Tag Archives: Dozens

Myanmar military imposes martial law over country’s largest city after dozens killed

Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

The United Nations said at least 138 peaceful protesters have been killed in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 military coup, including at least 56 killed over the weekend.

The developments were the latest setback to hopes of resolving a crisis that started with the military’s seizure of power that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A grassroots movement has sprung up across the country to challenge the takeover with almost daily protests that the army has tried to crush with increasingly deadly violence.

State broadcaster MRTV said on Monday that the Yangon townships of North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa have been put under martial law. That was in addition to two others — Hlaing Thar Yar and neighbouring Shwepyitha — announced late Sunday.

More violence was reported around the country on Monday, with at least eight protesters killed in four cities or towns, according to the independent broadcaster and news service Democratic Voice of Burma.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed long convoys of trucks entering Yangon.


The body of Saw Pyae Naing is placed in a hearse in Mandalay on Sunday. Saw Pyae Naing, a 21-year old anti-coup protester, was shot and killed by Myanmar security forces during a demonstration on Saturday, according to his family. (The Associated Press)

At least 38 people were killed Sunday, the majority in the Hlaing Thar Yar area of Yangon, and 18 were killed on Saturday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. The total includes women and children, according to the figures from the UN human rights office.

UN condemns ‘continuing bloodshed’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns this ongoing violence against peaceful protesters and the continuing violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Myanmar,” Dujarric said.

The UN chief renewed his call on the international community, including regional countries, “to come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier Monday, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener condemned the “continuing bloodshed,” which has frustrated calls from the Security Council and other parties for restraint and dialogue.

“The ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel and destruction of public infrastructure, severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability,” she said.

WATCH | Myanmar’s military tightens its grip on power, targeting politicians and journalists:

Myanmar’s military has tightened its grip on power, further cracking down on protesters and targeting politicians and journalists. 2:07

Complicating efforts to organize new protests — as well as report on the crisis — cellphone internet service has been cut, although access is still available through fixed broadband connections.

Mobile data service had been used to stream live video coverage of protests, often showing security forces attacking demonstrators. It previously had been turned off only from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. local time for several weeks, with no official explanation.

The blockage of internet service forced postponement of a court hearing in the capital, Natpyitaw, for Myanmar’s detained leader Suu Kyi, who was supposed to take part via a video conference, said her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained during the coup, and have been charged with several criminal offences that their supporters say are politically motivated to keep them locked up.

Chinese-owned factories torched

Since the takeover, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency, with military leaders in charge of all government. But Sunday’s announcement was the first use of martial law since the coup and suggested more direct handling of security by the military instead of police.

Sunday’s announcement said the junta, formally called the State Administrative Council, acted to enhance security and restore law and order, and that the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial and military powers in the area under his command. The orders cover six of Yangon’s 33 townships, all of which suffered major violence in recent days.


Members of a volunteer rescue team carry an injured man on a stretcher in Mandalay on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Thirty-four of Sunday’s deaths were in Yangon. At least 22 occurred in Hlaing Thar Yar township, an industrial area with many factories that supply the garment industry, a major export earner for Myanmar. Several of the factories, many of which are Chinese-owned, were set aflame Sunday by unknown perpetrators.

The torching earned protesters a rebuke from the Chinese Embassy, which in turn received an outpouring of scorn on social media for expressing concern about factories but not mentioning the dozens of people killed by Myanmar’s security forces.

Four other deaths were reported in the cities of Bago, Mandalay, and Hpakant, according to the AAPP and local media.

Increased violence

In response to increased police violence, protesters in the past week have begun taking a more aggressive approach to self-defence, burning tires at barricades and pushing back when they can against attacks.

A statement issued Sunday by the Committee Representing Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw, the elected members of Parliament who were not allowed to take their seats, announced that the general public has the legal right to self-defence against the junta’s security forces.


