At Least 138 Killed In Deadliest Burkina Faso Attacks Since 2015

In this file photograph taken on November 11, 2019, an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) of the French Army patrols a rural area during the Bourgou IV operation in northern Burkina Faso along the border with Mali and Niger. AFP

 

Suspected jihadists have massacred at least 138 civilians in Burkina Faso’s volatile north in the deadliest attacks since Islamist violence erupted in the West African country in 2015, officials said Saturday.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore denounced an attack near the borders with Mali and Niger, where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been targeting civilians and soldiers.

“Several injured have succumbed to their wounds and new bodies have been discovered. The still provisional toll is 138 deaths,” one local official said Saturday evening.

“The bodies were buried in mass graves,” the official said, adding that “there are dozens of injured” after the overnight attack by armed assailants.

“We must remain united and solid against these obscurantist forces,” Kabore said, condemning the massacre in the village of Solhan as “barbaric” and “despicable.”

Declaring three days of national mourning, ending Monday night at 11:59 pm, the government stated that “terrorists,” a term for jihadists, killed civilians of all ages and set fire to homes and the main market.

A security source lamented “the heavy human toll, the worst recorded to date,” while warning it could still increase.

Meanwhile, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman said that he was “outraged” over the massacre.

Guterres “strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to the Member States in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, offering Burkinabe authorities the UN’s “full support”.

The assailants struck around 2:00 am (0200 GMT) against a position of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP), an anti-jihadist civilian defence force that backs the national army, before attacking homes and carrying out “executions,” a local source said.

Opposition leader Eddie Komboigo demanded that “the massacre of our people, we never tire of repeating, must stop unconditionally. Every measure must be taken to protect the Burkinabe” people.

The VDP was set up in December 2019 to help Burkina’s poorly-equipped military fight jihadists but it has suffered more than 200 fatalities, according to an AFP tally.

The volunteers are given two weeks’ military training before working alongside the security forces, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

‘Neutralise these terrorists’

The government said that “the defence and security forces are at work to neutralise these terrorists and restore calm to populated areas.”

A security forces official said that men were deployed to secure populated areas and to remove and bury bodies.

Solhan, a small community around 15 kilometres from Sebba, the main city in Yagha province, has suffered numerous attacks in recent years.

On May 14, Defence Minister Cheriff Sy and military top brass visited Sebba to assure people that life had returned to normal, following a number of military operations.

The massive attack by suspected jihadists came hours after another attack Friday evening on Tadaryat village in the same region in which 14 people were killed, including an armed volunteer who had come to help them.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has struggled to fight back against increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks from groups including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS).

The attacks first started in the north near the Mali border, but have since spread to other regions, particularly in the east.

Around 1,400 people have died and more than a million have fled their homes.

AFP

At Least 50 Dead In Two Attacks In Eastern DR Congo

In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020, An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Alexis Huguet / AFP

 

 

At least 50 people were killed overnight in two new attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s deeply troubled east, monitors said Monday.

A local official blamed the notorious ADF militia, which has been linked to the Islamic State group, but others said the attacks may have been ethnic in origin.

Citing a provisional toll, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said 28 people had been killed in Boga and 22 in Tchabi, villages lying about 10 kilometres (six miles) apart in an area known for Allied Democratic Forces attacks and community friction.

The respected monitor said this was the highest death toll it had recorded in a single day since it was founded in 2017. It had earlier given a tally for the attacks of 39 dead.

One community leader said children and the elderly were among the victims.

The DRC army gave a slightly higher provisional toll of 53 after a meeting of security forces in Bunia, the capital of Ituri province where the attacks took place. Local MP Gracien Iracan spoke of 60 dead.

“Seven trucks arrived to remove the victims — it’s a dramatic situation,” Iracan told AFP.

“They’re still finding bodies, so the toll is likely to grow,” he added, while “many wounded people are still hiding in the bush, everyone fled there”.

