Posts Tagged ‘looting’

South Sudan jails soldiers for aid worker rape, journalist murder

September 6, 2018

Ten South Sudanese soldiers have been given prison sentences over a brutal assault on foreign aid workers in 2016. Rights groups say troops need to be held accountable for crimes committed during the country’s civil war.

    
The judge in a military court in South Sudan

A South Sudanese military judge on Thursday jailed 10 soldiers over the gang-rape of five international aid workers and the murder of a journalist in a 2016 attack on a hotel in the capital, Juba.

The trial was widely seen as a test for President Salva Kiir’s ability to hold the army to account for its actions during the country’s five-year conflict.

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Salva Kiir

Two of the accused were given life sentences for executing local reporter John Gatluak Nhial, as well as rape and other offenses. The remaining soldiers were handed terms ranging from seven to 14 years for rape, sexual harassment and looting. One soldier was acquitted for lack of evidence, while a commander accused of overseeing the rampage died in jail during the trial.

Read moreSouth Sudan: a neglected conflict and donor fatigue

In July 2016, dozens of government soldiers stormed Juba’s Terrain Hotel, where several staff from international NGOs were staying. The besieged workers begged UN peacekeepers stationed nearby to intervene, but were told forces in the region had no capacity to help. The attack came amid an escalation in fighting that followed the collapse of a peace deal between Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Read moreSouth Sudan armed groups free over 300 child soldiers

Compensation ’embarrassing’

The judge ordered South Sudan’s government to pay the hotel more than $2 million (€1.7 million) in compensation, as well as $4,000 to each of the five rape victims. The family of the slain journalist was to receive 51 heads of cattle.

Lawyer Issa Muzamil Sebit, who represented the rape victims, called the compensation “very embarrassing” and “an insult.”

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All-female peacekeepers: In South Sudan, Nonviolent Peaceforce focuses on the protection of women and children

Human rights groups welcomed the verdict, but stressed that there were many more victims waiting for justice.

“The process was far from perfect, but shows that justice can be done where there is political will to do so,” said Jehanne Henry of Human Rights Watch in Africa.

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“After much foot dragging, today’s convictions and sentences represent a first step towards ending chronic impunity in South Sudan, where both government forces and the armed opposition have committed human rights violations and crimes under international law,” regional Amnesty International chief Seif Magango said.

Read moreSouth Sudan government, rebels sign security deal

France’s ambassador to South Sudan, Jean-Yves Roux, said he hoped the verdict would send a message that violence and impunity are not “business as usual, and that this trial opens the way for other trials.”

Civil war erupted in South Sudan in 2013, soon after the country’s formation, when Kiir accused Machar of plotting to oust him from power. Both government troops and rebel forces loyal to Marchar have been accused of committing atrocities during the conflict. Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting — including about 100 aid workers — and some 4 million have fled their homes.

nm/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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South Sudan court jails soldiers for aid workers rape, journalist murder

September 6, 2018

A South Sudan military court on Thursday found 10 soldiers guilty for their role in an attack on a Juba hotel in which five foreign aid workers were gang-raped, and a journalist was killed.

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“The military court has found out that the accused… are guilty for their direct responsibilities in committing these crimes,” said Judge Knight Baryano Almas, detailing charges of rape, murder, looting and destruction.

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South Sudanese soldiers wait for their verdict at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)

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One suspect was acquitted while another, a military commander accused of overseeing the chilling attack, died in prison last October in what the army said was a “natural death”.

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After 31 trial sessions, two soldiers were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of local journalist John Gatluak, as well as rape and other crimes.

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The others received sentences ranging from seven to 14 years for charges including rape, sexual harassment and looting.

The verdicts for South Sudanese soldiers are announced at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)

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Violence erupted in South Sudan’s capital when a peace deal between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar collapsed in July 2016.

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President Salva Kiir

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During the clashes, government forces rampaged through the Terrain hotel compound housing some 50 employees of foreign organisations.

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In his evidence at the start of the trial, the hotel’s British owner, Mike Woodward, said that “50 to 100 armed soldiers” broke into the compound.

