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100 killed, 19 others missing in Mali massacre

It came less than three weeks after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon.

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100 killed, 19 others missing in Mali massacre

Nearly 100 people were killed in a gruesome overnight attack on a village in central Mali, in the latest violence to strike the country, officials said Monday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the massacre, targeting a village inhabited by the Dogon community, bore the hallmarks of tit-for-tat ethnic attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives.

It came less than three weeks after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon. 

“Right now, we have 95 dead civilians. The bodies are burned, we are continuing to look for others,” an official in Koundou district, where the village of Sobane-Kou is located, told reporters.

The government, giving a provisional toll, said 95 people had been killed, 19 were missing, numerous farm animals had been slaughtered and homes had been torched.

“Armed men, suspected to be terrorists, launched a murderous attack on this peaceful village,” it said in a statement. 

A Malian security source at the site of the massacre said “a Dogon village has been virtually wiped out.”

The local official said the attackers came and “started shooting, pillaging and burning.” 

The village had about 300 inhabitants, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An association of Dogon traditional hunters, called Dan Nan Ambassagou, deplored the “barbaric and vile” attack which it described as tantamount to genocide.

A brutal cycle of violence in central Mali, an ethnic mosaic, began after a predominantly Fulani jihadist group led by preacher, Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.

It started targeting the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups, which in turn started to form “self-defence groups” of their own. The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon are traditionally sedentary farmers. 

On May 16, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced it had recorded “at least 488 deaths” in attacks on Fulanis in the central regions of Mopti and Segou since January 2018.

In the bloodiest raid, about 160 Fulani villagers were slaughtered on March 23 at Ogossagou, near the border with Burkina Faso, by suspected Dogon hunters.

According to MINUSMA, armed Fulanis had “caused 63 deaths” among civilians in the Mopti region, also since January 2018.

“It’s a shock, a tragedy,” MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said of the latest bloodletting, noting that it came at a time “when we are discussing the renewal of the (MINUSMA) mandate.”

There are currently about 14,700 troops and police deployed in Mali, which ranks as the most dangerous UN mission, with 125 peacekeepers killed in attacks since deployment in 2013. 

Donor countries to MINUSMA are to meet at the UN on Wednesday. A decision on renewing the force’s mandate is expected by June 27.

UN warning –

Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, Annadif voiced regret that the Malian authorities had not been present enough in the area to prevent such violence.  

Just a week earlier, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres had warned of a “high risk” of atrocities and called on the government to strengthen its response to extremist groups.

“If these concerns are not addressed, there is a high risk of further escalation that could lead to the commission of atrocity crimes,” he wrote in a report to the UN Security Council. 

In Monday’s statement, the Malian government expressed its condolences and said “every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed.”

“Reinforcements are currently deployed in the sector and carrying out a wide-ranging search,” it said in a statement.

MINUSMA was established after radical Islamist and Tuareg militias seized the north of the country in 2012. 

The insurgents were pushed back by French troops in 2013. A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups aimed at restoring stability. 

But the accord failed to stop jihadist violence, which then shifted to central Mali, inflaming ancient inter-ethnic hostility.

Koufa in March 2017 joined the newly-formed Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the leading jihadist alliance in the Sahel region, with links to Al-Qaeda. Its leader is Iyad Ag Ghaly.

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Central Africa Politics

Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October

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Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville
Gabon's President Ali Bongo (C-L) and his wife Sylvia Bongo (C-R) sit on the tribune as they attend a parade during the country's independence day celebration in Libreville, on August 17, 2019, marking its independence from France in 1960. - Ali Bongo on August 17, 2019 made a rare public appearance to attend the country's independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. (Photo by Steve JORDAN / AFP)

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Saturday made a rare public appearance to attend the country’s independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. 

Bongo, whose every move is scrutinised for signs of his state of health, on Friday made his first public appearance since his illness, taking part in events on the eve of celebrations to mark Gabon’s independence. 

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October, except for appearances filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.

Standing straight in an army vehicle, in a dark suit and dark glasses, Bongo on Saturday arrived at the military parade on Libreville’s main boulevard along the capital’s seafront. 

