Boko Haram bombers kill seven in Cameroon

Members of the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Force patrol outskirts of the far north region of the country where Boko Haram militants have been active since 2013, on March 21, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Boko Haram bombers kill seven in Cameroon

  • Amchide is a small trading village in Cameroon’s Far North province
  • Militants’ campaign has killed more than 27,000 people since 2009, several thousand of them in Cameroon

YAOUNDÉ: Seven people were killed when two suicide bombers, suspected to be members of Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group, attacked a village in northern Cameroon on Sunday, police and a local official said.
“Two Boko Haram bombers blew themselves up at around 8p.m.” in the attack on Amchide, on the border with Nigeria, a policeman said Monday, while a local official said a village chief and two teenagers were among the dead.
The attack took place as the villagers were “returning home” though a zone that the authorities have said is dangerous after 6p.m., the official said.
Amchide is a small trading village in Cameroon’s Far North province, a tongue of land that lies between Chad to the east and Nigeria to the west.
The province has been hit since 2014 by Boko Haram fighters making incursions from northeast Nigeria.
The militants’ campaign has killed more than 27,000 people since 2009, several thousand of them in Cameroon, and displaced more than two million, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region.
According to Amnesty International, at least 275 people were killed in the Far North last year.

Afghan lawmakers urge unmasking, punishment of embezzlers of $19bn US aid

Updated 25 min 49 sec ago

Afghan lawmakers urge unmasking, punishment of embezzlers of $19bn US aid

  • Audit report reveals almost one-third of American funding toward Afghanistan’s reconstruction ‘lost to waste, fraud, abuse’

KABUL: Afghan legislators on Wednesday called on the US to unmask and punish those involved in the embezzlement of at least $19 billion of American aid earmarked for the war-torn country’s reconstruction.

The US Congress had approved nearly $134 billion for redevelopment programs in Afghanistan since 2002, following the American invasion that ousted the Taliban.

However, in its latest audit report released on Tuesday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said it had reviewed $63 billion of the amount and discovered that about $19 billion of it had been “lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Some $1.8 billion had been squandered between January 2018 and December 2019 alone.

“Those behind this squandering, fraud, and corruption must be identified, should be tried and punished because they were involved in a big historical treason against our people,” Raihana Azad, a lawmaker from the central Afghan province of Dai Kundi, told Arab News.

“They have stolen the money which was earmarked for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and projects and what has happened has been a big blow for the poor people here.”

While it remains unclear if those involved in the misappropriation of funds were Afghan nationals or donors, Seddiq Ahmad Usmani, a lawmaker from northern Parwan province, said foreign aid had been handled by representatives chosen by the donors themselves.

“Foreigners have to respond as they were mostly behind such embezzlement with some (Afghan) government leaders.

“It will be very fair to see those people behind bars. We ask the American government to focus now on finding the culprits, whether Afghans or foreigners, and punish them,” he added.

Numerous complaints have been raised in Afghanistan over years about the efficiency of foreign aid and its links to corruption and SIGAR itself has routinely criticized the Afghan government’s insufficient efforts to curb graft.

In a report released earlier this year, the agency said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration was “more interested in checking off boxes for the international community than in actually uprooting its corruption problem.”

Abdul Qadir Qalatwal, a parliament member from southern Zabul province, said: “It is clear that foreigners were behind this squandering because they approved the projects, funded them, and conducted the works.”

He added that the Afghan government was ready “to give accountability for any aid money that has been provided by donors for development projects.”

Another lawmaker, Keramuddin Reza Zada from central Ghor province, said that SIGAR had been operating since 2010 and had investigated a series of fraud cases, so it was high time that it exposed those behind the corruption to stop further misuse.

“It (SIGAR) has had plenty of time to reveal former culprits. Now is the time to do so too, so future embezzlement is prevented,” the lawyer added. 

Jamshid Rasooli, spokesman for Afghanistan’s attorney general, was unable to comment on SIGAR’s latest report. However, the finance ministry’s public affairs officer, Shamrooz Khan Masjidi, said the projects where the fraud took place were those “that were funded and handled by donors.”

Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan government adviser, told Arab News: “With SIGAR having been around since 2010, it shows that those who make war decisions are more interested in reaching outcomes than reading audit reports.

“This SIGAR report shows that for a superpower, there is no way to conduct a war thousands of kilometers ...  from home, without wasting its own resources.”