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Albino Teen Attacked for Her Body Parts

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Albino Teen Attacked for Her Body Parts

Bibiana Mashamba loves to dance, run and jump — all the attributes of a thriving teenager.

But at age 16, all that has taken a back seat as she struggles to walk following a merciless attack that nearly killed her.

“At 11 at night, some robbers came into our room,” Mashamba says, recalling the terrifying day six years ago near the city of Mwanza in her home country of Tanzania.

The robbers wanted something much more precious than jewels or electronics. They wanted the bones of the teen born with albinism.

Body parts of albinos are highly sought in some African countries, where some mistakenly believe they bring wealth and good luck. Attackers chop off limbs, pluck out organs and sell them to witchdoctors.

In Mashamba’s case, they got what they came for.

They hacked off her right leg, two fingers and tried to chop off her left leg but ran off before they could get through the bone.

Drugged before attack

Mashamba says she did not know what was happening at first. Whoever attacked her drugged her beforehand, while she slept.

She was sleeping in the same room as her sister and cousin, and the latter woke up to see the blood and the robbers. She screamed, and the adults dashed in.

“I was in the hospital for 10 months,” Mashamba says, her wide grin gone for the first time during the interview.

“It was so painful.”

‘The work of the devil’

The teen may not know who attacked her, but she knows why.

She was hunted down and chopped up because of her skin color. Her stark white skin and blond hair attract the worst kind of attention in her home country.

The belief propagated by witchdoctors that the bones of people with albinism are magic and will make you rich has spread across parts of East Africa.

“Those witchdoctors who are telling them to come and chop our limbs, they are liars,” she says. “How can someone get rich off my bones? I am not rich and they are my bones. This is the work of the devil.”

In the United States, about one in 20,000 people have some type of albinism. But in some East African countries such as Tanzania, the number can be as high as one in 1,500.

‘Stunningly vicious’

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says this year, people with albinism have experienced a surge in violent attacks in East Africa.

“These attacks are often stunningly vicious, with children in particular being targeted,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says in a statement.

“As a result, many people with albinism are living in abject fear. Some no longer dare to go outside, and children with albinism have stopped attending school because of the recent spate of assaults, murders and kidnappings.”

Mashamba and her sister, Tindi, know that by experience. They have endured taunting all their lives for being albinos.

The two lived with their aunt and uncle, who took them in after their sick parents died. But after they were discharged from hospital following the attacks, they decided it was not safe to live with them anymore.

“If I go back again to our village again, they could maybe kill me,” Mashamba says.

Tanzanian politician Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer heard their story and took them in. Kway-Geer, the first albino to hold office in the country, became their new caretaker.

Archaic prosthesis

While Mashamba had a safe place to live in Dar es Salaam, her life was far from what she had envisioned.

The prosthesis she was given was archaic. Dancing, running and jumping were impossible. Even walking to school became painful. At times, she would slip and fall while going up a hill. Beyond anything, she wanted to be able to learn.

“I enjoy math, I enjoy science, I enjoy English. I enjoy history. I enjoy everything,” she says.

At 16, she got yet another surprise that would change her life.

Strangers step in

The African Millennium Foundation run by Malena Ruth offered to pay for the two sisters to come to the United States so Mashamba would get the best care and technology available to amputees.

“She taught me so much. She taught me what courage is, what dignity is,” Ruth says with tears in her eyes.

Ruth has become the girls’ guardian as Mashamba goes through physical therapy with the new prosthesis she received at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles.

“It was a horrible tragedy no child should have to know — their house raided and your body parts removed,” she says.

“And unfortunately, this tragedy kind of extended beyond that horrible night in that she had some individuals that were really interested in helping her but there wasn’t the ability to kind of do the coordinated care that she really needed,” says Dr. Anthony Scaduto with the institute.

With her upgraded prosthesis and physical therapy, Mashamba can enjoy some of the physical freedoms she longed for.

The sisters are determined to use their past trauma to shape their future.

“I want to be a doctor so I can heal other children’s bones,” a smiling Mashamba says.

Tindi, who can’t bear to see the suffering her sister endured, has a different plan.

“I want to be a judge in my country so that I can punish people who hurt others,” she says.

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International

Syria al-Qaeda Leader Attacked, Unsure of His Survival

An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

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An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

Syrian opposition forces, the Local Co-ordination Committees, posted a photo of the car which was targeted for the attack, as stated by them.

Car with roof shattered is shown in photo taken from Syrian opposition activists

The car, in the town of al-Mastuma, was targeted by “international coalition aircraft”, the group said.

Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an al-Qaeda official was killed in a strike, but did not confirm it was Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

The Egyptian, whose real name is Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman, was reportedly released from custody by Iran in 2015 as part of a prisoner swap.

Last year, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was reported to have given his blessing to a decision by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, to cut formal ties with the global jihadist network.

The Syrian jihadist with ties broken with al-Qaeda had renamed its name to Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, as reported by CNN.

According to Ahmad Hasan Abu al Khayr al-Masri, al-Qaeda has embraced the split. The man Masri would replace as an upranking to No. 2 of the leadership position in the terror group, is al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri expressed his opinion on the split in a supportive manner and called for infighting between jihadist groups to end.

Although Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was no longer linked to an external entity, the U.S. still kept it on its list of foreign terrorist groups and continued to target air strikes.

