DC Mayor: We Have to Be Concerned About Virus Rebound

In hindsight, Rosa Jimenez Cano realizes that attending a protest against police brutality was risky — and not just for the usual reasons.”This can be kind of a tinderbox for COVID,” the 39-year-old venture capitalist said after attending a demonstration in Florida, one of many around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer.  As more beaches, churches, mosques, schools and businesses reopened worldwide, the sudden and mass civil unrest in the United States is raising fears of new virus outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and deaths than any other. And it’s not just in the U.S. — London hosted a large anti-racism protest Sunday where demonstrators violated social distancing rules.Rosa Jimenez Cano said she planned to self-quarantine for 14 days, worrying she was perhaps “irresponsible” when she attended Saturday night’s protest in Miami, where she exposed herself to crowds of people.Protests over Floyd’s death — the latest in a series of killings of black men and women at the hands of police in America — have shaken the country from Minneapolis to New York, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Some turned into riots and clashes with police, leaving stores in flames and torched cars in the streets.  Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to jowl, many without masks, many chanting, singing or shouting. The virus is dispersed by microscopic droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze, sing or talk.”There’s no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets … it’s not healthy,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.””Two weeks from now across America, we’re going to find out whether or not this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up again or not.”The U.S. has seen over 1.7 million infections and nearly 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a nation that does not have universal health care.Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday she was very concerned that the protests in the nation’s capital and elsewhere could provide fertile ground for a new series of outbreaks. Many of the protesters were wearing masks, but there were no attempts at social distancing.”We’ve been working very hard in these last eight to 10 weeks to not have any mass gatherings,” she said. “As a nation, we have to be concerned about a rebound.”Even the many protesters wearing masks are not guaranteed protection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cloth masks keep infected people from spreading the virus but are not designed to protect wearers from getting it.Mass protests in connection with Floyd’s death were also being held in Europe.In London, thousands of people marched Sunday  chanting “No justice! No peace!” while carrying signs reading “Justice for George Floyd” and “Racism is a global issue.” Many demonstrators were not wearing masks and most in the crowd at Trafalgar Square were packed closely together. Britain has seen nearly 38,500 virus deaths, the second-highest in the world after the United States.In Berlin, hundreds of protesters picketed outside the U.S. Embassy on Saturday night under the motto: “Justice for George Floyd.” Others marched near the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.Many Americans returned Sunday to in-person church services for the first time in weeks and tens of thousands of mosques reopened across the Middle East, but countries from India to Colombia still saw rising numbers of new infections.Nearly 6.1 million infections have been reported worldwide, with nearly 370,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true death toll is believed to be significantly higher, since many victims died of the virus without ever being tested.The situation worsened Sunday in India, where new daily cases topped 8,000 for the first time and 193 more deaths were reported. Despite that, India still is easing restrictions on shops and public transport in more states beginning Monday, although subways and schools will remain closed.In Saudi Arabia, mosques reopened Sunday for the first time in more than two months, but Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed. In Jerusalem, throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque before it reopened. Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks as they entered.In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, authorities were locking down an area of nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise. Mayor Claudia Lopez said no one in the working-class Kennedy area — inaugurated by the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 — will be allowed out, except to seek food or medical care or in case of an emergency. Factories must also close.  In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Sunday that he would ask Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation’s state of emergency that is set to expire on June 7. That allows the government to keep ordering lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed at least 27,000 lives, many of them in overwhelmed nursing homes.”We have almost reached safe harbor,” Sánchez said.At the Vatican, Pope Francis cautioned people against being pessimistic as they emerge from coronavirus lockdowns.During Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark Pentecost Sunday, Francis noted a tendency to say that “nothing will return as before.” That kind of thinking, Francis said, guarantees that “the one thing that certainly does not return is hope.” 

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Protests in US Continue Amid Curfews, States of Emergency

Angry demonstrators carried their protests over the death of George Floyd into a sixth evening in cities across the United States Sunday, raising the prospect of renewed confrontations with police seeking to enforce overnight curfews.
 
Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit and Philadelphia are among the major cities that have imposed orders banning marchers from the streets after dark. The governors of Texas and Virginia have imposed states of emergency in their states.
 
Fires, vandalism, looting and violence – much of it aimed at police – have flared over the last five nights. The marchers, black and white, are showing their anger not just at what they say is harsh police treatment of black men and women, but at systemic racism in the United States.
 
Police cars and government buildings were set on fire. Store windows were smashed. Monuments in parks were spray painted and vandalized.   National Guard soldiers and Minnesota state police form a barricade as protesters gather outside the Minnesota State Capitol, May 31, 2020, in St. Paul, Minnesota.Police and National Guard soldiers in riot gear often stood guard as boisterous but largely peaceful street demonstrations swelled in size throughout Saturday. But as night fell and curfews were ignored, some of the protests turned violent, prompting police to respond with pepper pellets, tear gas and rubber bullets.
 
The demonstrations began in Minneapolis, where George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after being held handcuffed, face down, with a police officer’s knee on the back of his neck for more than eight minutes.
 
Widely circulated videos of the incident captured Floyd – who police say was suspected of trying to spend a counterfeit $20 bill in a food store — pleading that he could not breathe while bystanders called on the officer to let him up.  
 
The officer involved was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days later. He and three other officers who were present and did not intervene were fired on Tuesday.  A law enforcement officer stands guard as people take part in a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 31, 2020.In all, about 5,000 National Guard members have been activated across the country, while another 2,000 are prepared to activate if called.
 
President Donald Trump has said he understands the rage over Floyd’s death, but said all protests must be peaceful. He has condemned the violence and threatened force if crowds do not heed the warnings of police.  
 
Protests near the White House in Washington erupted into violence late Saturday.  Some protesters set off fireworks and threw bottles at the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police, who fired pepper spray in response.  
Later, hundreds of protesters circled the White House and looted nearby stores as a fire erupted near the historic Hay Adams Hotel.
 
The president has blamed most of the violence on “Antifa and other radical left-wing groups,” and offered Minnesota federal military assistance.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File Embed” />Copy Download AudioProtest near White House (video by VOA’s Turkish Service)Attorney General William Barr said “the outrage of our national community about what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is real and legitimate.
 
“Accountability for his death must be addressed,” he continued, “and is being addressed, through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level. That system is working and moving at exceptional speed.  Already initial charges have been filed. That process continues to move forward.  Justice will be served.”
 
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said organized agitators from outside the state were responsible for some of the violence, including white supremacists, anarchists and people associated with drug cartels.
 
There were multiple shootings Saturday in downtown Indianapolis. One person was killed, and two were wounded. Police Chief Randal Taylor urged residents who did not live in the area to leave because, he said, “Downtown is not safe at this time.”Jessica Knutson, and her daughter Abigail, 3, place flowers at a memorial to George Floyd, May 31, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Nearly 1,400 people had been arrested across the country, according to an Associated Press tally Saturday. That total does not include arrests overnight Saturday and on Sunday.
 
Numerous Minneapolis businesses suffered extensive property damage as protesters randomly looted stores in a neighborhood near the site where Floyd died.  Somali-American business owner Ahmed Siyad Shafi’i told VOA that vandals attacked all his of his stores overnight.
   
“They broke the glass, the doors, the windows,” he said, “and take whatever they can take.”  Shafi’i, the owner of a restaurant and clothing store in South Minneapolis, called it “unacceptable” for anyone to destroy personal property and suggested peaceful protests.   VOA’s Somali Service contributed to this story.
 

