analysts had widely predicted that Deby would win.
Deby seized power when rebels killed his long-ruling father, Idriss Deby, in April 2021.
“Post-election protests are possible, though the threat of police repression could dissuade many people from taking to the streets,” Crisis Group experts said ahead of the vote.
The election is being closely watched from abroad.
While other juntas in the insurgency-torn Sahel region, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, have told Paris and other Western powers to withdraw and turned to Moscow for support, Chad remains the last Sahel state with a substantial French military presence.
Security and the economy have been key campaign issues.
One of the world’s least-developed countries, Chad’s meager resources have been stretched thinner by multiple shocks, including climate change-fueled heatwaves and a refugee crisis linked to the civil war in Sudan.

 


Russia obliterates front-line Ukraine towns by retrofitting bombs and expanding its air base network

Russia obliterates front-line Ukraine towns by retrofitting bombs and expanding its air base network
Updated 7 sec ago
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Russia obliterates front-line Ukraine towns by retrofitting bombs and expanding its air base network

Russia obliterates front-line Ukraine towns by retrofitting bombs and expanding its air base network
KHARKIV, Ukraine: The first shock wave shattered aisles stacked almost to the ceiling with home improvement products. The next Russian bomb streaked down like a comet seconds later, unleashing flames that left the megastore an ashen shell.
A third bomb failed to detonate when it landed behind the Epicenter shopping complex in Kharkiv. Investigators hope it will help them trace the supply chain for the latest generation of retrofitted Russian “glide bombs” that are laying waste to eastern Ukraine. The Soviet-era bombs are adapted on the cheap with imported electronics that allow distant Russian warplanes to launch them at Ukraine.
Other cities that have been devastated by the weapons include Avdiivka, Chasiv Yar and Vovchansk, and Russia has nearly unlimited supplies of the bombs, which are dispatched from airfields just across the border that Ukraine has not been able to hit.
Store manager Oleksandr Lutsenko said the May 25 attack hints at Russia’s aim for Kharkiv: “Their goal is to turn it into a ghost city, to make it so that no one will stay, that there will be nothing to defend, that it will make no sense to defend the city. They want to scare people, but they will not succeed.”
Russia has accelerated its destruction of Ukraine’s front-line cities in 2024 to a scale previously unseen in the war using the glide bombs and an expanding network of airstrips, according to an Associated Press analysis of drone footage, satellite imagery, Ukrainian documents and Russian photos.
The results can be seen in the intensity of recent Russian attacks. It took a year for Russia to obliterate Bakhmut, where the bombs were first used. That was followed by destruction in Avdiivka that took months. Then, only weeks were needed to do the same in Vovchansk and Chasiv Yar, according to images analyzed by AP that showed the smoldering ruins of both cities.
Now, Russia is putting the finishing touches on yet another airstrip less than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Ukraine and launching the bombs routinely from multiple bases just inside Russian borders, according to the AP analysis of satellite pictures and photos from a Russian aviation Telegram channel.
The bombing of the Epicenter in Kharkiv killed 19 people, including two children. In all, glide bombs have hit the city more than 50 times this year, according to Spartak Borysenko of the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office.
He showed investigation documents to AP that identified at least eight Russian air bases used to launch the attacks, all within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of Ukraine. He said at least one of the munitions had foreign electronics and was made in May. That date suggests Russia is using the bombs rapidly and that it has successfully circumvented sanctions for dual-use items.
Photos on Russian Telegram channels linked to the military show glide bombs being launched three and four at a time. In one launch of four bombs, the AP traced the aircraft’s location to just outside the Russian city of Belgorod, near the air base now under construction. All four bombs in the photo were headed west — with Vovchansk and Kharkiv in their direct line of fire.