Anti-coup protesters flash the three-fingered salute during a candlelight night rally in Yangon on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

The group, which operates underground inside the country and with representatives abroad, has established itself as a shadow government that claims to be the sole legitimate representative body of Myanmar’s citizens. It has been declared treasonous by the junta.

A small respite from the latest violence came before dawn Monday, when several dozen anti-coup protesters in southern Myanmar held candlelight vigils with calls for the end of the military government and a return to democracy.

In Kyae Nupyin village in Launglone township, villagers read Buddhist texts and prayed for the safety and security of all those risking their lives in the face of the increasingly lethal response of the security forces.

The area around the small city of Dawei has become a hot spot for resistance to the military takeover. On nearby country roads, a long convoy of motorcyclists carried the protest message through villages.

In Dawei itself, demonstrators built barricades out of rocks to hinder police on the main roads. There were marches, both in the morning and the afternoon, to try to keep up the momentum of weeks of resistance to the takeover.

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Dozens killed after quake sets off landslides, topples homes in Indonesia

A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 42 people.

More than 600 people were injured during the magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness. Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas.

There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl stuck in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members also trapped. “Please help me, it hurts,” the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her.

The rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses.


Rescuers assist a survivor pulled out from the ruin of a government building in Mamuju on Friday. (Azhari Surahman/The Associated Press)

The earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside. Rescuers struggled to extract seven patients and staff who were trapped under tons of rubble. After several hours, an excavator came to help and the rescuers eventually retrieved four survivors and three bodies.

Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried.

Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

The quake was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 34 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 26 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.


People react as the body of an earthquake victim is recovered by rescuers in Mamuju on Friday. (Yusuf Wahil/The Associated Press)

The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 others were injured in Mamuju’s neighbouring district of Majene.

It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.

‘We are racing against time’

West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor’s office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped.

Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering the operation to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save 20 people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor’s office, a hospital and hotels.

“We are racing against time to rescue them,” Rahmanjaya said.


Rescuers search for survivors a damaged hospital in Mamuju on Friday. (Firdaus /AFP via Getty Images)

Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull a body of a loved one from a damaged home in devastated Mamuju. It was placed in an orange body bag and taken away for burial.

“Oh my God, why did we have to go through this?” cried Rina, who uses one name. “I can’t save my dear sister … forgive me, sister, forgive us, God!”

President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that he had ordered his social minister and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures and search and rescue operations as quickly as possible.

“I, on behalf of the Government and all Indonesian people, would like to express my deep condolences to families of the victims,” Widodo said.


The National Search and Rescue Agency’s chief, Bagus Puruhito, said rescuers from the cities of Palu, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jakarta were being deployed to help in Mamuju and Majene.

Two ships were heading to the affected areas from Makassar and Balikpapan carrying rescuers and search and rescue equipment, while a Hercules plane carrying supplies was on its way from Jakarta.

Puruhito is already leading more than 4,100 rescue personnel in a separate massive search operation for victims of the crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet into the Java Sea last Saturday.

Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief.

Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur.

Located on ‘Ring of Fire’

Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson.

On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

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West Virginia lawmaker among dozens of people newly charged over Capitol siege

A West Virginia state lawmaker has been charged with entering a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol after he livestreamed himself with rioters, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Ken Kohl, a top deputy federal prosecutor in Washington, announced the charge against Derrick Evans on a call in which he presented dozens of new charges against members of a mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

It wasn’t immediately announced if Evans is in custody. Several other state lawmakers across the country travelled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations this week but it’s unknown if any other elected official joined the mob of Donald Trump supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol.

A growing number of Republicans and Democrats said they want to expel Evans from the legislature if he does not resign. His attorney, John Bryan, said late Thursday that the delegate didn’t commit a crime and doesn’t plan to resign.

Other people who were charged include a man who was photographed in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an Alabama man who had Molotov cocktails and firearms in his truck parked near the U.S. Capitol, Kohl said.

