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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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Leeds United 1-0 Brentford: Eddie Nketiah scores winner on home debut

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Eddie Nketiah’s goal was his second in two games in all competitions for Leeds

Eddie Nketiah scored on his Championship debut to earn Leeds United a late but deserved win at home to Brentford.

The 20-year-old, on loan from Arsenal, tapped in from Helder Costa’s square ball within four minutes of coming on as a substitute.

The hosts had the better of the game and victory gave them 10 points from a possible 12, seeing them top the early Championship table on goal difference.

For Brentford, the defeat was their second from their opening four league games and their first away from home, leaving them six points behind the strongest starters.

After a relatively quiet first half, Leeds applied significant pressure in the second and finally found a way past the visitors’ defence thanks to two of their substitutes.

Wolves loanee Costa – who was introduced with 25 minutes remaining – made a good run down the right and played the ball across perfectly for Nketiah to slot home in the middle.

The England Under-21 international, who joined Leeds on a season-long loan deal from the Gunners on transfer deadline day, also scored at Salford City in the Carabao Cup on his Leeds debut on 13 August.

His goal saw pace-setting Leeds add to their early-season away league wins over Bristol City and Wigan, as they claimed their first home victory of 2019-20 after drawing with Nottingham Forest.

The Bees’ best chance arguably fell to Said Benrahma in second-half stoppage time, but he blazed well over the bar after the ball had fallen nicely for him just outside the area.

Sweden centre-back Pontus Jansson – who scored for Leeds in this fixture at Elland Road last term – captained Brentford against his former club following his July move to Griffin Park for an undisclosed fee.

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Sharper teeth for Parliament’s financial watchdog committee as Scopa and SIU agree to work together

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Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday reached an agreement with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to refer various cases to the SIU for investigation.

Scopa is an important watchdog committee which oversees all state expenditure. 

The agreement has the potential to bolster the efforts of the SIU to recover funds lost to the state from corruption or irregular spending, much like the Special Tribunal established by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year.

Scopa spokesperson Faith Ndenze issued a statement on behalf of chairperson Mhluleko Hlengwa, welcoming the agreement.

“The committee and the SIU are currently developing modalities and operating procedures to regulate the process to be followed in such cases.

“Scopa believes that this move will strengthen accountability and consequence management, particularly as it occurs against the backdrop of the amendment of the Public Audit Act, which also seeks to strengthen accountability.

“As Scopa holds meetings with stakeholders, it will find spaces and areas of agreement in terms of what the committee can and cannot do,” the statement reads.

Fin24 reported on Wednesday on some of the successes and forthcoming efforts of the SIU. 

“…the Special Investigating Unit has filed a court application on behalf of Eskom to set aside the Tegeta Brakfontein coal supply agreement to the value of R2.7bn.”

In February, the Sunday Times reported that the SIU was investigating the alleged theft of R139bn from Eskom, related to the construction of the Medupi and Kusile power stations, reportedly part of a broader SIU investigation into the theft of about R170bn from the power utility.

The statement concludes that “having met yesterday with a principal partner, the Auditor-General, as well as the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) and the National Treasury, it is apparent that Scopa is laying a solid foundation for its work going forward”.

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Two pupils, one other male stab taxi driver to death in Sasolburg

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Two pupils, one other male stab taxi driver to death in Sasolburg


It’s believed the three attacked the driver during a ride to Zamdela on Wednesday afternoon.


Picture: Winnie Theletsane/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Two pupils and a 24-year-old man have allegedly stabbed and killed a taxi driver in Sasolburg, in the Free State.

It’s believed the three attacked the driver during a ride to Zamdela on Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the trio fled the scene after the fight, however, they were later arrested.

The police’s Josephine Rani said: “The learners are both 16 years old. They all caught a taxi around Zamdela and during their ride, they stabbed the driver who passed away on the scene.”


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