At the end of May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was launching more than 3,000 of the bombs every month, with 3,200 used in May alone.
Oleh Katkov, whose military-oriented site Defense Express first traced the launch location, said hitting air bases is key to slowing the pace of the bombings by forcing Russian planes to launch farther away.
“This doesn’t mean they will completely stop their bombings, but it will become more difficult for them,” Katkov said. “They will be able to make fewer sorties per day.”
For months, Ukrainian officials complained bitterly about restrictions on using Western-supplied weapons against targets in Russia, including the airfields that house Russian bombers. The United States and Germany recently authorized some targets in Russia, but many others remain off-limits.
The newest airfield, just outside Belgorod, has a 2,000-meter (-yard) runway, the AP analysis found. Construction began late summer 2023, during the failed Ukrainian counteroffensive.
A Ukrainian intelligence official, who provided information to AP on condition of anonymity, said his government had been closely following the construction, which did not yet appear complete in a photo taken mid-June.
The official also noted that Belarus provides sanctuary for Russian bombers. A map created by the Ukrainian battlefield analysis site DeepState showed 10 airfields in Belarus, including five just across the border from Ukraine.
In all, the DeepState map shows 51 bases used by Russia within 600 kilometers (370 miles) of Ukrainian-controlled territory, including three in occupied eastern Ukraine, six in the illegally annexed peninsula of Crimea, and 32 in Russia.
“The greatest strategic advantage Russia has over Ukraine is its advantage in the sky,” Zelensky said last week. “This is missile and bomb terror that helps Russian troops advance on the ground.”
Russia launches up to 100 guided bombs daily, Zelensky said. Besides missiles and drones, which Russia already routinely uses for attacks, the bombs cause “an insanely destructive pressure.”
The base material for the glide bombs comes from hundreds of thousands of Soviet-era unguided bombs, which are then retrofitted with retractable fins and guidance systems to carry 500 to 3,000 kilograms (1,100 to 6,600 pounds) of explosives. The upgrade costs around $20,000 per bomb, according to the Center for European Policy Analysis, and the bombs can be launched up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) from their targets — outside the range of Ukraine’s regular air defense systems.
The bombs are similar in concept to the American Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, missiles, which have had their GPS systems successfully jammed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Because Russia does not have the strength to occupy eastern cities such as Kharkiv, bombing is their preferred option, said Nico Lange, an analyst with the Center for European Policy Analysis.
“From their point of view, the strategy seems to be to terrorize the cities enough that people will leave,” Lange said.
Back at the Epicenter home improvement store, surveillance footage taken just before the explosion showed salesperson Nina Korsunova walking across the floor toward the aisle that she was staffing that day. Then there was a blinding flash, and the camera cut out.
Korsunova curled into the fetal position as a display crashed on top of her. She uncovered her eyes just in time to see the second bomb streak inside. With her eardrums blown out, she could hear nothing and saw not a single sign of life.
“I thought I was alone and that they had abandoned me there. It gave me the strength to climb out,” she said. She crawled over piles of shattered lamps, and cables snarled her legs as she climbed through debris from the electrical supply aisle.
Two weeks later, the skeleton of the building reeked of a disorienting combination of scorched metal and laundry detergent that spilled from melted jugs in the cleaning products aisle.
Neither Korsunova nor the store manager have any plans to leave their hometown.
“It didn’t break me,” she said. “I will remain in Kharkiv. This is my home.”

Swedish court to rule on top Syrian officer war crimes charges

Swedish court to rule on top Syrian officer war crimes charges
Updated 18 min 46 sec ago
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Swedish court to rule on top Syrian officer war crimes charges

Swedish court to rule on top Syrian officer war crimes charges
  • The trial is against one of the highest-ranking Syrian military officials to be tried in Europe,

