Top of the Morning: Shi’ite Pilgrims Targeted in Iraq; Worrying Human Rights Abuses in CAR; Peace Talks Resume in DR Congo

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Worrying Signs of Human Rights Abuses in Central African Republic

With rebels controlling much of the country and conflict with the government heightened, human rights abuses are a growing concern. “In a statement, the RONGDH network of rights groups said it ‘condemns the abuses committed in towns occupied by the Seleka (rebel) coalition, the looting of public and private property, the systematic disruption of communications in the said towns and cases of physical and sexual violence against the civilian population’. The groups also condemned government loyalists for setting up ‘illegal barricades’ and ‘distributing knives and firearms in certain neighbourhoods of Bangui’, the capital, and accused the authorities of making arbitrary arrests.” (AFP

Plus: UNICEF expresses concern that rebels and pro-government forces are recruiting child soldiers. (WaPo

Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens of Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq

Another worrisome episode of sectarian violence in Iraq. “A suicide bomber driving a car killed at least 27 Shi’ite Muslims at a bus station in the Iraqi town of Mussayab on Thursday, police and medics said, as they were gathering to return home from a religious rite. The attack, which also wounded at least 60, underlines sectarian tensions that threaten to further destabilize the country a year after U.S. troops left. (Reuters

DR Congo Peace Talks Resume Today

It’s unclear whether or not this newest round will be productive. “A spokesman for Uganda’s government says talks between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 group are scheduled to resume Friday, despite threats by the rebels to pull out. The talks would be held in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Spokesman Fred Opolot says Uganda’s defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, will be mediating in the talks and is working closely with the two sides to help resolve some of their differences before they start. “The regional bloc has been working extremely hard to ensure that both parties come to the table…for the peaceful resolution as far as the conflict in the eastern DRC is concerned,” said Opolot. The talks were suspended over the December holidays. Opolot says representatives of the government and the rebels unanimously agreed on the rules and procedure and agenda for the talks.” (VOA