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Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested: reports

About 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy figures were arrested by police on Wednesday under a national security law, following their involvement in an unofficial primary election last year held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature, according to local media reports.

Those arrested included former lawmakers and pro-democracy activists, and the group were arrested on suspicion of subversion under the territory’s national security law, according to reports by local newspaper South China Morning Post and online news platform Now News.

At least seven members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party — the territory’s largest opposition party — were arrested, including former party chairman Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers, including Helena Wong, Lam Cheuk-ting, and James To, were also arrested, according to a post on the party’s Facebook page.

Benny Tai, a key figure in Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former law professor, was also arrested, according to local media reports. Tai was one of the main organizers of the primaries.

The home of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is currently serving a 13½-month prison sentence for organizing and participating in an unauthorized protest last year, was also raided this morning, according to a tweet posted from Wong’s account.


The mass arrests on Wednesday are the largest to date since the national security law was implemented in Hong Kong in June last year. In recent months, Hong Kong has jailed several pro-democracy activists including Wong and Agnes Chow for their involvement in antigovernment protests, and others have been charged under the national security law, including media tycoon and outspoken pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers had last July held an unofficial primary election to figure out which candidates they should field in a now-postponed legislative election that would boost their chances of gaining a majority of seats in legislature. Gaining a majority would allow the pro-democracy camp to vote against what they deemed to be pro-Beijing government policies.

More than 600,000 people in Hong Kong voted in the primaries, although pro-Beijing lawmakers and politicians criticized the event and warned that it could be in breach of the territory’s national security law, which was imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June to quash dissent following months of anti-government protests.

Beijing also blasted the primaries as “illegal,” calling it a “serious provocation” of Hong Kong’s current electoral system.

Following the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British in 1997, the semi-autonomous Chinese territory has operated on a “one country, two systems” framework that affords it freedoms not found on the mainland. In recent years, Beijing has asserted more control, drawing criticism that Hong Kong’s freedoms were under attack.

The legislative elections, originally slated to be held in September, were later postponed for a year after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam claimed that holding elections would be a risk to public health given the coronavirus pandemic. The pro-democracy camp denounced the postponement as unconstitutional.

In November, all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after Beijing passed a resolution that led to the disqualification of four of its camp.

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Dozens of airline passengers in Canada hit with fines, warning letters for refusing to wear a mask

Dozens of passengers on Canadian airlines have been slapped with fines or warning letters by Transport Canada in recent months for refusing to wear a mask on board a flight, with more incidents involving Alberta airports than any other province.

A review of Transport Canada data by CBC News reveals that WestJet passengers have been the hardest hit — with 50 of the 72 incidents, or nearly 70 per cent, involving passengers on the Calgary-based airline.

WestJet passengers were issued eight of the nine fines, known as administrative monetary penalties, meted out since June. The ninth fine was to a passenger who flew from Vancouver to Whitehorse on Air North in August.

Transport Canada has issued 12 warning letters to passengers on Air Canada flights, two to Jazz passengers and two to people on Air Transat flights, while Air North, Calm Air, Flair, KLM and Swoop each had one passenger who received a warning letter.

While Transport Canada provided information in September on the amounts of the first two fines levied — one in June for $ 1,000 and another in July for the same amount — it would only provide ranges for the amounts of most of the fines.


WestJet employees wear masks at the Calgary International Airport in October. According to Transport Canada data, the airline’s passengers have been involved in 50 of the 72 incidents where fines or warning letters have been issued for refusing to wear a mask on a plane. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Overall, two people were fined between $ 100 and $ 500, five received fines ranging from $ 501 to $ 1,000, one passenger was handed a fine that ranged from $ 1,001 to $ 1,500 and another was hit with a fine of between $ 1,501 and $ 2,000.

Another 63 passengers have received warning letters. While the warning letters don’t lead directly to fines, Transport Canada spokesperson Sau Sau Liu said they can result in higher fines for a second offence.