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Protesters Worldwide Voice Support for US Demonstrators

The shocking on-camera death of African American George Floyd is drawing attention around the globe.Anti-U.S. protests deploring the man’s death erupted in Western capitals on Sunday and newspaper headlines heaped scorn on American police over the incident last week in Minneapolis.Floyd, a black man, died after white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee on the back of his neck for more than eight minutes, even as Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. The incident was captured on video.Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to voice support for American demonstrators who have marched in dozens of U.S. cities over the last five days to condemn the police conduct. Some of the worst U.S. violence in decades has erupted, with police cars and government buildings set afire, stores ransacked and looted, and public monuments defaced.The British protesters chanted, “No justice! No peace!” and waved placards with the words, “How many more?”People protest in Berlin, Germany, May 31, 2020 after the violent death of the African-American George Floyd by a white policeman in the USA against racism and police violence, among other things with a sign “Who do call when police murders”.Denmark, Germany
Protesters in Denmark marched to the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, carrying placards with such messages as “Stop Killing Black People.” In Germany, protesters carried signs saying, “Hold Cops Accountable,” and “Who Do You Call When Police Murder?”Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper carried a provocative Sunday headline: “This killer-cop set America ablaze” with an arrow pointing to a photo of Chauvin, who has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.In some newspapers, Floyd’s death and the ensuing American protests have pushed news of the ongoing worldwide fight against the coronavirus pandemic to second-tier status, at least for the moment.  Authoritarian regime perspective
In countries with authoritarian governments, state-controlled media showcased the demonstrations in the context of U.S. government complaints about crackdowns on protesters in other countries, such as China’s treatment of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.Hu Xijin, the editor of the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper, said U.S. officials can now see the protests out of their own windows: “I want to ask [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the U.S., like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”Iranian state television has shown frequent images of the U.S. unrest, with one unsubstantiated report accusing U.S. police agencies in Washington of “setting fire to cars and attacking protesters.”Russia said Floyd’s death was an example of U.S. police violence against African-Americans and accused the U.S. of “systemic problems in the human rights sphere.””This incident is far from the first in a series of lawless conduct and unjustified violence from U.S. law enforcement,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “American police commit such high-profile crimes all too often.”  Lebanon
Lebanese anti-government protesters flooded social media with tweets supporting U.S. protesters, with the hashtag #Americanrevolts becoming the top trending tag in Lebanon.

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‘No Justice, No Peace’ Protests Resume in NYC for 4th Day

New York City officials were looking for a peaceful way forward as the city entered a fourth day of protests against police brutality that have left police cars burned and led to the arrest of hundreds of people.Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no plans to impose a curfew Sunday, unlike other major U.S. cities, and smaller cities throughout the state.De Blasio said city police showed “tremendous restraint overall” during the weekend’s protests, but promised an investigation of video showing two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators on a Brooklyn street. He was appointing two city officials to conduct an independent review of how the protests unfolded and how they were handled by the police.”We all better get back to the humanity here,” de Blasio said at a Sunday morning briefing. “The protesters are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect. The police officers are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect.”Hours after he spoke, demonstrations resumed. Hundreds of people gathered on a plaza in downtown Brooklyn, chanting “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter,” while making occasional insulting hand gestures at a line of police officers protecting the arena where the NBA’s Nets play. Marchers chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” — a rallying cry that originated from the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — during a separate rally in Queens.  Police detain protesters as they march down the street during a solidarity rally for George Floyd, May 30, 2020, in New York.Largely peaceful protests around the city Saturday gave way to scattered clashes between police and protesters later in the evening. Demonstrators smashed shop windows, threw objects at officers, set police vehicles on fire and blocked roads. Graffiti was scrawled on Manhattan’s famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.There were multiple complaints about police unnecessarily shoving or bludgeoning protesters and spraying crowds with chemicals.New York City police said 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed by fire. There were no major injuries reported. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said some peaceful demonstrations were “hijacked” by people with violent intent.”We’re going to make sure that everyone has the right to peacefully protest and assemble,” Shea said said at a briefing with the mayor. “But we are not going to tolerate destruction of property, having our officers put into harm’s way or any civilians put into harm’s way.”Similar protests flared around the nation in response to the Minnesota death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. Elsewhere in New York, shop windows were shattered in Rochester and demonstrators set fire to a tractor trailer in Albany. In Buffalo, a person threw a flaming object though a city hall window.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the National Guard is on standby and that hundreds of additional troopers are being made available in Buffalo and Rochester, where hundreds of people showed Sunday to help clean up the damage.”We expect additional protests tonight and we’re preparing for such,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.The governor also said state Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into actions by NYPD officers and protesters will include any protests held throughout the weekend.Protesters clash with New York police officers during a demonstration, May 30, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.Cleanup was under way Sunday morning in New York City, which is still under a lockdown enacted two months ago  when it became the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.At least five burned-out NYPD vehicles that remained near Manhattan’s Union Square were towed early Sunday afternoon. People walked around broken glass on the street to take pictures of the vehicles.A handful of protesters rallied peacefully in the square, holding Black Lives Matter signs and giving speeches denouncing police violence while families were picnicking nearby.  Ken Kidd, who lives a few blocks south of the park, was among the people inspecting the damage to the vehicles and had witnessed Saturday’s demonstrations. He said protesters and police tried to remain peaceful at the start before the stress of a city heavily hit by the coronavirus came out.”I think a community can only say ‘Enough’ so many times and the words aren’t heard so then they got to take action and that’s what happened last night. That’s what I watched happen last night,” Kidd said.The independent review ordered by de Blasio will be conducted by New York City Corporation Counsel James Johnson, who is the city’s chief lawyer, and Margaret Garnett, commissioner of the Department of Investigation, which typically investigates suspected wrongdoing and fraud by city employees.