A UN source told AFP that South African blue helmets from the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission’s small base in Tchabi had exchanged fire with the attackers when they tried to intervene.

A local civil society leader attributed the attacks to the ADF, a historically Ugandan Islamist group blamed for a string of massacres in the past 18 months.

The two villages lie on the border between North Kivu and Ituri provinces in an area where the ADF is believed to be active.

In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020, An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). (Photo by Alexis Huguet / AFP)

‘Targeted’ assault

Lawmaker Iracan said that “a very large number of attackers showed up. The assault was well targeted, they killed two local leaders. We can’t rule out that they were settling scores,” he added.

The KST said the wife of a traditional leader in Benyali-Tchabi had been killed in the attack on Tchabi.

Two local officials reached in Boga by AFP said the assailants had attacked a camp for displaced people.

They said 36 bodies had been found so far in Boga, a figure that has yet to be independently confirmed.

Those same officials also cautioned against immediately blaming the ADF, given the ethnic conflicts in the region.

Suspicions that the violence was ethnically motivated stem from the fact that the displaced people’s camp in Boga mostly hosted displaced people from the Nyali group — but a nearby site housing Banyabwisha people was spared.

“We think it was the same group” behind the attacks on both villages, the head of the Nyali community in Tchabi told AFP by phone.

“They attacked around 1:00 am. There are children and the very old among the dead… at the moment we’re preparing to bury them,” he added.

Military government

The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.

As of Friday, the KST estimated that at least 1,228 civilians have been killed in the Beni territory of North Kivu alone since November 2019, when DRC forces launched a crackdown that splintered the ADF into smaller groups.

Three other attacks since last Tuesday, blamed on the ADF, have claimed 39 lives.

On March 11, the United States said the ADF was linked to IS, which is also known by the acronym ISIS. The ADF was called ISIS-DRC, or Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on May 6 proclaimed a 30-day “state of siege” in North Kivu and Ituri in a bid to curb bloodshed by the ADF.

Under the move, military and police officers have taken over from civilian authorities.

AFP

Mali Constitutional Court Declares Colonel Goita Transitional President

FILES) In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). MALIK KONATE / AFP

 

Mali’s constitutional court on Friday named Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of the post-coup junta, as the country’s transitional president.

The judgement stipulated that Goita would “exercise the functions of transitional president to lead the transition process to its conclusion”, following his seizure of power this week.

The constitutional court said it had made the decision due to the “vacancy in the presidency” following the resignation of caretaker president Bah Ndaw.

Soldiers detained Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane on Monday, before releasing them Thursday after they resigned.

Ndaw and Ouane had led a transitional government tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August that toppled Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Keita was forced out by young army officers, led by Goita, following mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Goita had originally been named vice president with other key posts given to fellow army officers.

Earlier Friday, Goita explained that the army had had little choice but to intervene.

“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defence and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.

AFP

Nineteen Civilians Killed In New West Niger Attack

A google map of the Republic of Niger, a country in West Africa.

 

 

Nineteen civilians were killed when armed men raided a village in west Niger close to the border with Mali, a local official told AFP on Sunday, in the latest bloodshed in the troubled region.

“For the moment, the number of dead stands at 19 and two people have been wounded in an attack by armed men on motorbikes in the village of Gaigorou” in the Tillaberi region on Saturday evening, said the municipal official from Dessa.

An unknown number of unidentified assailants, known locally as bandits, initially attacked people attending a funeral at a cemetery, before going on to the village where they “shot at everyone they saw,” the official said.

READ ALSO: Family Of Eight Killed In Afghanistan Mosque Shooting

The Tillaberi region is situated on the lawless “three-border” zone where the frontiers of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge and has regularly been the target of jihadist groups affiliated to the Islamic State group.

“What concerns us a lot is this escalation of violence and insecurity that is recently taking place in the region,” Tillaberi governor Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella said in March, pointing to the increased imposition of Islamic taxes by militants, theft of livestock, and violence against civilians.