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“One group proceeded straight to the bar and restaurant while another group continued to the residential area,” he said.

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Woodward listed “the gang rape of at least five international women”, the murder of a South Sudanese journalist, the shooting of a US aid worker and “the beating and torture of almost every person in the entire building”, including mock executions, among the crimes allegedly committed at his hotel.

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Woodward’s testimony is supported by reports compiled by the UN and Human Rights Watch.

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During the attack the aid workers made multiple appeals for help to nearby UN peacekeepers, which went unanswered.

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A special UN investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission — which has 13,000 uniformed personnel in South Sudan — culminated in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the July fighting.
The force’s Kenyan commander was sacked.

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FILE – In this Tuesday May 30, 2017 file photo, a South Sudanese soldier, center, walks from a prison van to attend his trial accused of a horrific attack on foreign aid workers in the Terrain hotel compound, at the court in the capital Juba, South Sudan. The verdict and sentencing for 11 South Sudan soldiers accused of gang raping foreign aid workers and murdering a local journalist during the country’s five-year civil war are due to be announced Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. Bullen Chol, File AP Photo

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The court on Thursday ruled that South Sudan’s government must pay compensation of $4,000 (3,440 euros) to each rape victim, and over $2 million to Woodward for damage to his property.
Gatluak’s family will be compensated with 51 head of cattle.

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“The leadership of the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) would like to issue an apology to the victims,” army spokesman Colonel Santo Domic told journalists after the ruling.

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He said the long trial and delayed verdict was because “most of the victims had left South Sudan immediately after the conflict, getting them took long.”

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Last year a victim from Italy returned to testify, while six others who were raped or sexually harassed gave testimony via video link, said Domic.

Woodward welcomed the verdict.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1367851/world

Watchdog: Turkish-backed forces looting Afrin, Syria

March 20, 2018
By Danielle Haynes  |  March 19, 2018 at 5:14 PM

UPI
Civilians carry their belongings at the recently captured city of Afrin, Syria, on Monday. Photo by Aref Tamwawi/EPA-EFE

March 19 (UPI) — Turkish-backed Syrian rebels looted properties in Afrin after taking control of the northern city, a Britain-based watchdog said Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel fighters stole items from political and military headquarters, machineries, vehicles, and shops that were previously under the control of Kurdish fighters.

Turkish-backed rebels took control of Afrin on Sunday after a two-month operation. A commander of the rebel forces blamed the looting on thieves.

The U.S. State Department said Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed rebels were prompting the evacuation of the majority of the city.

“This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” a statement from State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “We are also concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin. We have repeatedly expressed our serious concern to Turkish officials regarding the situation in Afrin.”

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/03/19/Watchdog-Turkish-backed-forces-looting-Afrin-Syria/9161521486012/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=8

Tampa mayor: Irma wrath not as bad as feared — The latest

September 11, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

7 a.m.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says that while the city hasn’t escaped Hurricane Irma’s wrath, the situation isn’t as bad as they had feared.

Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Buckhorn said “What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow.”

Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.

He said Tampa’s officials have vehicles positioned “to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets.”

He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:45 a.m.

Police in Miami are investigating reports of people looting stores as Hurricane Irma hit the state.

On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.

Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.

Police had issued a curfew Saturday night, partly to ward off looters by giving officers probable cause to stop anyone for being on the street during the storm.

Cabrera didn’t have specific details about the looting incidents.

Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida from coast-to-coast with winds up to 130 mph Sunday, swamping homes and boats, knocking out power to millions and toppling massive cranes. Irma’s winds slowed to around 100 mph before midnight. (Sept. 11)

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6:45 a.m.

The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm.

The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands were all pummeled by the hurricane last week, leaving thousands without electricity or shelter.

Opposition politicians have compared Britain’s response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.

Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it’s pledged to the relief effort.

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6:30 a.m.

Police in Lakeland, Florida, say a family with small children was rescued from a car that was submerged in water as Hurricane Irma crossed the area.

Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children’s car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.

“When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Facebook post said. “Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference.”

Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:30 a.m.

A Florida sheriff’s sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff’s vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.

Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.

