- Dozens killed by bombs in Syria, clouding UN peace session
The Chairman of Al-Hayah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigerian (ACBAN), Alhaji Ibrahim Mafa has said that 1, 637 herdsmen were killed in various attacks by Boko Haram terror suspects in Borno state; with the torching of many Fulani tents and hamlets.
Ibrahim disclosed this Sunday to journalists in Maiduguri, while lamenting on the death toll of herdsmen in the six-year Boko Haram insurgency in Sambisa Forest and Northern Borno State, comprising 10 council areas.
He said since the Boko Haram insurgency, the cattle breeders association lost over a million livestock to the terrorists that operate and attack in the forest and north parts of Borno state.
This, he said could have been used to ‘finance and sustain’ Boko Haram insurgency, despite the blocking of fuel and food supplies by the military.
“We also lost about one million livestock, comprising 146,399 cows, 54, 374 goats and sheep among others,” said Mafa on rustled livestock.
Mafa further disclosed that members of the association also lost 395, 605 sacks of grains to the terrorists.
He however commended the military for its efforts in fighting the terrorists, in spite of the difficult desert and forests terrains in the North-East sub-region of the country.
He said: “We commend the soldiers for chasing out these Boko Haram terrorists from the forest and desert; and liberating many communities hitherto occupied by insurgents.”
He however alerted the military that the terrorists are still wrecking more havoc in “inaccessible and remote” communities using motorcycles and bicycles to attack people and other herdsmen.
He said that the terrorists have resorted to the use of motorcycles and bicycles to attack cattle breeders and snatch their livestock in remote communities that are yet to be accessible by troops in Sambisa Forest and Northern Borno state.
He also added that some of these stolen livestock were being kept around Dikwa town, before they will be smuggled to other parts of the country for sale and continues with Boko Haram terrorists’ activities in Borno.
“Some of the livestock are smuggled to the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun Republic,” said Mafa.
He however appealed to the military to explore the possibilities of deploying more troops to remote communities to check mate Boko Haram attacks and terrorism.
“I’m also appealing to the Federal and Borno State Governments to consider assisting the cattle breeders in their rehabilitation and resettlement program for terrorism victims in the North East,” he said, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Kashim Shettima, should come to the aid of cattle breeders ameliorate their sufferings.
“We appeal to government rebuild our torched tents and huts, as well as reactivation of our water-points destroyed by the insurgents, while attacking Fulani settlements and hamlets,” cried Mafa yesterday in Maiduguri.
Meanwhile, a triple bombing killed at least 50 people in a predominantly Shiite suburb south of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday even as a U.N. mediator held his first meeting with members of the main opposition group that seeks progress on humanitarian issues before it will join formal talks on ending the five-year civil war.
The attacks were claimed by militants from the Islamic State group, and Syria’s delegate to the U.N.-sponsored peace talks said the violence confirmed the connection between “terrorism” and “some political groups” — a reference to those who oppose President Bashar Assad.
The blasts went off in the Damascus suburb of Sayyda Zeinab, about 600 meters (yards) from one of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims. Syria’s state news agency SANA said the attackers detonated a car bomb at a bus stop and that two suicide bombers then set off more explosives as rescuers rushed to the area.
State TV showed several burning cars and a scorched bus, as well as blown out windows, twisted metal and large holes in the facade of a nearby apartment building. The golden-domed Shiite shrine itself was not damaged.
At least 50 people were killed, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said, with more than 100 wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group that monitors the conflict, said at least 63 people were killed, including 25 pro-government Shiite fighters. It said the dead fighters included Syrians and foreigners.
The suburb is one of the first areas where Lebanon’s Hezbollah group sent fighters in 2012 to protect it from Sunni extremists who vowed to blow up the shrine. Hezbollah and Shiite groups from Iraq are known to have fighters in the area.
A website affiliated with the Islamic State group said the attacks were carried out by members of the Sunni Muslim extremist group, which controls large areas in both Syria and Iraq.
The bombings cast a shadow over the Geneva talks, the first U.N. effort since 2014 to try to end the conflict that has killed at least 250,000 people, forced millions to flee the country, and given an opening to IS militants to capture territory.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to both sides “to make the most of this moment, to seize the opportunity for serious negotiations, to negotiate in good faith with the goal of making concrete measurable progress in the days immediately ahead.”
“Now, while battlefield dynamics can affect negotiating leverage, in the end there is no military solution to this conflict,” Kerry said. “Without negotiations, the bloodshed will drag on until the last city is reduced to rubble and virtually every home, every form of infrastructure, and every semblance of civilization is destroyed.”
The talks got off to a rocky start Friday when U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura met only with a Syrian government delegation. The main opposition group, the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiations Committee or HNC, boycotted the session, saying it won’t take part until preliminary demands are met: the release of detainees, the end of the bombardment of civilians by Russian and Syrian forces, and the lifting of government blockades on rebel-held areas.
On Sunday, de Mistura paid an informal visit to the HNC delegation, saying he is “optimistic and determined” about the talks.
HNC spokesman Salem al-Mislet told The Associated Press that the violence against civilians must stop first, saying the U.N. Security Council should put “pressure on Russia to stop these crimes in Syria,” he said. Moscow, which began its airstrikes in Syria in September, is a major Assad ally, along with Iran.
But Bashar Ja’afari, the head of the Syrian delegation, criticized the opposition in remarks to reporters.
“Those who speak about preconditions are coming to this meeting in order to derail it,” he said. “With the opposition’s delegation not showing up, it shows that they are not serious and irresponsible at a time when Syrians are being killed.”
Tribune with additional report from MSN