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Trump Praises National Guard Response to Unrest, Declares Antifa a Terrorist Group

U.S. President Donald Trump is praising the National Guard for doing a “great job” in responding to protests that turned violent overnight in Minnesota following the death there of an African American man in police custody.In tweets on Sunday, after a night of violence in dozens of U.S. cities, Trump blamed “ANTIFA-led anarchists” for instigating the chaos.The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) President Donald Trump gestures as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2020.Trump said the United States will be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization.”As this tweet demonstrates, terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused,” according to Hina Shamsi, the national security project director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns.”The Anti-Defamation League describes Antifa as “a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements.”Mostly peaceful protests
Unrest across America has followed what had been generally peaceful protests in the days after the death in Minneapolis of 46-year-old George Floyd, an African American man, who died after a white officer held Floyd down, pressing a knee into his neck for more than eight minutes.A police officer sprays protesters in the Brooklyn borough of New York City during a march against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, May 30, 2020.States impose curfews
Curfews have been imposed in at least 25 cities in 16 U.S. states.The violence came close to home for Trump again Saturday night, occurring within blocks of the White House while U.S. Park Police, the Secret Service and the National Guard defended a perimeter around nearby Lafayette Square.As pepper spray pushed back hundreds of protesters, vandals smashed windows of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, two banks and dozens of other businesses were damaged and looted within blocks of the White House, as well as in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood.Protesters set small fires inside two restaurants across the street from the White House Historical Association, just off Lafayette Square, and multistory scaffolding was also set on fire in a portion of the nearby U.S. Chamber of Commerce building under construction, adjacent to the Hay-Adams Hotel.The White House and surrounding areasVandalism on National Mall
There were also numerous instances of vandalism to sites around the National Mall.“For generations the Mall has been our nation’s premier civic gathering space for non-violent demonstrations, and we ask individuals to carry on that tradition,” pleaded the National Park Service in a tweet Sunday afternoon.The Washington fire department responded to the larger fires, but witnesses said local police were conspicuously absent as the vandalism occurred, some of it playing out live on local and national television.The violence was conducted by an “organized group more bent on destruction than on protest,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters, explaining that she walked around the area at 3 a.m. to see the many businesses that had been attacked, but also observed a “beautiful downtown D.C. still standing.”The mayor added “it was maddening to think that anybody would destroy property, put our officers in danger and put themselves in danger.”Demonstrators clash as people gather to protest the death of George Floyd, May 30, 2020, near the White House in Washington.DC police officers injured
Eleven D.C. Metro Police officers were injured during Saturday night’s protests, according to the department’s chief, Peter Newsham. He said one officer sustained a compound leg fracture and was to undergo surgery Sunday.A total of 29 of the department’s vehicles were damaged or spray painted, according to Newsham.The Secret Service, in a statement, said more than 60 of its uniformed officers and special agents had been injured since Friday night, with 11 taken to hospital after being hit by projectiles, “kicked, punched and exposed to bodily fluids.”People have a right to protest but “not to destroy the city,” Bowser said.A reporter asked the mayor about her earlier criticism of the president’s tweeted comments that were interpreted by many as adding fuel to the fire.“The president has a role to play nationally in calming the unrest that we see in cities across America,” she said. “At the least, he has to not incite violence and that is what we expect.”If Trump addresses the nation, “I hope that it’s presidential” and calms the nation.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File Embed” />Copy Download AudioVideo of protests near White House recorded by VOA’s Turkish ServiceBracing for Sunday evening events
Newsham told reporters “we are hoping that cooler heads will prevail” at planned events Sunday evening. “We will have sufficient department resources to manage this.”President Trump, who was in the White House both Friday and Saturday night, praised the Secret Service response and tweeted on Saturday that if demonstrators had come any closer the authorities would have responded with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”Trump claimed Secret Service agents told him they were clamoring for engagement with the demonstrators.“We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and good practice,” he quoted them as saying.Anti-police violence protesters gather near White House, Sunday, May 31, 2020. (Photo: Ralph Robinson / VOA)Trump appeared to invite his supporters to amass on Saturday to counter the protesters.“Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” he tweeted, using the acronym for his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020No such crowd of the president’s supporters appeared.
 

