US halts some Cameroon military assistance over human rights

Cameroonian elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) members pas under a plazard of Cameroon President Paul Biya in the southwest city of Buea, Cameroon, in this October 4, 2018 photo. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo)
Updated 07 February 2019

US halts some Cameroon military assistance over human rights

  • Rights groups have accused Cameroon authorities of using the fight against Boko Haram to crack down on political opponents
  • President Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday it was halting some military assistance to Cameroon over allegations of gross human rights violations by its security forces in the northwest, southwest and far north regions.
A State Department official said the United States had terminated a C-130 aircraft training program, and halted deliveries of four defender boats, nine armored vehicles and an upgrade of a Cessna aircraft for Cameroon’s rapid intervention battalion.
Furthermore, the United States had withdrawn its offer for Cameroon to be part of the State Partnership Program, a military cooperation program, the official said.
“We do not take these measures lightly, but we will not shirk from reducing assistance further if evolving conditions require it,” the official said. “For the time being, other programs will continue.”
Cameroon has cooperated closely with the United States in the fight against Islamist militant group Boko Haram in West and central Africa. But rights groups have accused authorities of using the fight against Boko Haram to crack down on political opponents, and make arbitrary arrests and torture people.
Authorities arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto in January, accusing him of mobilizing dissent against President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982.
Biya has been accused by the opposition and rights groups of cracking down in the Anglophone Southwest region to root out armed separatists trying to end his grip on power.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Nigeria and neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon during Boko Haram’s campaign to carve out an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
“We emphasize that it is in Cameroon’s interest to show greater transparency in investigating credible allegations of gross violations of human rights security forces,” the State Department official said.


Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

Updated 52 min 18 sec ago

Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

  • Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame while a third person died of injuries
  • Macron called for churches around the country to be given added security

NICE: A man wielding a knife at a church in the French city of Nice killed three people, slitting the throat of at least one, and injured several others before being apprehended by police, officials said Thursday.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what the city’s Mayor Christian Estrosi called an “Islamo-fascist attack.”
“He (the attacker) kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) even while under medication” after he was injured during his arrest, Estrosi told journalists at the scene.NIC

Video footage shows police entering the church in Nice where the attack is thought to have been carried out. (Twitter)

Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the city on the Mediterranean coast, while a third person died of injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar, a police source told AFP.
“The situation is now under control,” police spokeswoman Florence Gavello said.
France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is underway in Paris. 

 

There have been unconfirmed reports that at least one of the victims was decapitated. (Twitter)

In Nice in particular, painful memories remain fresh of the jihadist attack during the Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
It was part of a wave of attacks on French soil, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, which has killed more than 250 people since 2015.

 

 

The attacker was captured by police and taken to hospital. (Twitter)

The assault prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute’s silence on Thursday, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers abruptly left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
Estrosi, who said Macron would soon be arriving in Nice, called for churches around the country to be given added security or to be closed as a precaution.
(With agencies)