An “atrocity” where “the destruction is colossal” is how the bombing site of a Ukrainian children’s hospital is being described by authorities. Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of bombing the hospital in Mariupol during an agreed ceasefire. The ceasefire was supposed to allow civilians a moment to escape the war.
“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter. “Russia had said it would hold fire to let thousands of civilians flee Mariupol and other besieged cities on Wednesday. But the city council said the hospital had been hit several times by an air strike” reports Reuters.
“The destruction is colossal,” said the city council in an online post. President Volodymyr Zelensky called it an “atrocity”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Reuters for comment on the reported bombing, said: “Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets.”
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry posted video footage of what it said was the hospital showing holes where windows should have been in a three-story building. 17 people were wounded, including women in labor. Reuters said the reports could not immediately be verified.
Earlier Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had broken the ceasefire around the southern port, which lies between Russian-backed separatist areas of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014.
“Russia continues holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues,” he wrote on Twitter. “Almost 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food.”
Ukraine officials have also said that at least 1,170 civilians had been killed in Mariupol since the start of the invasion. A gruesome 47 people were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday. It was not possible to verify the figures, reported Reuters.
Russia’s defence ministry blamed Ukraine for the failure of the evacuation and said that the situation faced by civilians in Mariupol had reached a “catastrophic scale”. A senior U.S. defence official said there were indications Russia’s military was using so-called “dumb” bombs that are not precision-guided and that Washington had observed “increasing damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties”.
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Trusted Mexican official on trial for working with Narcos
As reporters clambered for a spot in Brooklyn federal court house, federal prosecutors laid out their opening arguments Monday against a top Mexican official, Genaro Garcia Luna, who was once a trusted ally of the United States in its continuing fight against Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels.
Luna, 54, who headed the Mexican Federal Police, was considered one of the few state officials brought into the circle of trust by U.S. intelligence and narcotics officials targeting the Sinaloa and Beltran Levy cartels.
What U.S. officials didn’t know at the time is that their ally was believed to be making millions of dollars aiding and abetting the cartels. He led Mexico’s Federal Investigative Agency from 2001 to 2005. It wasn’t until 2006, that he was named the secretary of public security, putting him in charge of the Mexican Federal Police.
Luna, is being accused by prosectors for providing direct aide to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – former head of the Sinaloa Cartel – and the leaders of the Beltran Levy cartel, which is responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars in cocaine and other illicit narcotics into the United States. He is also suspected to of being behind the killing of a top DEA informant that worked closely with U.S. officials.
Charging these officials in the United States sends a clear message to the cartels but it also exposes how vulnerable our nation is to the growing power of the narco-terrorist organizations, said Derek Maltz, who headed DEA’s Special Operations.
“There is wide spread systemic corruption in Mexico and Central America that enables the cartels to operate with impunity,” said Maltz. “Unfortunately, American families and communities are suffering and historic numbers of young citizens are dying from the deadly drugs. I look forward to hearing the dramatic testimony that will expose the “triple agent” to the world. Maybe then will the American citizens recognize the level of the threat to our citizens.”
Maltz pointed out that the Eastern District of New York Prosecutors “had the courage to expose this nightmare to the world just like they did with El Chapo. These ruthless Narco terrorists need to be held accountable and gave Justice.”
Maltz also warned that it is “corrupt officials like Luna help the Mexican Terror Cartels daily by providing sensitive information and creating safe routes for the deadly drugs to be imported into the US. They get huge rewards and live the rock star high lives are our families suffer. I applaud the law enforcement officials and US Attorney and Assistants who recognized the importance of exposing the truth to the public. ”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Pilmar said, according to reports that Luna “kept taking dirty money and cocaine kept flowing into the United States…Because he controlled the country’s entire police force, the defendant thought he was above the law … No one is above the law.”
Luna’s connection to the death of a DEA informant is described in detail in a report on The Intercept:
García Luna’s alleged role in the DEA informant’s death came to light during the sentencing of another Mexican security official accused of crimes in the U.S.: Ivan Reyes Arzate, also known as “La Reina.”
According to over 200 pages of court records, La Reina was a Federal Police officer from 2003 to 2016. He rose through the ranks and in 2008, was promoted to commander of the Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit, also known as the SIU. La Reina’s top boss, as with all Federal Police officials, was the secretary of public security, García Luna.
The SIU was the premier Federal Police unit working with the DEA in Mexico — or it was supposed to be, having been specially created for that purpose. All SIU members, including La Reina, received special training from the DEA in Quantico, Virginia. The DEA relied on the SIU for operations, surveillance, and high-profile arrests.
“We have very special or specific people that we work with who we have tried to vet and make sure that we can trust them,” one DEA agent said in court, “because of the corruption that we know sometimes exists in those other countries and around the world.”
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