Thirteen people were killed last month when armed men on motorbikes raided the villages of Zibane-Koira Zeno, Zibane Koira-Tegui and Gadabo.

Attacks against civilians have increased since the beginning of the year — more than 300 people died in three series of attacks in the western Niger. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

AFP

10 Confirmed Killed In Boko Haram’s Latest Attack On Damasak

 

Ten civilians have been confirmed killed in Tuesday night’s attack on Damasak, the headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government of Borno State.

This is according to the Chairman of the local government, Mustapha Bako Kolo.

An unspecified number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were also injured during the attack, according to Kolo.

Although sources say fighters of the Islamic State West Africa Province met stiff resistance from the Nigerian Army who were supported by the Airforce, the encounter left many civilians injured.

According to sources, the terror group stormed the area in over a dozen gun trucks and could be seen heading towards the Army base in Damasak, as residents were forced to flee for safety.

Last night’s attack on Damasak is the second within the week.

The insurgents had shared a video of their weekend attack on Damasak town during which they burnt UN buildings and food storehouses.

As of the time of filing this report, an official statement from the military was yet to be released.

READ ALSO: Damasak Attack: Civilians, Aid Workers Should Not Be Targets For Terrorists – UN

Nigeria’s military has struggled to end a jihadist insurgency in the northeast for more than a decade, with two million people displaced from the homes by fighting.

The latest attack prompted residents to flee towards the border.

“The locals are currently relocating to Niger Republic due to state of insecurity in the town,” said the military officer, who asked not to be identified.

Many residents had fled the town towards the regional capital Maiduguri or into the town of Diffa across the Niger border following three previous attacks, but other residents decided to stay back.

On Wednesday, residents who remained left the town across the border when militants in several trucks fitted with machine guns engaged troops in a fight outside the military base in an attempt to overrun it.

“This is the situation we found ourselves again, as you can see now we are going to take refuge in another country that is not even our own,” a resident said in a video clip sent to AFP by sources.

In the recording, hundreds of residents are seen on foot and on donkeys moving along a winding bush path with personal effects.

Jihadist warning

The fleeing residents wanted to seek refuge in nearby Gamari village across the border but were told that the jihadists had warned the villagers not to host anyone from Damasak.

“The insurgents went to Gamari last night (Tuesday) and gathered the people and warned them not to accept any humanitarian aid from NGOs and not to accommodate anyone from Damasak,” said another Damasak resident.

“The only option left to us is to go to Diffa where most of our kinsmen fled to in the past two days,” the resident said.

Meanwhile, fighting between the jihadists and troops was continuing around the base, said the resident and the military officer.

The insurgents had attacked the town on Saturday and Tuesday, causing the destruction of humanitarian facilities and at least four deaths, including a soldier.

Late on Tuesday, the jihadists stormed Damasak, burning a divisional police station after a failed attempt to raid the base, residents and military sources said.

Damasak has repeatedly been targeted by ISWAP militants who have made several failed attempts to overrun a military outpost outside the town.

ISWAP, which split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at fake checkpoints.

Nigeria’s 12-year-old jihadist conflict has killed 36,000 people and forced around two million more to flee their homes to escape fighting.

Five Civilian Volunteers, One Soldier Killed In Burkina Faso Ambush

 

 

Six people including civilians were killed when a military detachment was ambushed in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said Sunday.

The nation, among the world’s poorest, is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“A unit from Gaskinde (Soum province) was ambushed on Saturday. One (soldier) sadly lost his life, and another was injured. On our side, there were five other casualties, all volunteers,” a security source told AFP.

The five civilians were part of Volunteers for the Defence of the Nation (VDP), a network of civilian volunteers who help the army in their uphill battle against the various jihadist groups operating in the country.

“The Kourao VDP were patrolling the area and were targeted by armed individuals. A unit went to their aid and came under heavy fire,” said another security source, confirming the death of one soldier.

