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South Africa: Police investigates shooting of Glebelands resident at Tavern

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Chiefs Tavern

The Independent Community Activist for Human Rights & Social Justice said on Tuesday that community members had reported that a resident of Block 48 in KwaZulu-Natal’s notoriously violent Glebelands hostel had died in “a hail of bullets” at the area’s Chiefs Tavern.

Independent Community Activist for Human Rights & Social Justice spokesperson Vanessa Burger said the incident occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning.



“The deceased was allegedly shot at least nine times and is believed to have died at the scene. The suspect, purportedly also a resident of Block 48, is apparently still at large. The motive for the murder is not yet known.”

Burger said this was the third incident at Glebelands, near Durban, in less than a week.

 “At around 10pm near Block M on 26 July a taxi belonging to a former Block R peace committee leader was shot at and badly damaged. The vehicle was parked at the time and luckily no one was inside. The preceding night security guards at the new construction site below Blocks H – K were reportedly tied up and valuable equipment stolen.”

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Burger said street lighting had not been working at Glebelands for more than three weeks, and complaints to hostel administration continued to elicit no response despite the recent upsurge in crime, and now, a murder.

“The eThekwini Municipality’s failure to provide street lighting – the most basic of security measures – to residents constitutes negligence and the willful endangerment of life of property.”

“It also exposes the costly year-on-year roll out of hostel ‘security measures’ as nothing but an opportunity to disperse the public purse among politically connected contractors. The municipality must be held liable for all recent incidents.”

Burger said it would be disingenuous for authorities to claim, as they had previously, that the most recent murder did not happen at Glebelands, Chiefs Tavern being mere metres from the nearest hostel block, or that the lack of lighting was not a contributing factor.

“It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that guns can be moved and suspects hide more easily from police under cover of darkness.”

“This is not the first time the municipality’s failure to maintain adequate lighting has contributed to hostel dweller’s deaths and was included among remedial actions required by the Public Protector in her report on Glebelands a year ago. It is shameful that this once respected institution is failing in its oversight capacity to monitor implementation of its own recommendations and hold the delinquent state accountable. Glebelands still remains in darkness.”

South African Police Services spokesperson Thulani Zwane said police had received a report of a murder where a 26-year-old man was shot dead at a tavern in Reunion.

“It is alleged that the victim and suspect were consuming alcohol at the tavern when they got into an argument.”

Zwane said according to patrons at the tavern, it was alleged that both men went outside and continued with the argument.

“Patrons then heard a gunshot and found the victim dead. The suspect had allegedly fled the scene. The suspect is known and is expected to be arrested soon.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Heavy bombardment leaves at least 17 dead.

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Source: Reuters

At least 17 people were killed on Wednesday in an explosion in the center of Jisr al Shughour, a rebel-held city in northwestern Syria, a day after heavy Russian air strikes in the vicinity, rescue workers and residents said.Several residential buildings collapsed as a result of the blast in Idlib province, near a road between the coastal city of Latakia and city of Aleppo.

“The casualties are expected to rise. The cause is not known,” said Ahmad Yaziji, head of civil defense in the city, adding at least 27 people, mostly civilians, were injured.

Bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble, another rescuer said.

The province and areas around it in northern Syria, the last remaining rebel bastion, have seen an escalation in attacks by Russian warplanes and the Syrian army even though they are protected by a “de-escalation zone” agreement brokered last year between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The bombardment has sent people fleeing from opposition-held towns in the buffer zone that straddles parts of Idlib to northern Hama and parts of Latakia province.

Turkey, which has supported the rebels and has troops to monitor the truce, has been negotiating with Moscow to halt the Russian strikes with little success.

Russian jets hovered in the sky with missile strikes reported in several villages around Jisr al Shughour, residents said.

Overnight, Russian jets struck western parts of Idlib city and residents said long-range missiles hit several villages surrounding Jisr al Shugour from army positions in Latakia province.

Jisr al Shughour has been a target of heavy bombardment by the Russian air force and the Syrian army in recent weeks. Most of its inhabitants have fled to the safety of areas close to the Turkish border, residents and local officials say.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Sri Lanka Update: US accuses external groups of masterminding Easter Sunday attack.

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Source: Reuters

The scale and sophistication of the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka suggested the involvement of an external group such as Islamic State, the U.S. ambassador said on Wednesday as the death toll jumped to 359.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated bomb attacks on churches and hotels but gave no evidence to support that.

Sri Lankan officials have blamed two domestic Islamist groups with suspected ties to Islamic State. Details have begun to emerge of a band of nine, well-educated suicide bombers, including a woman, from well-to-do families.

“If you look at the scale of the attacks, the level of coordination, the sophistication of them, it’s not implausible to think there are foreign linkages,” the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, told reporters in Colombo.

“Exploring potential linkages is going to be part of (investigations),” she said.

Teplitz said the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. military were supporting the investigation.

“Our hope is that as a result of our joint efforts we’re going to roll up the perpetrators and collaborators, trace the linkages and be able to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.”

Teplitz’s comments came as Sri Lanka’s junior defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, conceded that there had been a significant intelligence failure before the attacks, with reports of warnings of strikes not acted on and feuds at the highest levels of government.

“It is a major lapse in the sharing of intelligence information,” Wijewardene told a separate news conference.

“We have to take responsibility.”

Lakshman Kiriella, the leader of parliament, said senior officials had deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks.

“Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions,” Kiriella, who is also minister of public enterprise, told parliament.

He said information about possible suicide attacks was received from Indian intelligence on April 4 and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena three days later but it was not shared more widely.

Police earlier said the death toll had risen overnight to 359 from 321, making it the deadliest such attack in South Asian history. About 500 people were wounded.

If the Islamic State connection is confirmed, it would be the deadliest ever attack linked to the group.

The early Sunday bombings shattered the relative calm that has existed in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka since a civil war against mostly Hindu, ethnic Tamil separatists ended 10 years ago, and raised fears of a return to sectarian violence.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.

Islamic State said through its AMAQ news agency on Tuesday the assaults were carried out by seven attackers.

However, Wijewardene said there were in fact nine suicide bombers involved in the attacks on three churches and four hotels. Eight had been identified and one of them was a woman, he said.

“Most of the bombers are well-educated, come from economically strong families. Some of them went abroad for studies,” Wijewardene said.

“One of them we know went to the U.K., then went to Australia for a law degree. Foreign partners, including the U.K., are helping us with those investigations,” he said.

Wijewardene told parliament on Tuesday two Sri Lankan Islamist groups – the National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – were responsible for the blasts. He said on Wednesday the leader of one of those groups blew himself up in the attack on the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo.

The attacks have already foreshadowed a shake-up of Sri Lankan security forces, with Sirisena saying on Tuesday he planned to change some of his defense chiefs after criticism that the intelligence warnings were ignored.

A total of 60 people had been detained for questioning across Colombo since Sunday, Wijewardene said. That total includes a Syrian, according to security sources.

Police searched more homes overnight, leading to the detention of 18 more people.

The overnight raids included areas near the Gothic-style St Sebastian church in Negombo, north of the capital, where scores were killed on Sunday, a police spokesman said.

An unspecified number of people were detained in western Sri Lanka, the scene of Muslim riots in 2014.

 “Search operations are going on everywhere, there is tight checking of Muslim areas,” a security source said.

Most of those killed and wounded were Sri Lankans, although officials said 38 foreigners were also killed. That included British, U.S., Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. Forty-five children were among the dead.

The government has imposed emergency rule and an overnight curfew. It said it has also blocked online messaging services to stop the spread of inflammatory rumors that it feared could incite communal clashes.

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