“Based on Transport Canada’s graduated approach to enforcement action, when warranted by the results of an investigation where mitigating factors are taken into consideration, a first offence may result in a letter of warning,” she said.

“The letter serves as a reminder of the consequences the offender may face should the infraction be committed again in the future. Should a second or subsequent violation occur for the same offence/violation, Transport Canada’s process would trigger an enhanced level of enforcement action, which could result in a penalty of up to $ 5,000.”

But if there is evidence of “aggravating factors, such as blatant and repeated refusals to comply,” combined with such things as disrespectful or abusive language, physical or verbal threats, a first offence can result in a fine and even criminal charges, Liu said.

WestJet has ‘zero-tolerance’ mask policy

While Alberta has 11.5 per cent of Canada’s population, 36.8 per cent of the incidents occurred on flights to or from an Alberta airport. Calgary’s airport — which is a WestJet hub and is Canada’s fourth largest — was involved in 37 incidents, while Edmonton’s airport was involved in 14.

In Ontario, which has 38.2 per cent of the country’s residents, incidents on flights to or from the province’s airports made up for 23.6 per cent of the total. According to the data, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, which has more traffic than any other Canadian airport, was the departure or arrival point in 30 incidents.


Passengers wait to board flights at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Monday. In Ontario, which has 38.2 per cent of the country’s residents, incidents involving a failure to wear a mask on flights to or from the province’s airports made up 23.6 per cent of the total fines and warning letters. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

British Columbia was involved in 19.4 per cent of incidents. While 18 incidents involved flights going to or from Vancouver International Airport, there were also incidents involving flights that visited Kelowna (4), Kamloops (1), Abbotsford (3), Comox (1) and Terrace (1). 

Only five incidents involved passengers flying to Canada from international airports — two from London’s Gatwick Airport, two from Paris and one from Israel.

WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said the airline adopted a zero-tolerance policy on mask-wearing in September.

“Our approach is zero-tolerance, as Canadian travellers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe,” she said, pointing out that WestJet has flown more than 28,000 flights and more than a million passengers since the pandemic began.

“Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.”

Bell said WestJet has issued 34 red cards to passengers who refused to wear masks on board — barring them from flights on WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop for a year. Another 121 passengers received yellow warning cards.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline has complied with reporting obligations and worked with Transport Canada during its investigations.

Air Canada was one of the first airlines to require face coverings and recently strengthened its policy to improve the safety of passengers and crew members, he said.

“For customers eligible for a face-covering exemption, as of Dec. 15, 2020, they will also need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours from departure, at the airport check-in and/or prior to boarding the flight,” he wrote in an email.

“They may need another negative COVID-19 test for their return journey if the departure of their return trip exceeds 72 hours from the time the initial test was taken.”


Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says he hears from his members almost daily about incidents involving passengers who don’t want to wear face masks. (Zoom/CBC)

Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said he hears from his members almost every day about cases where a passenger didn’t want to wear a mask.

“It’s a health and safety concern to all, but it’s their work environment, and they need to be safe when they’re in their work environment. And if they feel unsafe because somebody doesn’t have a mask, they’re not required to put themselves in that particular situation.”

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At least 2 killed, dozens of homes destroyed after powerful Cyclone Yasa slams Fiji

A powerful cyclone hit Fiji overnight, killing at least two people and destroying dozens of homes in the Pacific island nation, authorities said Friday.

While Cyclone Yasa proved terrifying for those in its path, there was a sense of relief in other parts of the country that the devastation wasn’t as widespread as many had initially feared.

Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, told reporters the cyclone hit with wind gusts of up to 345 km/h.

“We will continue to assess the scale of damage in the coming days,” she said. “But we are likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Soko said they would provide more details on those who had died later.


Fiji National Disaster Management Office Director Vasiti Soko, left, speaks at a news conference in Suva on Wednesday. (Lice Movono/AFP via Getty Images)

FBC News reported one of those who died was 46-year-old farmer Ramesh Chand, who was sheltering from the cyclone in his home in the town of Lovelove on the island of Vanua Levu when part of his house fell on him, also injuring his eldest son.

