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Militia attacks displaced children with machetes in war-ravaged DR Congo

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It’s difficult to imagine the circumstances in which a man could hack a two-year-old’s face with a machete or what would drive him to do it.

But Rochelle’s extreme youth didn’t spare her from the anger and rage of the militia who stormed her village in Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month.

Her face has a deep scar stretching across it, just missing her left eye and there is a wound on the top of her skull where her attacker had another go with his machete.

How she survived is a testament to the bravery of her father, Richard Mynei, who is standing protectively behind her as we meet them.

He had already seen his wife hacked to death in the village of Che where they lived.

It was pitch-dark and the family – like everyone in the village – had been asleep when the attackers stormed their community.


Mave, 11, ran away from two militiamen but they caught up and hacked at her head and neck



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Children attacked by men wielding machetes

In the mayhem and panic which followed, the men started slashing at his youngest child.

Richard intervened, fighting with the militia as they swung their machetes around, hacking at his head and his neck, slashing his lower back.

His eldest daughter Mave began running but two of the men managed to outrun the 11-year-old, chopping at the back of her head and neck and slicing her collar bone.

“They cut me like someone who was trying to kill a goat,” she tells us. “Then the second one came and just roughly cut my hand.

“These people are bad they just wanted to kill me.”

More than 4.5 millionhave fled their homes from fighting in the Congo
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More than 4.5 millionhave fled their homes from fighting in the Congo

She holds her left hand tenderly.

The limb below the elbow has gone.

The stump she has been left with is still a mass of stitches covered in purple medication to stop infection.

The only child left uninjured is four-year-old Francine who appears to be the mother figure for her little sister.

She lifts the toddler up onto her hip as Rochelle begins crying.

The Mynei family are joined by nearly ten thousand people who have fled fighting and are now living in a squalid camp in Bunia.

They live in a rickety shelter built with thin bamboo reeds and covered with plastic, part of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s growing number of internally displaced people scattered across the country.

Mave, 11, ran away from two militiamen but they caught up and hacked at her head and neck
Image:
Mave, 11, ran away from two militiamen but they caught up and hacked at her head and neck

DRC now has more 4.5 million who have fled their homes from fighting – the largest number on the African continent.

The terrified people talk about their homes being destroyed or set on fire.

They talk repeatedly of gangs of militia storming their communities armed with machetes, guns and arrows, driving them away.

The government line is that it is an old ethnic conflict between the Hema and Lendu tribes, but most suspect it is stoked by an unpopular and autocratic government led by President Joseph Kabila, who has exceeded his mandate and is now under growing international pressure to step down and hold elections.

The DRC authorities are getting increasingly impatient with the negative murmurings from outside the country about the worsening situation and the growing humanitarian crisis.

Nearly ten thousand people are living in a camp in Bunia after fleeing fighting
Image:
Nearly ten thousand people are living in a camp in Bunia after fleeing fighting

There have been angry outbursts from several ministers about how the international community is exaggerating the statistics to besmirch the name of the DRC.

The DRC government has already said it will be shunning an aid donor conference scheduled for 13 April, during which attempts are going to be made to raise millions in aid to help DRC’s starving.

For the Mynei family, the politics is beyond them.

They – like the estimated 13 million other people in need of help – are just trying to survive and Richard’s face is the picture of stunned misery.

Remarkably though, he still regards himself as lucky.

“I feel so bad,” he says, “But praise God, all my three daughters survived.”

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Breonna Taylor: Armed civilians are demonstrating their power in wake of decision over her killing | US News

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Louisville is a tinder box of rage and frustration.

Protesters have been taking to the streets for 121 nights since Breonna Taylor was killed.

This week the city has been in a state of emergency, roads closed and businesses barricades. Military personnel line the streets, armoured vehicles patrol the airport and protesters hold vigil at a square, waiting for curfew to fall before they march.

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There have been tense stand-offs in Louisville
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Protesters are armed and demonstrating their power

But there’s another group who’ve started to make their presence felt in the past few days – loaded with rifles and army fatigues they look like active military personnel.

But they are in fact a far-right group who call themselves the Oath Keepers, described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the US.

We find them in the car park of a hotel. There are about 30 of them and the protesters marching by are immediately aggravated by the sight of them.

The anti-government group insists they’ve been invited here by business owners. The founder, Stewart Rhodes tells me: “We’re here to protect businesses and apartments. We’re also here protecting residents.

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“We don’t want to say who they are or where they lived because they’re afraid. We’re protecting life and property.”

The crowd that’s started to form around them is clearly incensed.



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There are tense exchanges playing out everywhere as the two sides face off.

One member, George Douglas Smith Jr, tells me he won’t raise his gun unless damage is done. He said: “What they do in their organisation is fine. Unless they try to turn the buildings down.

“I made a solemn oath to the store owners that I won’t let that happen even if this crowd beats me downs and kill me.”

It is an austerely incongruous sight, but it’s become painfully commonplace in the pockets of tension around America that seemingly keep emerging. A nation where heavily armed civilians feel emboldened to demonstrate their power.

