News in the Humanosphere: Sudan is using chemical weapons in Darfur, Amnesty says

A woman rides a donkey past a convoy of government troops, on a government organized media tour, in Tabit village in the North Darfur region of Sudan. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Sudanese government forces have used chemical weapons repeatedly against civilians, including babies and young children, in one of the most remote regions of Darfur over the past eight months, according to allegations documented by Amnesty International. The alleged chemical attacks, believed to have killed up to 250 people, mostly children, represent a “new low” in the catalog of serious abuses perpetrated by government forces in the region, said the human rights group. The most recent of the alleged offensives recorded by the investigation occurred on Sept. 9. The attacks are ongoing, said Amnesty. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2d7QgRF)

Major escalation in Kashmir…India’s army says it has carried out “surgical strikes” against suspected militants along the de-facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir. The operation was aimed at preventing attacks being planned by Pakistan-based militants, a senior army official said. He said “significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them.” Pakistan denies India carried out any strikes and says two of its soldiers were killed in cross-border shelling. “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists’ bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects,” the Pakistani military said in a statement. Pakistan said its soldiers died in “unprovoked” firing along the Line of Control dividing the disputed region.” (BBC http://bbc.in/2doftJ9)

Africa

The United States clamped sanctions on a Democratic Republic of the Congo general and a former senior police official in an apparent ratcheting up of pressure on President Joseph Kabila to hold an election for his successor in November. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2d7VEUN)

The U.S. ambassador to Mali has accused the government of maintaining relations with a militia widely blamed for rising tensions that risk undermining a fragile peace process in the country’s desert north. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2dd4IqV)

As many as 75,000 children will die over the next year in famine-like conditions created by Boko Haram if donors don’t respond quickly, the U.N. Children’s Fund is warning. That’s far more than the 20,000 people killed in the seven-year Islamic uprising. (AP http://yhoo.it/2d80VMo)

A Nigerian militant group claimed on Thursday an attack on a crude pipeline operated by state oil firm NNPC in the restive Niger Delta, a statement said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2d80xgS)

On a Sunday morning in September three young women were killed by officers at the main police station in Kenya’s second city – but that’s the only fact beyond doubt in a case that activists say is further evidence of a police force gone rogue. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmS7U5)

MENA

The United States is close to suspending talks with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, as the Kremlin vowed to press on with an assault on the city of Aleppo. (Reuters http://reut.rs/2dohvZB)

A long list of world leaders will attend the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres today. He died on Wednesday at 93. (BBC http://bbc.in/2dohNj1)

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday declined to set up an independent inquiry into abuses in Yemen, instead calling on a national inquiry to investigate violations by all sides, including the killing of civilians and attacks on hospitals. (Reuters http://reut.rs/2dol2a8)

Asia

Thousands of Indonesian union workers marched to the heart of Jakarta on Thursday to protest against a government tax amnesty scheme, which is meant to plug a large budget deficit but which they say unfairly pardons wealthy tax dodgers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dmWVc2)

Reporters Without Borders condemned a decision by an Iranian appeals court to uphold a 10-year jail sentence against journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dd9THp)

Security forces in Bangladesh are deliberately shooting members and supporters of opposition parties in the leg, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Thursday that compared the acts to “kneecappings” once meted out by the Irish Republican Army. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dwzZZi)

Afghanistan’s unity government is expected to remain in place despite the formal expiration on Thursday of the U.S.-brokered deal between two electoral rivals whose internal feuding has undermined efforts to battle the Taliban and stabilize the country. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dcYiYN)

Patients are packing hospitals across New Delhi because of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral illness. In the Indian capital alone, cases of chikungunya soared to 3,251 so far this year from just 64 last year, according to government data. Last year it was dengue, another viral ailment transmitted by mosquitoes, that infected thousands. (AP http://yhoo.it/2d9lSK4)

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani formalized a controversial accord with one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords on Wednesday, a deal the government hopes will lead to more peace agreements. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtSmdp)

An Iranian citizen extradited from Indonesia was charged in a Sydney court on Thursday with attempting to smuggle 73 asylum seekers by boat to Australia. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dmRv0C)

An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced to death the leader of a gang of men and boys who raped and murdered a schoolgirl in a case that prompted the president to take steps to impose harsher punishments for attacks on children. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dmROJ1)

Thailand is cracking down on migrant workers from neighboring countries, saying they are “stealing jobs from Thais,” amid fears that anti-immigrant sentiment is rising as Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy stagnates. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dGbKqV)

The Americas

The gunning down in broad daylight of a Rio city council candidate ahead of nationwide municipal elections is stoking fears that Brazil’s already toxic politics are headed into dangerous new territory. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dGe8xF)

Under a newly signed peace deal to end Colombia’s war, women who have been raped by military forces or rebel fighters may expect to have the crimes against them investigated by a special unit. (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/2daqfQW)

The U.S. Congress passed a spending bill and staved off a government shutdown, after reaching agreement on funding for a tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich., that had bedeviled earlier proposals. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dwIumW)

Colombia’s second-largest rebel group has said it is ready to begin formal peace talks with the government, days after a historic peace deal was signed with the country’s largest rebel group. (BBC http://bbc.in/2dtSyJy)

Infrastructure projects designed to open the western Amazon for investment are to blame for deforestation in parts of Peru, Colombia and Bolivia — not coca production, researchers. (VOA http://bit.ly/2d9ktD9)

Colombia’s peace deal with the Marxist FARC rebel group will bring more investment to the country, backed partly by new donor aid and loans from multilateral development banks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and his Colombian counterpart said. (VOA http://bit.ly/2dtKmJa)

…and the rest

The Paris Agreement on climate change appears likely to enter into force with India announcing that it has ratified the agreement and the EU signaling it may ratify within the next few days, officials said. (AP http://yhoo.it/2d7PzIf)

Opinion/Blogs

The Heroes of Syria (Global Dispatches Podcast http://buff.ly/2dnFMis)

Jargon detection in international development (Econ that Matters http://buff.ly/2duuINQ)

One Year On, Water Crisis Stays Personal for Flint Foundation Leader (Tiny Spark http://buff.ly/2dxts0k)

The perils of quantifying corruption (Devpolicy http://buff.ly/2d8Lvan)

How should Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan spend $3B to end disease? (Devex http://buff.ly/2dagLt0)

Has Algeria taken an anti-IS vaccine? (IRIN http://buff.ly/2duwxKy)

Why Is No One Punished For Attacks On Aid Workers? (Goats and Soda http://buff.ly/2dnHpwJ)

What next for Zimbabwe? (Africa is a Country http://buff.ly/2cYSfpx)

Why is it so hard for academics and NGOs to work together? (From Poverty to Power http://buff.ly/2dnHwIq)

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