President Ali Bongo of Gabon on August 16, 2019 made his first live appearance in public nearly 10 months after suffering a stroke, attending ceremonies in the capital Libreville. (Photo by STEVE JORDAN / AFP)

Early on Saturday morning, many people had flocked to the seafront, trying to make their way through many security barriers to catch a glimpse of their leader.

“There are people who said he was sick, but he was able to greet us,” said Mama Youssouf, a young spectator in the crowd.

Speculation about 60-year-old Bongo’s capacity to rule the country surged after he suffered a stroke while in Saudi Arabia.

He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning in January. During his extended absence, the army quashed a brief attempted coup.

Ten members of Gabon’s political opposition, civil society and trade union movement have filed a suit requesting Bongo be assessed to see whether he is medically fit to continue in office.

A lower court dismissed the case in May, saying only the two houses of parliament, or the Constitutional Court acting for the government, were empowered to determine whether the president was unfit.

But the Court of Appeal has said it would hear an appeal by the plaintiffs and set a date for it — August 26.

Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who became head of state in 1967 and died in June 2009, leaving a legacy of corruption allegations.

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Libyan National Army attack Mitiga airport and Zuwara airfield

Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 08, 2019, shows the Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli. - Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Tripoli’s sole functioning airport Mitiga and Zuwara airfield were targeted for the second time in less than 48 hours – the former hit overnight Thursday and the latter on Friday morning.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) reported that three people were wounded in the raids by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar against the two airports under its control.

Airport management at Mitiga reported rocket fire against the runway “as planes took off and landed”. 

The UN-recognised GNA said on Facebook that Haftar’s forces “targeted employees of the airport services company” at Mitiga with Grad missiles, causing shrapnel wounds to two workers and damaging a bus.

Flights were temporarily suspended or rerouted to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of Tripoli.

In the attack against Zuwara airfield, Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.

The Tripoli-based GNA said a member of civil protection was wounded in that attack.

Pro-Haftar forces also “targeted other hangars… located 1.5 kilometres to the east of Abu Kamach”, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari said on Facebook.

The country’s biggest petrochemical complex is located there, near the Tunisian border.

Forces loyal to the GNA and the LNA are embroiled in a stalemate in Tripoli’s southern outskirts after Haftar launched an offensive against the capital in April.

Fighting over the last four months has killed 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, according to the World Health Organization. 

Some 120,000 have been displaced over the same period.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

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Mozambique’s Renamo party says members attacked after peace deal

Renamo spokesman, Jose Manteigas said party members have been assaulted by police and members of the ruling Frelimo party

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Mozambique's Renamo party says members attacked after peace deal
(Photo by STEFAN BARBIER / AFP)

Mozambique’s former rebel group-turned-opposition party Renamo on Friday said its members came under attack just days after the signing of a historic peace deal aimed at ending years of conflict. 

Renamo spokesman, Jose Manteigas said dozens of party members have been assaulted by police and members of the ruling Frelimo party across the country, adding that the attacks could threaten the landmark peace agreement.

He said Renamo members have been beaten and their houses and other properties torched in the provinces of Tete, Zambezia, Inhambane and Gaza, mainly in night-time attacks since August 8.

That was just two days after the much-hailed and long-awaited peace deal was signed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade on August 6.

“Unfortunately, contrary to the common desire for peace, national reconciliation, acceptance of different thinking and peaceful political cohabitation, two days after the signing of the Maputo Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, acts of violence and political intolerance were perpetrated by members of the Frelimo party, (and) police… in various parts of the country,” Manteigas said.

“These macabre acts are politically motivated” and bring into “question the effectiveness of the agreement,” he told reporters at the party headquarters in the capital Maputo.

He added that said senior Frelimo officials, particularly in the northwest of the country, have consistently prevented Renamo from carrying out political activities.

The allegations come just two weeks before campaigning begins for general elections on October 15 that Frelimo, the country’s dominant political force for more than four decades, is expected to win.

After the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975, Renamo fought a brutal civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before fighting stopped in 1992.

Despite the end of the civil war — and the group transforming into a political party — Renamo retained an armed wing.

Fresh clashes then erupted again between government forces and Renamo fighters between 2013 and 2016.

However, Renamo started disarming its armed wing late last month as part of the peace deal.

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