It constantly feels like the mood and risk can radically shift at any moment.

The protesters eventually make their way out of the car park, many encouraging each other not to rise to the bait.

For another two hours, they walk around Louisville. They eventually make their way to a church where they’re welcomed in and offered refreshments.

The police keep watch on the edge of the grounds. It is a far less disparate and chaotic scene than some of the skirmishes and arrests we witnessed the night before, when two officers were shot.

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But it’s a constant game of cat and mouse that’s hard to imagine any resolution to right now.

Twenty five minutes out of town, we meet neighbours of Breonna Taylor who were there the night she died. They’re incredulous at the grand jury’s decision not to charge any officers with her killing.

Deja Moore lives opposite Breonna’s apartment. She tells me there were gun shells all around her door and she could see Breonna’s body.

The attorney general said the police announced their presence. But Deja is emphatic that she and others didn’t hear it.



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She is exasperated at the lack of progress on racial justice in America, but defiant too.

“Honestly a change needs to come. Whether they like it or not it’s going to turn violent. We’re upset, angry, disappointed and if they won’t change it we will,” she said.

Quite what the change looks like in a country where it’s proved so illusive, is very unclear.

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Evel Knievel’s son sues Disney over Toy Story 4 character | Ents & Arts News

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Evel Knievel’s son is suing Disney over a daredevil character in the animated film Toy Story 4.

Kelly Knievel has held the publicity rights to his father’s name since 1998, according to his US District Court filing in Las Vegas.

The federal trademark infringement lawsuit claims that Disney-owned Pixar did not ask permission to use his father’s likeness when creating the character Duke Caboom.

American daredevil Evel Knievel (1938 - 2007) makes a motorcycle jump over thirteen AEC Merlin buses at Wembley Stadium in London, 26th May 1975. The stunt ended in a crash in which Knievel broke his pelvis. (Photo by Kypros/Getty Images)
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One of Evel Knievel’s most famous stunts was at Wembley Stadium in London in 1975

Knievel is seeking damages of more than $300,000 (£235,000) over allegations including false endorsement and unjust enrichment.

The 60-year-old said: “Evel Knievel did not thrill millions around the world, break his bones and spill his blood just so Disney could make a bunch of money.”

Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves in last year’s film, was a 1970s toy who rides a motorbike and is “Canada’s greatest stuntman”, the lawsuit said.

Knievel was famous for stunts such as a motorbike jump over a row of buses at Wembley Stadium.

He was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps, but died from lung disease in 2007.

An Evel Knievel toy was released in 1973 with a white helmet and jumpsuit, with a motorbike that could be propelled with a wind-up device.

Disney and Pixar released a similar Duke Caboom toy along with Toy Story 4.

The toy also featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Evel Knievel was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps
Image:
Evel Knievel was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps

The lawsuit claims consumers and film reviewers “universally caught on to the connection”, despite the film company and Reeves avoiding any comparison.

Jeffrey R Epstein, corporate spokesman for The Walt Disney Co, described Knievel’s claims as meritless, saying the film company will defend itself vigorously.

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North Korea troops shot dead South Korean official and burned his body, Seoul claims | UK News

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A South Korean government official was shot and killed by troops in North Korea who set his body on fire over fears he might be carrying coronavirus, officials in Seoul have claimed.

The South’s defence ministry said the 47-year-old government official had been killed and his corpse burned after disappearing from an inspection boat in waters off the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday.

South Korea‘s President Moon Jae-in called the killing a “shocking” and “unpardonable” act and demanded the North punish those responsible.

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South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called the killing a ‘shocking’ and ‘unpardonable’ act

North Korea sent staff in gas masks aboard a boat near the man to find out why he was there on Tuesday afternoon, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said.

Later in the day, a North Korean navy boat arrived and opened fire at him, they added.

Sailors from the boat, wearing gas masks and protective suits, then poured petrol on his body and set it on fire, the ministry said, citing intelligence gathered by surveillance equipment and other assets.

It is unclear what caused the official’s death and whether he died after being shot.

Citing intelligence sources, the South’s military said the unidentified man appeared to have been questioned at sea – north of the border and around 24 miles from where he went missing – before he was executed on an “order from a superior authority”.

If confirmed by the North’s officials, it would be the first time that North Korea has killed a South Korean citizen in its territory since 2008.

The South Korean government did not know how he came to have crossed the border, but a defence official said the man may have been trying to defect to the North.

The demilitarised zone separating North and South Korea
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The demilitarised zone separating North and South Korea

The official said the man was wearing a life jacket on a small floating object and that the military had obtained information that he wanted to go to North Korea.

“Our military strongly condemns such an atrocity, and strongly demands North Korea provide explanations and punish those who are responsible,” General Ahn Young-ho, who is in charge of operations at the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

Officials believe that military in Pyongyang may have decided to kill the man in line with stringent anti-coronavirus rules that involve shooting anyone illegally crossing the border.

North-South relations are expected to sour further as a result of the killing.

In June, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its territory in protest against South Korean civilians sending anti-North leaflets across the border.

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