The source said “the enemy side” had also suffered casualties in the ensuing exchange of fire, without giving more details.

The jihadist insurgency began in neighbouring Mali in 2012 and spread into its territory in 2015, killing more than 1,200 people and displacing roughly one million.

Last week six people, including a pregnant woman and a young girl, were killed in a roadside bomb, also in the country’s north.

The poorly equipped and disorganised army is flailing, and the creation of the VDP was an attempt to bolster efforts against the insurgency.

Members receive 14 days of training and are then sent out on patrols and surveillance missions, equipped with light arms.

More than 100 have been killed in combat since January 2020.

Over 1,000 troops from Chad — pledged in a recent Sahel summit — are expected to arrive in days to help strengthen security in what is known as the three-border zone, where the frontiers of Burkina, Mali, and Niger converge.

AFP

Five Killed Following Boy’s Death In Senegal

A Senegalese Gendarme patrols and clears the streets of Dakar after supporters of Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko gathered and violent protests broke out in the capital, on March 3, 2021.

 

A schoolboy was killed during a protest in southern Senegal at the weekend, officials said as several days of unrest in the West African state take the toll to five dead.

A security official told AFP people were demonstrating Saturday in the southern town of Diaobe against Wednesday’s arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, when the “situation quickly deteriorated”.

A schoolboy was killed and six people were seriously injured in clashes, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Protesters also torched a gendarmerie station, a customs post, and several cars, the security official said.

A spokesman for Senegal’s gendarmerie, who also declined to be named, confirmed that a boy had been killed and six people injured.

Supporters of Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko run down the road after word that their leader was arrested made its rounds in Dakar, on March 3, 2021. PHOTO: JOHN WESSELS / AFP

The incident raises the official death toll in Senegal’s recent unrest — the worst the country has seen in years — to five.

Clashes between opposition supporters and security forces began on Wednesday after Sonko, 46, was arrested on charges of disturbing public order in the capital Dakar.

Police arrested him after scuffles with opposition supporters broke out while Sonko was on his way to court to answer to a separate rape charge — which he says is politically motivated.

The event sparked violent clashes nationwide which continued through Friday before easing off.

However, an opposition collective which includes Sonko’s Pastef party on Saturday called for three more days of protests starting from Monday.

Sonko, who is considered a challenger to President Macky Sall, is also due back in court on Monday to answer to the rape charge.

The rape allegation against him comes amid uncertainty over whether Sall, 59, will seek a third term.

Senegalese presidents are limited to two consecutive terms, but Sall launched a constitutional review in 2016, raising suspicions he intends to run again.

Senegal, a former French colony of 16 million people, is often heralded as a beacon of stability in a volatile region.

Eritrean Troops Killed ‘Hundreds’ In Ethiopia Massacre, Says Amnesty

Eritrean Army reinforcements head 17 May 2000 toward Akurdet, 60 kms from the western city of Barentu, some 180 kms from the capital Asmara, which is under heavy attack from Ethiopian forces that are now deep inside Eritrea. Eritrea has been embroiled in a bitter 24 month border war with neighbouring Ethiopia. The latest fighting started 12 May 2000. Ethiopia said late 17 May 2000 that its forces had captured Das in Eritrea during heavy fighting.
Eritrean Army reinforcements head 17 May 2000 toward Akurdet, 60 kms from the western city of Barentu, some 180 kms from the capital Asmara. AFP

 

Eritrean soldiers fighting across the border in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region killed hundreds of people in a massacre last year in a likely crime against humanity, Amnesty International said Friday.

The rights watchdog spoke to survivors of the atrocities and used satellite images to piece together the bloody events of last November in the ancient town of Axum in a new report.

“The evidence is compelling and points to a chilling conclusion. Ethiopian and Eritrean troops carried out multiple war crimes in their offensive to take control of Axum,” said Deprose Muchena of Amnesty International.

