French PM pays homage to aid workers killed in Niger

French PM Jean Castex, center, French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, left, and Minister of State for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad and Francophonie Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne pay homage to the six humanitarian aid workers at Orly Airport, south of Paris, August 14, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 August 2020

French PM pays homage to aid workers killed in Niger

  • PM Jean Castex sought to assure the parents of the four women and two men that all of France mourned their passing
  • The six, their Nigierien guide and driver, were killed on Sunday in a wildlife haven about an hour’s drive southeast of Niamey

PARIS: France’s prime minister led a memorial service Friday for six aid workers killed in Niger in what investigators said had likely been a premeditated attack targeting Westerners.
As the six caskets lay side by side in the VIP section of Orly Airport south of Paris, where the bodies arrived Friday from Niamey, Jean Castex sought to assure the parents of the four women and two men that all of France mourned their passing.
“In front of these six coffins... I want first of all to express the pain, the incomprehension, the anger of all French people,” said the premier as he saluted the youngsters’ generosity and altruism.
“The victims of this attack came to Niger to do good. They met with evil.”
The six, their Nigierien guide and driver, were killed on Sunday in a wildlife haven about an hour’s drive southeast of Niamey.
The area is a popular destination for weekend leisure trips by Niamey residents, including foreigners.
They worked for French NGO Acted and were aged between 25 and 30.
“This incarnation of evil, France unfortunately knows it only too well... it is very likely the same hatred, the same cowardice, the same inhumanity at work in Niger and Bataclan,” the Parisian concert venue targeted by extremists in 2015, said Castex.
And he stressed there was “no question of giving an inch of ground to criminal fanaticism or to enemies of the freedom to act, think and engage.”
Earlier, a source close to an ongoing investigation by French anti-terror prosecutors told AFP the attack “appears to have been premeditated to target a priori mainly Westerners.”
France’s anti-terror prosecutor’s office said Monday it would probe charges of murder “with links to a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association” in relation to the killings.
A team of 11 specialized investigators departed France for Niger the following day.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack carried out by gunmen on motorcycles.
But “given the modus operandi, the terrorist hypothesis is being favored,” the source told AFP.
Suspicion has fallen on Daesh in the Great Sahara, active in the shared border region of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where it is being pursued by France’s Barkhane force fighting extremists in the Sahel.
The French investigation will seek to determine whether the assailants had been tipped off about the humanitarians’ visit to the national park.
French President Emmanuel Macron has described it as “manifestly a terrorist attack” and said there would be repercussions.
“We’re pursuing action to eradicate the terrorist groups, with the strengthened support of our partners,” Macron said.


Sanity prevails: Indian journalists decry misinformation about 'civil war' in Pakistan's largest city

Updated 23 October 2020

Sanity prevails: Indian journalists decry misinformation about 'civil war' in Pakistan's largest city

  • Indian mainstream and social media claimed this week a civil war had broken out in the Pakistani port city of Karachi
  • Journalists say Indian media want to create an impression that Pakistan has become very unstable and chaotic

NEW DELHI: Indian journalists decried a "garbage fake news" wave that earlier this week came from some of the country's media outlets which published reports of "a civil war-like" situation in Pakistan's largest city.
Earlier this week, several Indian media outlets, including News18, India Today, Zee News, reported that clashes took place between the Pakistani police and army in Pakistan's seaside metropolis of Karachi in the wake of opposition protests.
The fake Indian reports came a day after an inquiry was ordered by the Pakistani army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, into the circumstances surrounding the police arrest of opposition leader Mohammad Safdar in Karachi.
“It is not a fake news it is garbage fake news because there is certainly a problem in Pakistan but to exaggerate it to the point of falsification is the height of the irresponsibility," Mumbai-based activist and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni told Arab News.
“The Indian media wants to create an impression that Pakistan has become very unstable and chaotic with some fake news and some fake photograph,” he said.
"On the one hand we call ourselves the world’s largest democracy, but it’s a democracy that feeds on the hatred for its neighbor. It reflects poorly on Indian media and India as a nation. I strongly condemn it."
Senior Indian journalists admit they are confused how the hoax outbreak could even take place and why.
"I am not sure how Indian media spreading fake news about the happenings in Pakistan would help Indian government," Sanjay Kapoor, editor of the English-language fortnightly Hard News, said.
“I am not sure India would benefit from this. Pandering to fake news reflects on all media, wherever they are located. It shows poorly on their professionalism."
"At the time of tension, truth is casualty on both sides. Editors should be mindful everywhere that they do not succumb to propaganda. Media should do its job- reporting truth and speaking truth to power," Kapoor said.
Ties between Pakistan and India have been particularly tense since August last year when New Delhi revoked the special autonomy of the disputed Kashmir region it governs. The Muslim-majority territory has been the site of decades of hostility between the two nuclear archrivals, who both claim the region in full but rule in part.
"When there is a trust deficit, when there is no dialogue, when there is no political outreach, such exaggeration of news is possible,” Jatin Desai from Mumbai-based Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy told Arab News.
The younger social media-savvy generation is not surprised that Indian media are peddling misinformation about Pakistan.
"If you look at the reporting on Pakistan in Indian media you will find that the domestic media is trying to portray the Islamic nation in a very negative way all the time," University of Delhi student Siddhant Sarang said.
"I am not surprised if the Indian media went overboard in its recent report on the political turmoil in Pakistan."
Arab News reached out to some of the news outlets that published the fake reports, but none of them responded.