Crews from Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the lines around 1:15 a.m. Monday. Both men have returned to their jobs to continue assisting hurricane recovery efforts.

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6:10 a.m.

More than 120 homes are being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in.

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.

A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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5 a.m.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula early Monday.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, hammering much of the state with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph (135 kph). Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a tropical storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.

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4:45 a.m.

Dutch search and rescue experts are heading to the shattered former colony of St. Maarten to support the humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that’s home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.

The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.

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2 a.m.

Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph (135 kph) with additional weakening expected.

As of 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).

Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.

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HURRICANE NEWSLETTER — Get the best of the AP’s all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

Riots, looting and gunfire across the Kenyan capital amid anger over ‘rigged election’

August 12, 2017

  • Incumbant President Uhuru Kenyatta has won a second term in Kenya
  • But the opposition candidate Raila Odinga has claimed the election was rigged
  • Kenyatta has called for unity after the vote, saying there is no need for violence 
  • As some celebrated, fires and riots broke out in the capital’s slums this evening 

Riots and celebrations started in Kenya after the electoral commission announced President Uhuru Kenyatta has won a second term.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga was quick to claim the vote was rigged and protests started in Nairobi after the result was announced.

Police have reportedly used teargas on protesters in the Kisumu and Nairobi slums.

Angry protests erupted almost immediately in Odinga’s strongholds: in Nairobi’s biggest slum Kibera police fired bullets in the direction of protesters, who looted and attacked businesses they said belonged to Kenyatta supporters.

Riots broke out across slums in Nairobi after the incumbant president held onto power with 54 per cent of the vote

Riots broke out across slums in Nairobi after the incumbant president held onto power with 54 per cent of the vote

Businesses were burnt and fires set while others celebrated with flags and vuvuzelas 

Businesses were burnt and fires set while others celebrated with flags and vuvuzelas

In other slum and poor areas around the capital, as well as the western city of Kisumu, gunshots rang out and protesters lit fires in the street.

The fury from Odinga’s supporters came in stark contrast to the cheers from Kenyatta’s camp in his strongholds, with vuvuzelas and cries of joy in the streets.

The Kenyan commission said Mr Kenyatta won Tuesday’s election with 54 per cent of the vote and called the poll ‘credible, fair and peaceful’.

Mr Kenyatta called for peace and unity after the announcement and said: ‘There is no need for violence.’

Protestors loot and burn premises belonging to the Kikuyu tribe on August 11 in the Kibera slum of Nairobi

Protestors loot and burn premises belonging to the Kikuyu tribe on August 11 in the Kibera slum of Nairobi

Riot police officers fire tear gas in Kawangware slum in Nairobi. Police and rioters clashed today

Riot police officers fire tear gas in Kawangware slum in Nairobi. Police and rioters clashed today

Kenyan police officers clear a street in the Kawangware slum after an officer was hit in the head with a rock

Kenyan police officers clear a street in the Kawangware slum after an officer was hit in the head with a rock

Kenyan police officers grab a motorcycle driver who drove through a street they had cleared a few minutes prior in the Kawangware slum

Kenyan police officers grab a motorcycle driver who drove through a street they had cleared a few minutes prior in the Kawangware slum

Hundreds of police in anti-riot gear lined the streets of the capital, Nairobi, amid fears of further protests by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga who claims the vote was rigged.

A witness and police are reporting gunshots and screams in at least two areas of Kenya where residents support opposition candidate Ralia Odinga.

They say the unrest broke out after Kenya’s election commission announced that President Uhuru Kenyatta had won a second term, defeating Odinga.

Gunshots have been reported in the Nairobi slum of Kibera and in the southwestern city of Kisumu. Youth are reported to be stoning cars in Kibera.