“Above and beyond that, Eritrean troops went on a rampage and systematically killed hundreds of civilians in cold blood, which appears to constitute crimes against humanity.

“This atrocity ranks among the worst documented so far in this conflict.”

Tigray has been the theatre of fighting since early November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced military operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accusing them of attacking federal army camps.

He declared victory after pro-government troops took the regional capital Mekele in late November, though the TPLF vowed to fight on, and clashes have persisted in the region.

Tigray has been without internet and difficult to access since the start of the conflict, making claims and counter-claims of violence hard to confirm.

The presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia is widely documented but has been denied by Addis Ababa and Asmara.

Eritrea fought a brutal border war with Ethiopia in 1998-2000, back when the TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s governing coalition.

Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 in large part for initiating a rapprochement with Eritrea, whose President Isaias Afwerki and the TPLF remain bitter enemies.

‘Killing randomly’

Amnesty said it had spoken to 41 survivors and witnesses of the violence who said that on November 19, 2020, Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces took control of Axum “in a large-scale offensive, killing and displacing civilians with indiscriminate shelling and shooting.”

“In the nine days that followed, the Eritrean military engaged in widespread looting of civilian property and extrajudicial executions.”

Witnesses said the Eritrean forces were easily identifiable, via their vehicles, language and unique ritual facial scars, while they also openly declared themselves as such.

The worst violence unfolded after a small group of pro-TPLF militiamen attacked the soldiers’ base on 28 November and they retaliated, leaving the town strewn with bodies.

“The Eritrean soldiers came into the city and started killing randomly,” said a 22-year-old man who had wanted to bring food to the militia, who he described as young and barely knowing how to fight.

Residents told Amnesty that many victims in Axum carried no weapons and were running away from the soldiers when they were shot.

“I saw a lot of people dead on the street. Even my uncle’s family. Six of his family members were killed. So many people were killed,” said a 21-year-old male resident.

The next day the soldiers allegedly shot at those trying to move the bodies, while carrying out house-to-house raids.

One man told Amnesty he saw soldiers line up six men and shoot them from behind in the street outside his house.

Hundreds buried

The organisation said it had collected the names of more than 240 of the victims, but could not independently verify the overall death toll. However, corroborating testimonies and evidence made it plausible that hundreds had died.

“Residents estimate that several hundred people were buried in the aftermath of the massacre, and they attended funerals at several churches where scores were buried,” said the report.

Satellite imagery showed signs of mass burials near two of the town’s churches.

“As a matter of urgency, there must be a UN-led investigation into the grave violations in Axum. Those suspected of responsibility for war crimes or crimes against humanity must be prosecuted in fair trials and victims and their families must receive full reparation,” said Muchena.

“We repeat our call on the Ethiopian government to grant full and unimpeded access across Tigray for humanitarian, human rights, and media organisations.”

AFP

Al-Shabaab Attack Hotel In Mogadishu

 

 

Gunmen are attacking a hotel in central Mogadishu following a car bombing at the entrance, according to witnesses and Somali police, with the Al-Shabaab jihadist group claiming responsibility.

Somali soldiers surrounded the Hotel Afrik and blocked off access to it, an AFP journalist reported.

The hotel is near the road leading to Mogadishu’s airport, frequented by officials, members of the security forces, and community leaders.

“There is ongoing (an) attack on a hotel… A car bomb hit the front entrance and armed men stormed the building,” police officer Mohamed Adan told AFP.

“There is an exchange of gunfire and the security forces are trying to rescue people inside from the attackers,” he added.

Witnesses confirmed a massive explosion followed by smoke after a car struck the hotel entrance at great speed, followed by gunfire.

“The gunfire is still going on and there was another blast after the first big one,” said Osman Saadaq, a witness.

Another witness, Muhubo Said, said “casualties could be possibly high”.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement, saying: “The mujahidin stormed in an ongoing operation inside Hotel Afrik where members of the apostate team are stationed.”