The man’s wife, who wasn’t named, told FBC she grabbed her younger son and ran to a nearby home to seek help: “We called my husband. Wake up! Wake up! But he didn’t wake up.”

The storm destroyed many other homes on the island, which is Fiji’s second largest.

The eye of the storm moved through Vanua Levu from about 6 p.m. local time on Thursday. It missed the capital city Suva and the major tourist hub of Nadi on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu.

“It’s a nightmare,” Labasa resident Banuve Lasaqa Lusi told Radio New Zealand. “The thunderous sound of the wind and what is flying around is what’s frightening.”


A fallen electric pole is seen in in Savusavu, Fiji, on Friday. (Fiji Roads Authority via Reuters)

She said many people’s houses had been flattened, with some sheltering under their beds or escaping with just the clothes on their backs.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening Friday as it moved southeast over some of Fiji’s outer islands.

However, they warned of danger from flooding. Fiji’s government said that the Rewa River was rising, with rain continuing intermittently. The Rewa skirts Suva and runs through Nausori, where Suva’s airport is located.


A flooded road crossing is seen in Savusavu on Thursday. (Fiji Roads Authority/via Reuters)

Many had worried the storm could rival the destruction caused by Cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and caused widespread damage when it hit in 2016.

The Fiji Times newspaper reported the cyclone had destroyed about 20 homes and a community hall in the village of Tiliva and that homes in other villages had also been damaged or destroyed.

Authorities had warned the cyclone would hit with sustained winds of up to 250 km/h. But by Friday, the cyclone’s winds had dropped to about half that speed.


The storm prompted more than 20,000 people to move into government evacuation centres. It also downed power lines, cut communications, and caused flash flooding and road closures.

Before the cyclone hit, authorities had imposed an overnight curfew throughout the nation and declared a state of natural disaster.

Located about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii, Fiji has a population of about 930,000.

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Dozens arrested as Belarus police break up street protests

Police in Belarus on Sunday arrested dozens of people in Minsk demonstrating against Alexander Lukashenko, leader of the former Soviet country, a witness said and several media outlets reported.

The witness said police used rubber bullets against the protesters. Interfax news agency said police had used tear gas to disperse the crowd near the Pushkinskaya metro station.

Mobile internet has been also down across the city, according to the witness.

Belarus is in a political crisis as tens of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets each week since an election in August, calling for Lukashenko to resign after 26 years in power. Lukashenko has rejected opposition accusations that the election was rigged in his favour.

Thousands of people have been arrested and rights groups say hundreds of detainees have reported being subjected to beatings and other abuse.

The street rallies were re-ignited following a death of a 31-year old anti-government protester Roman Bondarenko, who died in hospital on Thursday following what demonstrators said was a severe beating by security forces.

The interior ministry denied responsibility for Bondarenko’s death, saying he had been killed in a scuffle with civilians.

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Dozens killed in suicide bombing at Afghan education centre

A suicide bombing at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed 24 people including teenage students and wounded dozens more on Saturday, officials said.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman, Tariq Arian, said security guards had identified a bomber who detonated explosives in the street outside the Kawsar-e Danish centre.

Most of the victims were students aged between 15 and 26, according to the health ministry. Fifty-seven were injured in the attack, the interior ministry said.

A Taliban spokesman on Twitter denied responsibility for the attack, which came at a sensitive time as teams representing the insurgents and the government meet in Qatar to seek a peace deal.

Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement on Telegram, without providing evidence.

Family members gathered at a nearby hospital, searching for missing loved ones among bags containing the remains of those killed, laid out on the hospital floor, while outside orderlies wheeled injured patients on stretchers for treatment, a Reuters witness said.

‘How much more can we endure?’