Therefore, in January, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham dissolved itself and formed an alliance with four smaller Syrian jihadist groups called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The move seemed to deem an attempt by the group to distance itself from al-Qaeda.

Tahrir al-Sham as since then fought rebel groups for control of the Idlib province in Syria, implying that it was them who had instigated suicide bombs on Saturday against the military in the government-controlled city of Homs.

Although the death of Abu al-Khayr al-Masri is uncertain, the Guardian has stated that he has been killed based off of what jihadists are stating.

The immediate circumstances of Masri’s death were unclear. Video online showed a tan four-door Kia sedan destroyed at a roadside with a large hole in its canopy but its windscreen mostly intact. The location of the attack was unusually far west for a US drone strike.

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International

Honor Killings are Never Justifiable, Not Ever or Anywhere!

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I have decided to shed some light on some insights about honor killings, amidst one that occurred in my parents’ home country, Pakistan, yesterday. An upcoming supermodel by the name of Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother in Multan, Paksitan while her parents were in their bedroom, asleep. The model was allegedly there to visit family or for other reasons. The brother who strangled her to death, reportedly after he drugged her, was interviewed and showed no remorse for his wrongdoing. Of course, what he did is inexcusable in all ways and is unsurpassable as a violation and a wrongdoing!

Baloch’s brother, who took her life, was embarrassed by his sister’s career as a supermodel and was aghast at her actions in this profession. This, however, can never justify the fact that he felt he had to end her life. Not only in this culture, mostly and especially in Pakistan’s rural areas, is this prevalent. It happens in other areas of the world and this is not attributable to Pakistanis or any type of Muslim or the religion itself, Islam. Anyway, surely you can recall the incident that was reported on television a few years ago. A man killed his daughter by running her over with a car, as well as her attempts to kill her boyfriend and his mother. He killed her because she had a boyfriend.

Oppressing women is not taught in any culture or religion, and is inexcusable in any way. A woman has the right to live however she pleases, at least I genuinely believe in this, and she should not have to fear for her life.

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Breaking News

Turkish Military Attempts to Overthrow President

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted to the nation Saturday that his government is in charge following a coup attempt brought a night of explosions, air battles, gunfire and unrest across the capital and left at least 90 dead, 1,154 people wounded and more than 1,000 military personnel detained.

In a press conference at Ataturk Airport, Erdogan said the architects of the coup attempt would “pay a heavy price” and vowed he would “not surrender this country to intruders.”

A senior Turkish official told the Associated Press that 1,563 military personnel have been detained in the coup attempt.

A Turkish lawmaker contacted by Reuters said he and his colleagues were hiding in special shelters in the bowels of the parliament building after at least three explosions near the complex in the capital, Ankara. Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman told the Associated Press a bomb hit one corner of a public relations building inside the parliament complex, injuring some police officers.

Elsewhere, troops also fired in the air to disperse a growing crowd of government supporters at the Taksim monument in Istanbul as military helicopters flew overhead. A nearby mosque made an anti-coup announcement over its loudspeakers.

Erdogan insisted that the coup attempt wouldn’t succeed.

“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge,” he said. “This government brought to power by the people, is in charge. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything.”

In his TV address, Erdogan blamed the attack on supporters of Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan has long accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government. The cleric lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Turkey’s allies, fellow NATO member nations and world leaders swiftly reacted Friday to an attempted coup Friday night, which could spur immense implications, not only in the Middle East, but also in the West.

“The United States views with gravest concern events unfolding in Turkey,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.

He said the State Department was “monitoring a fluid situation,” and “emphasized the United States’ absolute support for Turkey’s democratically-elected, civilian government and democratic institutions.”

The U.S. State Department urged U.S. citizens in Turkey to shelter in place during the attempted coup.

President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation. “The president and secretary agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” a White House statement said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet that he spoke with the Turkish foreign minister. “I call for calm, restraint & full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and constitution,” Stoltenberg wrote, without saying what actions, if any, NATO would take. Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm as the world body sought to clarify the situation, said a U.N. spokesman.

“The Secretary-General is closely following developments in Turkey. He is aware of the reports of a coup attempt in the country. The United Nations is seeking to clarify the situation on the ground and appeals for calm,” said spokesman Farhan Haq.

Britain’s government was also monitoring the turmoil. “We are concerned by events unfolding in Ankara and Istanbul. Our Embassy is monitoring the situation closely,” a British foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also said he was “very concerned.”

The foreign minister of Turkey’s neighbor to the east said he was “deeply concerned about the crisis in Turkey.”

“Stability, democracy & safety of Turkish people are paramount. Unity & prudence are imperative,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet.

Slovakia, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, said on Saturday it was following the events unfolding in Turkey with serious concern, and was coordinating appropriate reaction with EU partners.

“Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has been in intensive contact all evening with EU high foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini and other European colleagues,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“He has also been in contact with partners in the Turkish government with the aim to clarify the situation in Turkey and discuss steps that the EU should take with the aim to maintain and support democracy and stability in the country.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was “in constant contact with EU delegation in Ankara and Brussels from Mongolia.” She called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions.”

The Kremlin said it was gravely concerned. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that President Vladimir Putin was being kept constantly updated on the situation in Turkey.

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