Stockholm: A Stockholm court will Thursday deliver its verdict in a trial against one of the highest-ranking Syrian military officials to be tried in Europe, accused of war crimes during Syria's civil war.
Former brigadier general Mohammed Hamo, 65, who lives in Sweden, is accused of "aiding and abetting" war crimes. If convicted, he could get a life sentence.
The Stockholm district court is expected to announce its verdict at 11:00 am (0900 GMT).
The war between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and armed opposition groups, including Islamic State, erupted after the government repressed peaceful pro-democracy protests in 2011.
It has killed more than half a million people, displaced millions, and ravaged Syria's economy and infrastructure.
According to the charges, Hamo contributed -- through "advice and action" -- to the Syrian army's warfare, which "systematically included attacks carried out in violation of the principles of distinction, caution and proportionality".
"The warfare was thus indiscriminate," prosecutor Karolina Wieslander told the court when the trial opened in April.
Wieslander said the Syrian army's "widespread air and ground attacks" caused damage "at a scale that was disproportionate in view of the concrete and immediate general military advantages that could be expected to be achieved".
In his role as brigadier general and head of an armament division, Hamo allegedly helped coordinate the supply of arms and ammunition to units.
Hamo's lawyer, Mari Kilman, told the court her client denied criminal responsibility and had not shown "intent" to contribute to "indiscriminate warfare" by others.
Kilman said the officer could not be held liable for the actions "as he had acted in a military context and had to follow orders."
Aida Samani, senior legal advisor at rights group Civil Rights Defenders -- which has been monitoring the trial -- told AFP that "strong evidence" had been presented at the trial.
"We will now see what the court makes of that information and evidence," Samani said.
"What is noteworthy about this case is that this is the first trial concerning the Syrian military's warfare. That is, how the warfare was carried out," she said.
No European court has previously dealt with this issue and the impact on civilian lives and infrastructure, she added.
Hamo is the highest-ranking military official to go on trial in Europe in person, though other countries have tried to bring charges against more senior members.
In March, Swiss prosecutors charged Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of President Bashar al-Assad, with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
However, it remains unlikely Rifaat al-Assad -- who recently returned to Syria after 37 years in exile -- will show up for the trial, for which a date has yet to be set.
Swiss law allows for trials in absentia under certain conditions.
In November, France issued an international arrest warrant for Bashar al-Assad, accusing him of complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes over chemical attacks in 2013.
Three other international warrants were also issued for the arrests of Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher, the de-facto chief of the army's elite Fourth Division, and two generals.
In May, a Paris court also ordered life prison sentences for three top Syrian security officials for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The accused -- Ali Mamlouk, former head of the National Security Bureau; Jamil Hassan, former director of the Air Force intelligence service; and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, former head of investigations -- were all absent, but there are international warrants for their arrest.
In January 2022, a German court sentenced former colonel Anwar Raslan to life in jail for crimes against humanity. That was the first international trial over state-sponsored torture in Syria and was hailed by victims as a victory for justice.


Myanmar armed groups accuse junta of breaking China-brokered ceasefire

Myanmar armed groups accuse junta of breaking China-brokered ceasefire
Updated 20 June 2024
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Myanmar armed groups accuse junta of breaking China-brokered ceasefire

Myanmar armed groups accuse junta of breaking China-brokered ceasefire

YANGON: An alliance of Myanmar ethnic armed groups have accused the junta of repeatedly violating a China-brokered ceasefire in the north of the country this month and causing civilian casualties.
Beijing brokered a truce between the junta and the so-called “Three Brotherhood Alliance” in January after months of fighting that displaced more than half a million people near China’s southern border.
The ceasefire allowed the alliance — made up of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA) to hold swathes of territory it had seized in northern Shan state.
Junta troops on Wednesday launched an air strike on territory the TNLA holds near the ruby and gem-mining hub of Mogok, the group said.
“In this incident, one civilian was killed and 3 wounded including a 10-year-old child,” the TNLA said in a statement posted to the alliance’s Telegram channel on Wednesday.
On Tuesday junta troops had launched a drone attack that had killed one TNLA member and seriously wounded four others, the TNLA added.
It said the attacks were the latest violation this month by the junta, which it said had shelled TNLA positions and cut roads and restricted the flow of goods to TNLA-controlled towns.
AFP was unable to reach a junta spokesman for comment.
In October last year, the alliance launched a surprise offensive across northern Myanmar, seizing several towns and lucrative border hubs that are vital for trade with China, dealing a blow to the cash-strapped and isolated junta.
Border trade with China during April-May was down by almost a third compared to the same period last year, junta-controlled media reported last week.
Last month China hosted follow-up peace talks between the military and the alliance in the city of Kunming.
A source close to the MNDAA told AFP that no substantial progress had been made, and the two sides would meet again in the future.
Myanmar’s borderlands are home to a plethora of ethnic armed groups, many of whom have battled the military since independence from Britain in 1948 over autonomy and control of lucrative resources.
While fighting in Shan state has calmed, the AA has launched its own offensive in western Rakhine state, where it says it is fighting for more autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine population.
Its fighters have seized territory along the border with India and Bangladesh, piling further pressure on the junta as it battles opponents elsewhere across the Southeast Asian country.