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has been waging a violent insurgency across Somalia seeking to unseat the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.

AFP

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Says Trump Ban Sets ‘Dangerous’ Precedent

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

 

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey on Wednesday backed the messaging platform’s ban of US President Donald Trump but said it sets a “dangerous” precedent and represents a failure to promote healthy conversation on social networks.

“Having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey said in a string of tweets about his take on the company’s decision late last week to permanently bar the president.

“While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said, inviting feedback from users.

Trump’s access to social media platforms that he used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington last week.

In addition to Twitter, bans have also been put in place by Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Snapchat, while YouTube temporarily suspended his channel.

However, Twitter was the Republican billionaire’s go-to tool, which he used to directly communicate on a daily basis with some 88 million followers, posting everything from proclamations to accusations and spreading misinformation via the platform.

Social media operators say the embittered leader could have used his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

On Monday, Twitter took things one step further, announcing it had also suspended “more than 70,000 accounts” linked to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that claims Trump is waging a secret war against a global liberal cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Overdue or overdone?

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Trump is considered overdue by critics who argue he has gotten away with abuses but has worried free-speech advocates and drawn criticism from various NGOs and leaders.

The company said in a blog post explaining its decision that after close review of the president’s recent tweets it had “permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter also blocked efforts by Trump to sidestep the ban of his @realDonaldTrump account when he posted tweets from the official presidential account @POTUS and the @TeamTrump campaign account.

“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now,” ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said at the time.

“But, it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions.”

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, stating Monday through her spokesman that she believed freedom of opinion should not be determined by “the management of social media platforms.”

Dorsey said Wednesday that while he believes Twitter made the right decision to ban Trump, it “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he said.

Dorsey rejected the notion that social media giants coordinated efforts, reasoning that it was more likely they each came to the same conclusion about the potential for violence.

Snipped by Snapchat

Image-centric social network Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest platform to permanently ban Trump.

“Last week we announced an indefinite suspension of president Trump’s Snapchat account,” the platform told AFP.

“In the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence, which are clear violations of our guidelines, we have made the decision to permanently terminate his account.”

The actions by social media companies angered ardent defenders of Trump, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday for inciting “insurrection.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a longtime Trump ally, demanded that major tech platforms explain why Trump is no longer welcome.

Removal of the president and others by multiple platforms, he said, “silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies.”

AFP

Olympic Swimming Medalist Keller Charged Over Capitol Riot

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2008 US swimmer Klete Keller smiles after winning the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay swimming heat at the National Aquatics Center in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. GREG WOOD / AFP

 

 

US Olympic swimming gold medalist Klete Keller was charged by the Justice Department Wednesday with participating in the January 6 attack on Congress by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Keller was filmed as part of the crowd that illegally entered the huge Rotunda hall of the Capitol after violent protesters broke through police lines and forced their way in.

A statement accompanying formal charges unveiled Wednesday said police identified the three-time Olympian first by what appears to be an official team jacket bearing the large logo “USA” on the back and an arm patch that read “United States Olympic team.”

He was charged with illegally entering the Capitol, violent or disorderly conduct, and obstructing law enforcement.

Keller, 38, competed in the Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008, taking two golds and a silver in the 4×200 meter freestyle relays, and two bronzes in the individual 400-meter freestyle.

His 2004 relay gold in Athens was one of the most celebrated races in swimming, with a US star team that included Michael Phelps, against an Australian foursome led by the powerful champion Ian Thorpe.

In the anchor position, he was able to hold off a surging Thorpe for the win, ending years of Australian dominance in the event.

His life after the Olympics was rocky, with a divorce, multiple lost jobs, and plunge into homelessness and living out of his car for a time, he told The Olympic Channel in a 2018 podcast.

AFP

YouTube Suspends Trump Channel For A Week Over Violence Fears

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.

Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.

Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.

The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.

Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.

In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.

Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.

The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.

Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.

The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.

On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.

AFP