Police clashed with opposition supporters as Uhuru Kenyatta was announced as president for his second term

Police clashed with opposition supporters as Uhuru Kenyatta was announced as president for his second term

Tensions are high in the capital of Nairobi after the election result was announced today

Tensions are high in the capital of Nairobi after the election result was announced today

Kenyan police officers clear debris and stones from a barricaded road after a protest by supporters of the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition presidential candidate on August 11

Kenyan police officers clear debris and stones from a barricaded road after a protest by supporters of the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition presidential candidate on August 11

Protesters reacted quickly and angrily to the news that Odinga had lost, and there are reports of gunshots

Protesters reacted quickly and angrily to the news that Odinga had lost, and there are reports of gunshots

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta applauds after he was announced winner of the presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta applauds after he was announced winner of the presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre

Kenyatta celebrates with Deputy President William Ruto after he was announced winner of the presidential election

Kenyatta celebrates with Deputy President William Ruto after he was announced winner of the presidential election

Kisumu resident Lucas Odhiambo said: ‘There are gunshots all over; we don’t know how it will end but we are praying for peace.

‘There was peace but people started blowing vuvuzelas as soon as the results were announced and police moved in.’

Kenya’s president is asking the country to ‘shun violence’ as unrest erupts in some opposition areas after the country’s election commission announced he had won a second term.

He has not commented on Odlinga’s allegations.

Supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga have rejected the results but said challenging them in court is not an option. Odinga made a legal challenge after losing to Kenyatta in 2013, alleging vote-tampering, but was unsuccessful.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is asking the country to avoid the kind of violence that followed the 2007 election, when more than 1,000 people were killed.

‘We have seen the results of political violence, and I am certain there is no single Kenyan who would wish to go back to those days,’ Kenyatta said.

The country has been concerned about the kind of post-election violence that rocked Kenya a decade ago and left more than 1,000 dead. The country has largely been peaceful since Tuesday’s election.

A spokesman called the vote a ‘charade’ and said going to court to challenge it is not an option.

Kenyan police officers patrol following a protest by supporters of the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition presidential candidate on August 11

Kenyan police officers patrol following a protest by supporters of the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition presidential candidate on August 11

Supporters of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta cheer as they await an expected announcement of election results

Supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta cheer as they await an expected announcement of election results

President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto hold their certificates after winning the election

President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto hold their certificates after winning the election

Kenya Deputy President William Ruto speaks to Kenyatta on the phone earlier today

Kenya Deputy President William Ruto speaks to Kenyatta on the phone earlier today

Raila Odinga rejected the initial polls showing Kenyatta would win saying that the official tally doesn't match their own count

Raila Odinga rejected the initial polls showing Kenyatta would win saying that the official tally doesn’t match their own count

Kenyatta and Ruto congratulate each other after their party's victory in the election

Kenyatta and Ruto congratulate each other after their party’s victory in the election

The election has been a test of the stability of the East African economic power as many recalled the post-election violence a decade ago that left more than 1,000 dead.

Kenya has been relatively calm this week.

Earlier this week, an election official from the ruling party was hacked to death by a machete-wielding gang after Odinga claimed the election was ‘stolen’.

The incident happened at a tallying centre in Kenya’s coastal Tana River county and police shot dead two attackers, a witness said.

Earlier that night, Odinga claimed the country’s election was a sham.

Supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga set shops fire during a demonstration against the election results in Garissa, Kenya on August 10

Supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga set shops fire during a demonstration against the election results in Garissa, Kenya on August 10

A local man tries to extinguish fire caused by supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga

A local man tries to extinguish fire caused by supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga

A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga shouts in Kibera slum in Nairobi

A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga shouts in Kibera slum in Nairobi

A supporter of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a sign in Kisumu

A supporter of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a sign in Kisumu

He said the electronic voting system had been hacked using the identity of a murdered IT official, with protests breaking out straight after his speech.

Two people were killed in Nairobi as they took advantage of the protests to steal, Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said, with one being shot in the head.

Kenyan police opened fire on people protesting election results earlier in another opposition stronghold – South Mugirango constituency – killing one person.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4783062/President-Kenyatta-WINS-Kenya-s-election-say-officials.html#ixzz4pWg59mG3
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Supporters of the opposition leader Raila Odinga burn a tyre

Supporters of the opposition leader Raila Odinga burn a tyre CREDIT: EPA

With violent protests also being reported in Kisumu, Kenya’s third city, there were fears that the former British colony could witness a reprise of the violence that claimed 1,300 lives after Mr Odinga’s defeat in another election ten years ago.