Heatwave kills dozens in India’s capital, reports Times of India

Heatwave kills dozens in India’s capital, reports Times of India
Updated 20 June 2024
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Heatwave kills dozens in India’s capital, reports Times of India

Heatwave kills dozens in India’s capital, reports Times of India
  • India recorded more than 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases this summer and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18

An unrelenting heatwave sweeping across northern India has killed at least 52 people in New Delhi, the Times of India reported on Thursday, as the country grappled with record temperatures this summer.
At least 52 bodies were brought to hospitals in the past two days, the Times of India said, most of them destitute and poor people who lived and worked in the open.
India has recorded more than 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases this summer and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18, when northwest and eastern India recorded twice the usual number of heatwave days.
“A prolonged summer should be classified as a natural disaster,” The Hindu newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday, pointing to water shortages and record power demand.
The health ministry ordered federal and state institutions to ensure immediate attention to patients, while hospitals were directed to make more beds available.
The weather office has forecast above normal temperatures for this month as well, and Delhi saw its warmest night in over 50 years on Wednesday, with a minimum temperature of 35.2 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), data from the weather department showed.
Billions of people across Asia are grappling with extreme heat in a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change.


Four in five people want more climate action: UN survey

Four in five people want more climate action: UN survey
Updated 20 June 2024
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Four in five people want more climate action: UN survey

Four in five people want more climate action: UN survey
  • Majority of respondents in 62 of the 77 countries surveyed said they supported a quick transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.
  • 80 percent of respondents want their governments to increase efforts to fight against global warming

United Nations: Four in every five people want their country to strengthen its commitments to addressing climate change, according to a global poll of 75,000 participants published on Thursday.
The survey by the UN Development Program, Oxford University and GeoPoll posed 15 questions by randomized telephone calls to people in 77 countries representing 87 percent of the world’s population.
The key finding was that 80 percent of respondents want their governments to increase efforts to fight against global warming.
Poorer countries beat this drum the loudest, with 89 percent in favor, though appetite is also high in the wealthy G20 nations (76 percent), according to the survey.
China (73 percent) and the United States (66 percent) — the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters — also saw a majority of respondents in favor of climate action.
“As world leaders decide on the next round of pledges under the Paris Agreement by 2025, these results are undeniable evidence that people everywhere support bold climate action,” said Cassie Flynn, UNDP global climate director.
A majority of respondents in 62 of the 77 countries surveyed said they supported a quick transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.
These included China (80 percent) and the United States (54 percent), but in Russia just 16 percent of poll participants were in favor.
Worries about global warming have also increased, the survey found, with 56 percent saying they think about climate change at least once a week.
Over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said they were more worried about climate change than last year, compared with 15 percent who said they were less worried.
Leading the rise in climate anxiety is Fiji, where 80 percent are more concerned compared to a year ago, followed by Afghanistan (78 percent) and Turkiye (77 percent).
Saudi Arabia saw the lowest increase in climate fears, with 25 percent more worried, followed by Russia (34 percent), Czech Republic (36 percent) and China (39 percent).
More than two-thirds of survey respondents (69 percent) said that global warming had impacted their life decisions, such as where to live or work and what to buy.
But Achim Steiner, head of the UNDP, said these concerns do not necessarily translate into electoral and consumer decisions.
“I would do more. But the others won’t. So I will not do anything,” Steiner said of what he called people’s “perception gap” on climate action.