World News (March 1, 2021)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report that instantly ratcheted up pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew worldwide outrage.

The intelligence findings were long known to many U.S. officials and, even as they remained classified, had been reported with varying degrees of precision. But the public rebuke of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is still a touchstone in U.S-Saudi relations. It leaves no doubt that as the prince continues in his powerful role and likely ascends to the throne, Americans will forever associate him with the brutal killing of a journalist who promoted democracy and human rights.

Yet even as the Biden administration released the findings, it appeared determined to preserve the Saudi relationship by avoiding direct punishment of the prince himself despite demands from some congressional Democrats and Khashoggi allies for significant and targeted sanctions.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Soldiers from Eritrea systematically killed “many hundreds” of people, the large majority men, in a massacre late November in the Ethiopian city of Axum in the Tigray region, Amnesty International said Friday. The new report echoed the findings of an Associated Press story last week and cited more than 40 witnesses.

As pressure on Ethiopia increased over what might be the deadliest massacre of the Tigray conflict, the prime minister’s office announced that “humanitarian agencies have now been provided unfettered access to aid in the region.” It added that the government “welcomes international technical assistance to undertake the investigations (into alleged abuses) as well as invites the potential to collaborate on joint investigations.”

And yet the government alleged the Amnesty report relied on “scanty information,” and said the human rights group should have visited the Tigray region. Amnesty said it requested permission from the government in December and never received a response.

“As you know, no independent human rights monitors have been allowed in the region since the conflict began,” spokesman Conor Fortune said in an email to the AP.

Crucially, the head of the government-established Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Daniel Bekele, says the Amnesty findings “should be taken very seriously.” The commission’s own preliminary findings “indicate the killing of an as yet unknown number of civilians by Eritrean soldiers” in Axum, its statement said.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian authorities announced Friday that more than 400 inmates escaped and 25 people died in a prison breakout, making it the country’s largest and deadliest one in a decade, with the prison director and a powerful gang leader among those killed.

Some believe the jailbreak at the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison in northeast Port-au-Prince was to free gang leader Arnel Joseph, who had been Haiti’s most wanted fugitive until his 2019 arrest on charges including rape, kidnapping and murder.

Joseph was riding on a motorcycle through the Artibonite area in the town of L’Estère on Friday a day after his escape when he was spotted at a checkpoint, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told The Associated Press. He said Joseph pulled out a gun and died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Joseph ruled Village de Dieu, or Village of God, a shantytown in downtown Port-au-Prince, and other communities, including some in Artibonite, which is Haiti’s largest department.

Authorities have not yet provided much details on the breakout except to say that 60 inmates have been recaptured and the investigation is ongoing. State Secretary Frantz Exantus said authorities have created several commissions to investigate who organized the breakout and why. Among those killed was the prison director, identified as Paul Joseph Hector.

Residents who declined to be identified because they feared for their life told the AP that they saw gunmen shoot at prison guards before inmates escaped from the Croix-des-Bouquets penitentiary.

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