Members of Mr Odinga’s Luo ethnic group attacked property belonging to members of the president’s tribe in Nairobi’s Kibera slum as police struggled to control the violence, despite being deployed in record numbers.

“They are burning down Kikuyu homes,” a resident said.

With 180,000 security personnel drawn from the army, police and even the forestry service on standby, Kenyan authorities will hope to stamp out the violence quickly.

A supporter wears a cloth wrap showing Kenya's incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta

A supporter wears a cloth wrap showing Kenya’s incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta CREDIT: AP

But many worry what the human cost of such a massive show of force might be.

“There are gunshots all over,” Lucas Odhiambo, a Kisumu resident, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We don’t know how it will end but we are praying for peace.

Mr Kenyatta appealed for calm but there was no word from his vanquished rival, who has hinted that he may take his battle for the presidency, which he claimed to have won, to the streets.

Moments before the official announcement was made, the opposition rejected the result and walked out of the main election centre.

Kenya police officers stand guard ahead of Friday's announcement

Kenya police officers stand guard ahead of Friday’s announcement CREDIT: EPA
 A police officer stands guard at the national tallying centre as Kenyans await the announcement on Friday
A police officer stands guard at the national tallying centre as Kenyans await the announcement on Friday CREDIT: EPA

“We are not going to be party to this,” Musalia Mudavadi, one of the opposition coalition’s five leaders, said. “Our issues have not been addressed.”

Defying international pressure, the Odinga campaign ruled out a legal challenge.

“For us going to court is not an alternative,” James Orengo, a manager of the Odinga campaign, said. “We have been there before.”

The opposition had earlier demanded that Mr Odinga be declared president after claiming an elaborate conspiracy to cheat him of victory.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/11/kenya-declares-uhuru-kenyatta-official-winner-tense-presidential/

Venezuela: State police departments placed under National Guard control — “There is no food and no medicines.”

April 23, 2017

At least 20 have died since April 4 as frustrated Venezuelans protest Maduro government

By Ana Vanessa Herrero, CBC News Posted: Apr 22, 2017 4:31 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 22, 2017 8:06 PM ET

Protesters hold up white flowers during a silent protest in homage to the at least 20 people killed in unrest generated after the nation's Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers. Saturday's protest is the latest mass gathering yet in a wave of tumult that has rocked the nation.

Protesters hold up white flowers during a silent protest in homage to the at least 20 people killed in unrest generated after the nation’s Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers. Saturday’s protest is the latest mass gathering yet in a wave of tumult that has rocked the nation. (Fernando Llano/Associated Press)

The smell of tear gas and smoke from fires filled the air in several Caracas neighbourhoods on Friday after a night that saw at least 12 people die.  In the humble district of El Valle, people screamed, while the sound of gunshots sent neighbours and protesters running for safety

Protesters are vowing to continue their opposition to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, after the deadliest day in three weeks of one anti-government protest after another.

Among the dead were eight people who were electrocuted in a bakery as it was being looted. About 20 have died in the past month, most shot in the head.

“This was like the wild, Wild West. During two hours we could only hear gunshots and detonations,” said Ana Tiapa, 36, a resident of El Valle. “Two hours this lasted, then, you could only hear people running in and out of businesses; the sound of looting.”

Venezuela looting

A shopkeeper surveys damage to his shop after looting in Caracas Thursday night and Friday morning. (Reuters)

The violence played out in at least five locations in the Venezuelan capital, beginning at sundown after  the opposition called for more street protests to pressure the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Life is difficult in Venezuela

A Supreme Court decision that stripped the opposition controlled National Assembly of its powers on April 4 began the series of protests. The court later reversed its decision, but the unrest had begun, as life has become increasingly difficult in the formerly oil-rich nation.

Venezuelans face inflation that hit 550 per cent in 2016, according to Congressman Jose Guerra, though the government cites an IMF estimate of 274 per cent.

Shortages of food and medicines have people waiting in long lines to buy something as simple as sugar or soap.