The attack, which was condemned by NATO and the Afghan government, took place in an area of west Kabul that is home to many from the country’s Shia community, a religious minority in Afghanistan targeted in the past by groups such as Islamic State.

Dozens of students died in the same area of Kabul in an attack on another education centre in 2018.


Relatives carry the coffin of a victim who was killed after a roadside bomb tore through a minivan full of civilians in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

A teacher at the Kawsar-e Danish centre, who asked not to be named due to security concerns, said he and other teaching staff were in shock at the targeting of the institution which had provided tutoring to give thousands of children a pathway to higher education.

“All the students were full of energy, belonging to poor families but hoping for a brighter future,” he said.

The latest attack came on the back of heavy fighting in multiple provinces in recent weeks, which has displaced thousands of civilians.

The U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad early on Sunday on Twitter called again for an immediate reduction in violence and an acceleration in the peace process, citing rising violence in the country in recent weeks including a finding by the human rights commission that an Afghan government airstrike had killed 12 children.

“How much more can we endure, as individuals and as society? How many times can we rise?” asked Shaharzad Akbar, chair of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s attack, saying the targeting of civilians was a war crime.

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Nigeria says dozens dead in unrest over police brutality

At least 51 civilians have been killed in Nigeria’s unrest following days of peaceful protests over police abuses, the president said Friday, blaming “hooliganism” for the violence while asserting that security forces have used “extreme restraint.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments in a statement released late Friday are expected to further inflame tensions after Amnesty International reported that soldiers shot and killed at least 12 demonstrators Tuesday night as a large crowd sang the national anthem.

The deaths sparked international condemnation.

In a statement, Buhari also said 11 police officers and seven soldiers had been killed by “rioters” as of Thursday, and “the mayhem has not stopped.” He said another 37 civilians were injured in some of Nigeria’s worst turmoil in years.

The president said the well-intentioned protests were hijacked by thugs.


People raise their their hands over their heads as they pass security checkpoints, held by security forces wearing civil clothes and holding machetes and sticks to control the crowd, in Lagos on Friday. (Sophie Bouillon/AFP via Getty Images)

But many Nigerians are upset by what the president hasn’t said. Buhari in a national address Thursday night didn’t mention the shootings, instead warning protesters against “undermining national security and law and order.” On Friday he said the government “will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism.”

Resentment lingered with the smell of charred tires Friday in Nigeria’s relatively calm streets. Soldiers remained in parts of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, as a 24-hour curfew remained in place.

A witness of Tuesday night’s shooting, 33-year-old Isaiah Abor, ventured out anyway to visit the scene where solders had opened fire. He managed to escape the chaos.

“When [the soldiers] were making comments that the flag is not bulletproof, that’s when I knew this was going to go out of hand,” Abor said. Empty ammunition shells still littered the ground.

The president’s speech annoyed him. “The blood that stained a whole Nigerian flag, those youths were not even mentioned,” Abor said. He added: “We are not cowards. We will always come to this ground, and we will always feel for those that are gone.”


Military personnel drive along a street in Lagos on Friday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Another protester, Olatunde Joshua Oluwanifemi, said simply: “The speech killed our spirit.”

The president’s comments, “devoid of sympathy,” were worrying, said Okechukwu Nwanguma with the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center. Shielding those behind the shootings will only lead to abuses by the police and military, he said: “If those who carried out the killings did so and nothing happens, it will encourage them and others to do the same thing next time.”

But citing the president’s comments, one influential group behind the protests, the Feminist Coalition, urged youth to stay at home, saying that “we need to stay alive to pursue our dreams to build the future.”

Others disagreed. If the protests have been hijacked, then Nigerian youth should not give up the struggle and instead should “go back and re-strategize,” said Seriki Muritala with the National Youth Parliament.

Police unit disbanded

The protests turned violent Wednesday after the military’s shooting as mobs vandalized and burnt police stations, courthouses, TV stations and a hotel. Police battled angry crowds with tear gas and gunfire. The looting and gunfire continued Thursday.