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Botswana to Allow Farmers Keep Wildlife to Boost Agro-Tourism

Botswana’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, says his government will allow farmers to keep small game as a way to encourage locals’ participation in agro-tourism. He added that it is paramount for them to have a stake in the industry.
 
Speaking in a televised address Saturday, Masisi said Botswana’s tourism sector needs a boost after the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
 
“In order to revive Botswana’s tourism sector, government shall accelerate initiatives aimed at stimulating local and international tourism by creating an enabling environment for increased investment in the tourism sector, in particular citizen participation,” he said.    
 
Masisi said, as one of the measures to boost tourism, his government will allow local farmers keep wildlife within their properties.    
   
“The agro-tourism guidelines are also being reviewed to facilitate citizens to make a decent living out of their fields (masimo) to complement agro-tourism and diversify its products. Game farming guidelines shall soon be issued to enable those Batswana who are interested to keep small game or wildlife in their fields if they meet set criteria,” Masisi said.    Botswana farmers will soon be able to diversify their activities to include keeping small game. (Mqondisi Dube/VOA)Local farmer Banks Ndebele has previously sought permission to keep small game in his property outside the capital Gaborone.
 
He said while it is a welcome initiative, the government must remove bottlenecks, which might impede the initiative’s implementation.
   
“I think it’s a welcome development. It has always been our belief that agriculture needs to be diversified. One only hopes that the government will remove bottlenecks and impediments that end up discouraging people from taking up the initiative,” Ndebele said.  
 
Tourism is a significant contributor to the southern African nation’s economy, employing nearly 100,000 people.
 
But the impact of COVID-19 has been devastating, with all bookings cancelled for the rest of the year, leaving many people jobless.
 