Michelle Mijares, a 23-year-old nurse, says street demonstrations seem the only way to apply pressure to this government.

“You can see people are very upset, and right now, we are ready for anything,” she said.

National Guard steps in

On Tuesday, Maduro announced he was placing state police departments under National Guard control, further militarizing the country.

Venezuela Political Crisis

A demonstrator stands in front of a Bolivarian National Guard armored vehicle blocking its way during anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday, April 19. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)

The government has also taken over or blocked all media, making it difficult to confirm news, including the number of dead. Twitter is the main source of information in the country, with journalists using it to send out information and protestors using it to let others know what is happening on the ground.

On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of people marched in 20 different locations in the capital, resulting in a rain of tear gas and rubber bullets from the National Guard.

Government supporters and opposition activists screamed at each other and security forces blocked demonstrators as they tried to reach the Ombudsman’s office.

More than 200 people were injured and a 17-year-old boy was fatally shot in the head by armed groups that support the government, according to witnesses.

“I’m sick and tired,” said 21-year-old medical student Leonel Bolivar. “There is no food and no medicines for all future patients I will meet.”

The MUD, a coalition of opposition political parties, announced a new protest for Saturday to honour those who were murdered in the past month.

Those protests, which involved thousands holding white flowers, were mostly peaceful, but also drew a heavy police presence.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/venezuela-protests-looting-1.4081510

Venezuela crisis: Three killed at anti-government protests amid massive unrest

April 20, 2017

BBC News

April 20, 2017

0600 GMT

march
Demonstrators want new elections and the release of opposition politicians. Reuters photo

At least three people have been killed in Venezuela in protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

A teenager in the capital Caracas and a woman in San Cristobal, near the Colombian border, were shot dead.

A national guardsman was killed south of the capital.

Tens of thousands of people rallied to demand new presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians. Mr Maduro accused the opposition of attacking police.

He also accused them of looting shops, saying that more than 30 arrests had been made.

Supporters of the government held a rival rally in Caracas.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles has called for further mass protests on Thursday.

Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela has suffered for several years from high inflation, rampant crime and a shortage of basic goods.

What is behind the turmoil?

The protests taking place across the country were expected to be the biggest in three years, putting extra pressure on President Maduro to negotiate with the opposition and find a way of easing the country’s economic crisis.

Clashes in Venezuela. Photo: 19 April 2017
There were clashes between protesters and riot police. Reuters Photo
Maduro supporters. Photo: 19 April 2017
Supporters of Mr Maduro held a rally. Reuters
People run with looted items in Caracas. Photo: 19 April 2017
Looting was also reported in Caracas. Reuters

Anti-government protesters have described it as Venezuela’s “second independence day”.

Elections are not due until late 2018, but the opposition says the country is on the verge of collapse. Inflation is expected to top 700% this year, the IMF says.

The latest crisis was triggered by last month’s Supreme Court decision to officially take over power from the opposition-controlled parliament.

The Supreme Court reversed its decision after three days, but it was too late to prevent a new wave of protests.

Venezuela has now seen weeks of clashes between demonstrators and police. The latest deaths bring the number killed to at least eight, with many more injured.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-39645809

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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Protesters demanding elections and a return to democratic rule jammed the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities on Wednesday. National Guard troops and government-aligned militias beat crowds back with tear gas, rubber bullets and other weapons, and at least three people were killed, according to human rights groups and news reports.

President Nicolás Maduro defied international calls, including a plea from the American State Department, to allow peaceful assemblies and ordered his forces into the streets. Some demonstrators, wearing masks to protect themselves from tear gas, fought back with firebombs.

Wednesday’s rallies, like the one here in Caracas, attracted thousands of people, the latest in of a string of demonstrations against the increasingly autocratic rule of President Nicolás Maduro.CreditCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Still, despite the deaths in recent protests, now numbering seven, Wednesday’s rallies attracted thousands of people, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the increasingly autocratic rule of Mr. Maduro. Labeled by organizers “the mother of all protests,” it showed that a sustained movement in the streets against Mr. Maduro may now be forming.