The demonstrations began early this month with calls for Nigeria’s government to shut down the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police unit known as SARS. The squad was launched to fight crime, but it carried out torture and killings, according to Amnesty International.

The #EndSARS campaign spread across the country and Buhari’s government announced that it would disband the SARS unit. The protest persisted with demonstrators calling for more widespread reforms of the police and an end to corruption.


People drive past burnt toll gates with anti police slogans sprayed across in Lagos on Friday. (Sunday Alamba/The Associated Press)

In one attempt at calming tensions, the Lagos state government on Friday shared a list of ongoing prosecution against police officers accused of human rights abuses.

“Today seems like a good day to get on to the work of rebuilding Lagos and ending police brutality,” Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said.

But an angry crowd shouted at him over the unrest as officials toured burned-out vehicles and the sacked palace of a Lagos ceremonial leader. The leader, or oba, isn’t popular with some Nigerians who see him as a product of the country’s often corrupt politics.


Burnt vehicles are seen near in Lagos on Friday. (Sunday Alamba/The Associated Press)

Opulence and grinding poverty are in close contact in Lagos, a city of some 20 million, and the inequality sharpens Nigerians’ grievances.

After touring the battered city, the governor told reporters he was “very traumatized” and that “we lost people in several parts of the city.” He didn’t give details.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “We need to heal ourselves.” He said the curfew would begin easing Saturday morning and a panel looking into the unrest would begin receiving petitions on Monday.

And yet nerves were frayed. Near the scene of Tuesday’s shooting, police shouted, then fired into the air, to stop a convoy carrying the body of a Muslim who had died overnight; the cause of death was not clear.

After questioning by police, the mourners were allowed to continue, to go on and bury the dead.

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Police crack down on protesters, detain dozens in Belarus during demonstrations against leader

Security forces in Belarus detained dozens of protesters on Sunday and used force, including water cannon and batons, to break up crowds demanding a new presidential election, TV footage showed.

Footage published by local news outlets showed police officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into unmarked black vans and beating them with their batons at a rally that drew thousands onto the streets of Minsk, the capital.

One sequence showed a police van unleashing a powerful jet of water from a cannon into crowds, visibly pushing them back.

Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, has been rocked by street protests and strikes since authorities announced that veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko had won an Aug. 9 vote by a landslide.

People have since taken to the streets every week to demand that Lukashenko step down and allow for a new election to be held.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne condemned the crackdown.

“Violence is never the answer to the legitimate wishes of the people for democracy & freedom,” Champagne said in a tweet, adding he will be discussing the ongoing situation in Belarus with “key partners” during his upcoming trip to Europe.


Lukashenko, a former collective farm manager who has been in power since 1994, denies his win was the result of cheating.

Security forces have detained more than 13,000 people during a post-election crackdown, some of whom have been later freed.

Lukashenko’s key political opponents are either in jail or have fled abroad.


Law enforcement in riot gear are seen in Minsk on Sunday. (Reuters)

Sunday’s violence followed a meeting Lukashenko held on Saturday in a Minsk jail with detained opposition leaders, an unusual event that prompted some opposition activists to believe he was preparing to make concessions.

In a rare concession, two people who had taken part in the meeting with Lukashenko — businessman Yuri Voskresensky and Dmitry Rabtsevich, director of the Minsk office of PandaDoc software maker — were released late on Sunday, Belarus state television reported.

The United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions against a string of senior officials in Belarus accused of fraud and human rights abuses in the wake of the presidential election.


Demonstrators react as a stun grenade explodes in Minsk on Sunday.. (BelaPAN via Reuters)

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is now based in Lithuania, has called for new elections and for all political prisoners to be freed.

“We will continue to march peacefully and persistently and demand what is ours: new free and transparent elections,” Tikhanovskaya wrote on her Telegram channel on Sunday.

Similar rallies were held in other cities across the country on Sunday.

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