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Cameroon Military Acknowledges Soldiers Arrested in Togo 

Cameroon’s military says three of five men recently arrested by Togolese police and portrayed by Togolese media as notorious criminals who committed serious offenses against Togolese citizens are Cameroonian soldiers, while the other two are former convicts. The three military men stole weapons from the military headquarters in Yaoundé and went to Togo’s capital, Lomé, where they used the weapons to harass Togolese, according to Togolese police.  Cameroonian military spokesperson Atonfack Guemo says investigations by the military indicate that Ntanga Clement Didier Mogo, Oumarou Abdou Fadil and Ewoundjo Elle Serge Hubert, who were arrested in Lomé for robbery and harassment of civilians, are notorious, dangerous and dishonest members of the Cameroon military.  He says Cameroon has started disciplinary and administrative proceedings against the men as provided for by military regulations and that Togo should punish them as its law provides. He says Cameroon’s Defense Ministry denies responsibility for their crimes and atrocities because the men in question have broken off links with Cameroon’s military. Guemo said the other two men arrested in Lomé are civilians with criminal records and were wanted. He said the five arrested in Togo were helped by another military officer, Essimbi Francis, who has been arrested for his role in other crimes and is being held in Yaoundé. Togo media reported May 20 that the five Cameroonians had been arrested in Lomé after using weapons to rob a Togolese businessman of his car and money.  Cameroonian media reported that Yendoube Douti, head of the Lomé research and criminal investigation unit of the Togolese police, said the five men confessed they were using weapons they obtained from the Cameroon defense headquarters in Yaoundé.  He says investigations carried out by Togolese police indicate that the brain behind the group of robbers is Ntanga Clement Didier Mogo, known as Tony, a member of the Cameroon military. He says Tony convinced his colleague, Oumarou Abo Fadil, who was in charge of weapons at Cameroon’s defense headquarters in Yaoundé, to steal automatic pistols and go with him to Togo, where they could make a better living stealing and selling vehicles. Mogo, speaking on the state broadcaster Television Togolese said he and his group traveled to Lomé to buy cars for a senior military official he refused to name, but that they were tempted to steal when their stay was extended by COVID-19 travel restrictions. He says that he did not plan to steal when he left Yaoundé for Lomé but that he asked his colleagues who control weapons at the defense headquarters to accompany him with pistols for security against possible attacks by highway robbers. He says after they got to Lomé, both Cameroon and Togo sealed their borders and they could not return. Mogo acknowledged that Togolese police arrested them after they stole money and a car from a rich Togolese businessman and were trying to escape. He said it was the only act of robbery they committed. Cameroon’s military says whenever they return after facing justice in Togo, they will  answer charges for the crimes committed in Cameroon and for damaging Cameroon’s  image in a foreign country and that for now, they are no longer members of the Cameroonian military.            

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 Roadside Bomb Blast Kills 9 Near Somali Capital 

Somali officials say nine civilians were killed and 10 others were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion outside Mogadishu on Sunday. The blast from an improvised explosive device hit a bus transporting civilians from Mogadishu to the town of Wanlaweyn, 90 kilometers west of the capital. The Somali government says al-Shabab is responsible for the attack. “The federal government of Somalia condemns the barbaric act of terrorism committed against the Somali civilians,” read a statement issued by the Ministry of Information. Governor of Lower Shabelle region Ibrahim Aden Najah told VOA Somali that seven victims died on the spot while two others died in hospitals. He said there were a total of 22 people in the bus and only 3 people escaped unharmed. Al-Shabab has been known to plant IEDs in the area of the explosion known as Hawa Abdi, about 18 kilometers west of Mogadishu, to target the Somali military and African Union peacekeepers. These IEDs often miss their targets and kill civilians.  Al-Shabab has been using IEDs increasingly in its attacks in Somalia. Last week, 14 government soldiers were killed in two separate IED attacks in Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle regions. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for both attacks. The Director of the U.N. Mine Action Service Agnès Marcaillou told the U.N. Security Council earlier this month that there more than 160 IED attacks through the end of April in 2020. The U.N. has reported a drop in civilian casualties in Mogadishu this year, which was attributed to the current security plan and military operations in the neighboring Lower Shabelle region.    

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