Opposition leaders called for more rallies on Thursday.

Carlos Moreno, 17, was fatally shot by a pro-government gang on Wednesday, according to witnesses and local news reports.

He was attacked after hundreds of pro-government gang members arrived and surrounded protesters, throwing tear gas canisters, Arturo Ríos, a witness, said in an interview. Mr. Ríos said the group then began to open fire.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/world/americas/venezuela-caracas-maduro-protests.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

Read the rest:

 

Central African Republic: Militia fighters hunt down and kill members of the Muslim Fulani ethnic group — 85 civilians dead

November 26, 2016

Militia went door-to-door killing, looting and abducting, according to the United Nations’ genocide official

 Saturday 26 November 2016
Reuters
United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, where ethnic tensions have left 85 people dead.
United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, where ethnic tensions have left 85 people dead. Photograph: Pacome Pabamdji/AFP/Getty Images

Clashes erupted on Monday in Bria, a town about 600 km north-east of the capital Bangui, between rival rebel groups the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).

In a statement, Adama Dieng, the UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said the FPRC reportedly singled out ethnic Fulani in the town, carrying out house-to-house searches, killing, looting and abducting residents.
The UPC is largely composed of Fulani, a group of historically nomadic herders found across west and central Africa.

FPRC fighters also entered hospital buildings and prevented wounded Fulani from receiving medical treatment. In addition to the dead, another 76 people were wounded and nearly 11,000 displaced by the violence, Dieng said. Fighting between the FPRC and UPC also broke out in the town of Bambari.

“If carried out in a widespread or systematic manner, such acts could constitute crimes under international law that can be prosecuted before national or international courts,” Dieng said.

Central African Republic map
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_African_Republic

Both the FPRC and UPC are former members of the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance that united to oust then-President Francois Bozize in 2013. Their overthrow of the government of the majority Christian nation and subsequent human rights abuses sparked a backlash from Christian militias, known as anti-balaka.

Thousands were killed in the ensuing ethnic cleansing which led to the de facto partition of Central African Republic into a Muslim north and Christian south. Successful elections, seen as essential to ending the chaos, were held earlier this year. But flare-ups of violence are a regular occurrence.

This week’s clashes in Bria were the worst instance of ethnic killing since France ended its peacekeeping mission last month, leaving security largely in the hands of the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force.

The UN mission, known as MINUSCA, reinforced its presence in Bria in an attempt to prevent any further escalation in the violence. And Dieng called for investigations to identify those responsible.

Related for Africa this week:

Aung San Suu Kyi Under Pressure After Reports Say Myanmar’s Army Guilty of Killing, Rapes of Muslim Rohingya

October 31, 2016

Reuters

Mon Oct 31, 2016 | 11:24am EDT

By Simon Lewis, Wa Lone and Shwe Yee Saw Myint | NAYPYITAW/YANGON

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces mounting criticism for her government’s handling of a crisis in Muslim-majority northern Rakhine State, where soldiers have blocked access for aid workers and are accused of raping and killing civilians.

The military operation has sharpened the tension between Suu Kyi’s six-month-old civilian administration and the army, which ruled the country for decades and retains key powers, including control of ministries responsible for security.

Exposing the lack of oversight of the armed forces by the government, military commanders have ignored requests for information about alleged misconduct by soldiers for more than 10 days, according to a senior civilian official.

Troops moved into northern Rakhine, near the frontier with Bangladesh, after militants killed nine border police in coordinated attacks on Oct. 9.

Since then, the government has said five soldiers and at least 33 insurgents have been killed in clashes with a group it believes has around 400 members drawn from the mostly stateless Rohingya Muslim minority.

While Myanmar’s army-drafted constitution puts the military firmly in control of security matters, diplomats and aid workers say privately they are dismayed at Suu Kyi’s lack of deeper involvement in the handling of the crisis.

Suu Kyi, who as well as effectively leading the government as state counselor is also Myanmar’s foreign minister, has pressed ahead with a busy schedule of overseas trips.

When fighting erupted in Rakhine, she departed for a four-day visit to India, and is due to leave again on Tuesday for a five-day trip to Japan.

