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Clashes in Peru coca eradication operation leave at least two dead

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LIMA (Reuters) – Two farmers were killed in clashes in Peru that erupted on Friday as authorities launched an operation to uproot coca plants – used to make cocaine – in a region near the border with Bolivia, a local mayor and the police said.

A third person was in critical condition and had been taken to a local hospital, said Roger Larico, the mayor of the district of San Gaban in the region of Puno.

The eradication team – 158 civilian workers and 72 police officers – had arrived to San Gaban before dawn to destroy illegal coca farms in the coming days, but were attacked by people wielding machetes and sticks as they sat up their camp, the Peruvian National Police said in a statement.

But Larico said witnesses told him that the police had fired live bullets recklessly.

“They were shooting right and left. That’s why we have this bloodshed,” Larico told Reuters by phone.

The deaths are under investigation, said Victor Rucoba, the head of the government’s eradication agency.

“It’s very likely that to protect their lives and the lives of unarmed civilians, police had to increase the use of force,” he added in comments broadcast on local TV channel Canal N.

The unrest underscores the risks of forcibly eradicating illegal coca, a crop that tends to fetch a much higher price in Peru than alternatives such as coffee and cacao. It comes a day before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the Andean country in a four-country tour of South America.

Peru has been one of the leading producer countries of cocaine for decades, despite efforts by consecutive governments to capture drug traffickers and shift farmers toward alternative crops from coca.

But in recent years, illegal coca farms in Peru have expanded.

The U.S. government said in November that Peru’s potential cocaine production had risen 20 percent to a 25-year high of 491 tonnes.

Police reinforcements were being sent to San Gaban to ensure the eradication team could work in the days ahead, said Rucoba, adding that coca cultivation had expanded “exponentially” in the area.

In a 2017 report, Peru’s anti-narcotics agency Devida said coca growers from the country’s most notorious drug-trafficking region, the VRAEM, had been migrating to Puno to start new farms. The coca produced in San Gaban is part of a supply chain that moves cocaine into Brazil through Bolivia, it added.

Peru plans to eradicate about 25,000 hectares (61,776 acres) of illegal coca crops per year through 2021, according to the country’s anti-narcotics plan.

Coca is also grown legally in Peru, where it is widely used as an infusion as well as in traditional indigenous rituals.

Reporting by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino, editing by G Crosse

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All Blacks prop swaps Highlanders for Hurricanes

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2019-06-17 12:14

Cape Town – Rising young New Zealand tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax has
signed a four-year contract with the Hurricanes through until at least
2023.

Lomax, who has strong ties to Wellington with extended
family living in Wainuiomata, will join the ‘Canes from the Highlanders
ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby competition.

After making his Super Rugby debut for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017,
the 23-year-old joined Tasman in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup and quickly
established himself as first choice tighthead which earned selection in
the Highlanders Super Rugby squad in 2018.

He was selected in the All Blacks last November where he made his
debut against Japan after a number of strong performances in Super
Rugby.

Lomax also impressed for the Maori All Blacks when he represented the side on its end of year tour of Canada and France in 2017.

Head coach John Plumtree was naturally delighted to have secured Lomax on a long-term deal.

“His potential is obvious for everyone to see. He’s a very impressive
young man who is developing his game at a rapid rate. He is a powerful
player, has a strong skill set and we are really excited about working
with him,” he said.

“It’s great to be able to bring Tyrel back to the Wellington region
where we know he will receive a lot of support and quickly establish
himself in the Hurricanes club.”

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WRAP: U20 World Championship | Sport24

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Cape Town – Dates, kick-off times and results for the playoff and semi-finals of World Rugby U20 Championship.

MONDAY, JUNE 17

9th-place
Semi-final 1: Scotland v Italy – 15:30            

5th-place Semi-final 1: New Zealand v Wales – 15:30
           

9th-place Semi-final 2: Georgia v Fiji – 18:00           

Semi-final 1: Argentina v Australia – 18:00           

5th-place Semi-final 2: Ireland v England – 20:30            

Semi-final 2: South Africa v France – 20:30


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Phoenix mayor apologises after US police threaten to shoot black family

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Police officers confront a woman holding a babyImage copyright
CBS

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The mayor of Phoenix has apologised over the video

The mayor of the US city of Phoenix has apologised after a video allegedly showing police threatening to shoot a black family went viral.

Officers were responding to an alleged shoplifting incident last month when the video was recorded.

The parents claim they did not notice that their four-year-old daughter had taken a doll from a Dollar Store.

Mayor Kate Gallego said the officers’ actions were “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional”.

In the video, officers can be seen shouting at the family to get out of their vehicle before threatening to shoot them.

A woman, Iesha Harper, can then be seen emerging from the car with two young children. The children are handed to a bystander and Ms Harper is arrested.

The footage also shows another man, Dravon Ames, being kicked in the legs as he is handcuffed by an officer.

Ms Gallego said in a statement: “There is no situation in which this behaviour is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.

“I am deeply sorry for what this family went through and I apologise to our community.”

She said that the city was speeding up the implementation of body-worn cameras. A community meeting about the incident will also be held on Tuesday.

Ms Harper, who is pregnant, told CNN: “I really thought he was going to shoot me in front of the kids.”

She said that she gave her two children to a bystander as she “didn’t trust the police”.

Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams said on local news that she was “sorry this incident happened” and that it was being investigated.

The officers involved have been assigned desk duty while the investigation takes place.

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