Violence escalates in SW Togo

A few reports have emerged that paint a dire picture of the escalating violence in south-west Togo. Particularly the mountainous area known as the Plateaux, roughly between Kpalimé, 80 miles/120KM north of Lomé, to Atakpamé, 110 miles/170KM north of Lomé. Thomas Hofnung at the French Libération spoke by phone with a reporter in the regional center Kpalimé, who describes atrocities committed by the military as well as by militant opposition supporters. He reports that a gendarmerie official in Adéta (north of Kpalimé) had been beheaded, and that five civilians were killed in retaliation.

Agbessi
told me last night that he called friends in that region, who confirm these reports and paint an even worse picture. They report that the military arrested teachers and clergy, and rounded up a number of kids at a High School. Several people he knows had to flee or hide, for fear they might be arrested.

The increasing level of violence in that part of the country, and the descriptions of the killings, lead me to believe that the local, traditional militias known as Asafo may have been mobilized. During the strike of 1990, these militias killed or chased out all government representatives in the area and took over. These guys are fascinating and scary. Even the soldiers are scared of them. The bloodshot eyes in the painted face of an “active” Asafo stare at you from a corner of the human soul that few of us can bear to face.

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