“Right now there’s only one person calling the shots – when she’s abroad, nothing gets done,” said an international observer familiar with the situation, echoing previous criticisms of Suu Kyi’s autocratic decision-making style.

United Nations human rights experts have urged the government to investigate the allegations of abuses by troops and U.N. agencies have called for aid access to the area.

Suu Kyi has not directly commented on those calls or on statements from human rights monitors, although she has urged the military to exercise restraint and act within the law.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

In its public comments the government – largely through presidential spokesman Zaw Htay, a former soldier and holdover from the previous military-aligned administration – has backed the military line that the army is conducting carefully targeted sweeps against Islamist militants it blames for the Oct. 9 attacks.

But residents and rights groups have reported killings, looting and sexual assaults committed by soldiers against civilians.

Pointing to behind-the-scenes tensions, Reuters has obtained a list of 13 questions the civilian side of the government has sent to the military, requesting information about reports of killings, looting, arrests and destruction of homes.

“We submitted the list on Oct. 20, but we still haven’t heard back,” said a civilian official who refused to be identified because he was not allowed to discuss the previously unpublished list with the media.

Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw – a confidant handpicked by the Nobel laureate – met the military’s top brass on Oct. 14 and urged a restrained and judicious response to the attacks.

Civilian officials were “managing that problem very closely”, Zaw Htay told Reuters on Friday.

“They already agreed on the policy. That’s why the military and the interior ministry ordered ground troops and police in Rakhine to work according to the law,” he said.

Richard Horsey, a former United Nations official and analyst based in Yangon said that since taking power Suu Kyi’s government had established a level of “confidence and trust” with the military leadership.

Still, it remains unclear whether there is the “active, working-level relationship” needed to address concerns about the military’s actions in Rakhine, he said.

MORE REPORTS OF LOOTING

Civilian and police officials have said it was not possible that security forces had committed abuses.

Diplomats and United Nations officials want independent observers allowed into the area to verify the reports. They are also pressuring the government to allow humanitarian aid into the area, where the Rohingya population are denied Myanmar citizenship and face restrictions on their movements.

Last week, eight Rohingya women told Reuters reporters who visited their village that they have been raped by soldiers. Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay denied the allegations.

Since that report was published, about 400 soldiers again searched the village at the weekend, a resident said on Monday.

The resident, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said security personnel warned women in the village of U Shey Kya about talking to media.

There were no allegations of further assaults, but soldiers looted food stores, farming equipment and solar panels, according to the resident and Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a monitoring group with a network of sources in the area.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had analyzed satellite imagery taken on Oct. 22 that showed “multiple areas of probable building destruction” in at least three villages where residents have also said that troops torched homes.

“The government should end its blanket denial of wrongdoing and blocking of aid agencies, and stop making excuses for keeping international monitors from the area,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Human Rights Watch in Asia.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

Related:

Two burned alive in Zambia anti-foreigner riots

April 20, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Zambian police apprehend a man in Lusaka where residents have attacked and looted foreign-run shops, on April 19, 2016

LUSAKA (AFP) – At least two people have been burned to death in Zambia in riots targeting Rwandan-owned shops over allegations that foreigners were behind a string of ritual killings in Lusaka, police said Wednesday.

The violence erupted earlier this week in slum areas of the capital after the recent murders of at least seven people, whose body parts such as ears, hearts and penises had been removed.

Hundreds of residents stoned houses and shops owned by foreign nationals, with some foreigners seeking refuge at police stations as looters took food, drinks, refrigerators and other electrical appliances.

“The official number of people who have died from the time the looting started is two. These are the ones who were burned to death on 18 April 2016 in Kanyama,” police spokeswoman Charity Chanda said in a statement.

Police were unable to confirm the nationality of Monday’s victims.

Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila blamed the riots on false allegations that a suspected ritual killer of foreign nationality had been released from police custody.

Several thousand refugees from Rwanda live in Lusaka.

They run many of the shops in the affected parts of the city, and residents have accused them of using the body parts for witchcraft.

No rioting was reported overnight or on Wednesday morning.