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Cameroon army killed nine civilians in anglophone west — HRW

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Cameroon army on Thursday of killing nine civilians, including a six-year-old girl, in a raid last month on a village in the troubled English-speaking west of the country.

The accusation relates to an incident on January 10 that the army, which is fighting armed separatists in the region, says was a fight with “terrorists.” It dismissed the HRW report as “biased… (and) distorted.”

“Witnesses said that over 50 soldiers… entered Mautu on foot at about 2 pm on January 10 and started shooting indiscriminately as people fled,” HRW said.

“The witnesses said that soldiers killed nine people, including a 50-year-old woman and a six-year-old girl, and went house-to-house searching for separatist fighters and weapons, threatening residents and looting people’s belongings,” it said in a statement.

The same day, several videos and photos were posted on social media including one showing a woman and child clearly being shot dead. Another showed several men lying on the ground.

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HRW said the footage “matched the victims filmed with the descriptions of the victims known to have been killed” and concluded “that the videos were captured within hours of the attack.”

On January 11 the army denied killing any civilians at Mautu, saying it had carried out a “preventive” raid on “terrorist groups’ positions.”

“Armed individuals… immediately opened fire” on the soldiers, who “inflicted an appropriate response on them,” army spokesman Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo said at the time, adding that the army acted in “strict respect of the rules of engagement.”

“Several terrorists were neutralised, others were wounded or put to flight,” he said.

In a written response to AFP on Thursday, the spokesman lashed HRW’s report as a “biased account… a usual jumble of selected snippets of distorted facts.”

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France, the influential former colonial power, on January 12 issued a statement to “condemn the attack” at Mautu, which it said had claimed the lives of eight civilians. It did not apportion blame.

Three days later, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also highlighted the incident and said he “noted the government’s will to open an inquiry.”

The army has promised to carry out a “detailed investigation” but this has yet to be made public.

– Bloodshed –

Mautu lies in the Southwest Region, which with the neighbouring Northwest Region is home to Cameroon’s English-speaking minority.

In 2017, resentment over years of perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority resulted in a declaration of independence by anglophone radicals.

Their self-declared state, Ambazonia, has not been recognised internationally, and the central government in Yaounde has responded with a crackdown.

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Civilians are often caught up in the fighting, suffering at the hands of both sides, international aid groups and the UN say.

So far more than 3,000 people have died and more than 700,000 have fled their homes during the conflict.

On December 17, a trial opened in Yaounde of three soldiers accused of killing 13 civilians in the village of Ngarbuh, in the Northwest Region, in February 2020.

The government initially dismissed any responsibility for civilian deaths.

It blamed fatalities on an “unfortunate accident” that occurred when a fuel tank exploded in a fire fight between soldiers and “terrorists.”

The UN says 23 civilians were killed in that incident, including 15 children and two pregnant women.

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Markets, roads closed in southeast Nigeria in solidarity with Kanu

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Cemetery market in Aba, Abia State

Residents of south-eastern Nigeria have closed markets and some entry points into cities in solidarity with Biafran pro-independence leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is now before the Federal High Court in Abuja for trial.

Some international markets in Abia, Onitsha, Nnewi and others, including entry points to some cities, were closed in the early hours of Monday July 26, 2021.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

Nnamdi Kanu

He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the Nigeria.

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US citizens arrested in Nigeria for taking photos during Kanu’s trial

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Nigeria's Department of State Services personnel

ABUJA — Two foreigners suspected of being American journalists were arrested Monday July 26 in Nigeria for having taken photos on the eve of the trial of Biafran pro- independence leader Nnamdi Kanu.

According to the report, the two men were arrested by the country’s secret service — Department of State Services at a hotel, Treasure Suites, opposite the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The Peoples Gazette reports that a phone belonging to another man in the hotel was seized by the DSS, who accuses him of following the trial of the separatist leader from the hotel.

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“They even entered the hotel and got the manager to show them their CCTV footage to be able to locate one of the men and seized his phone,” a police officer told Peoples Gazette at the scene.

The Nigerian had announced banned on international and other media from covering the trial of Mr. Kanu in court.

A statement signed by Chief Information Officer, Catherine Oby Christopher on Monday noted that the DSS has only accredited 10 Nigerian media organizations, namely: ThisDay, Premium Times, The Nation, Daily Independent, The Herald, National Television Authority , Continental Television, African Independent Television, Daily Post and Channels Television.

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No reason was given by authorities who refused to comment on the sudden violation of press freedom and citizens’ rights to monitor a trial.

Nnamdi Kanu, human rights activist is currently being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after being seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

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Man accused of trying to kill Mali president dies in custody

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Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing "very well", downplaying the significance of the assault.

A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.

“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.

It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.

A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.

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“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.

“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”

His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.

The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.

His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.

Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.

On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.

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– Political instability –

The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over graft and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and premier Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.

In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.

As the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS piled on pressure, Goita vowed the government would uphold all commitments and pledged to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

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Mali’s neighbours and allies have been viewing the crisis with disquiet, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency that is unfurling across the Sahel region.

The bloody campaign erupted in the north of Mali in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

France, the mainstay of the anti-jihadist operation, has been especially critical of the military takeover in Mali.

It suspended military cooperation after the second coup and then announced a major drawdown of its 5,100-man Barkhane mission.

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