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15 shot dead in New Year’s Day attack on worshippers

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Gunmen attack Imo Police Command, Correctional Centre, free inmates

…At least nine killed in new year Brazil Prison riot***

A Man, his wife, five children and eight others were killed yesterday in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Over 52 persons, who were also injured in the New Year’s Day attack by some gunmen, were in critical condition in hospitals.

The victims had just concluded a service in an unnamed church when the gunmen opened fire on them.

The bodies of the 15 victims, as at press time, were still at the pavilion of the secretariat of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Council in Omoku, their relatives and friends making efforts to identify them.

The rampaging gunmen were suspected to be militants working for a man the military described as “a notorious kidnapper, militant, cultist, ardent illegal oil bunkerer”, Mr. Igwedibia Johnson, aka Don Waney, who is on the run, following the raid of his camp and shrines on November 20, last year, as part of 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt’s continued efforts to rid the Niger Delta of criminals.

In Southern Kaduna yesterday, a ruler Mallam Gambu Makama and his wife were gun down by mask-wearing gunmen in their home after midnight.

Crude oil and gas-rich Omoku hosts the Federal College of Education (FCE) Technical, many multinational oil firms, oil servicing companies and other establishments, but most of the commercial banks in the ancient town have been closed for months, in view of insecurity, without the hope of the bankers returning to the city.

An indigene of Omoku, who yesterday gave details of how the 15 worshippers were gunned down but would not want his name in print, to avoid his being trailed by the criminals, said as the Christians were leaving their various churches on January 1, the gunmen were spraying them with bullets at close range.

The source said: “Since 2014, when the crisis started in Omoku and its environs, over 500, mostly innocent people, have been killed.

“I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nyesom Wike to take immediate action to secure the lives and property of residents of Omoku and its environs, especially with the forthcoming primaries of political parties and general elections.

“We do not deserve the killings in Omoku and its environs. We are not in a state of war. Don Waney’s boys have regrouped and are terrorising innocent citizens. Over 52 wounded victims of New Year Day attack in Omoku are now in various hospitals and clinics.”

Police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said he was yet to get details of the New Year’s Day’s incident from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Omoku.

Omoni said immediately he got information about the killings in Omoku, he contacted the DPO, who promised to get back to him, but yet to do so, as at press time.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside has lamented the killings  in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State by unidentified gunmen shortly after attending New Year’s Eve service.

Dr Peterside sympathised with the families of the deceased, saying its another set of deaths too many in a local government area that was held hostage by cult groups claiming supremacy and allegedly enjoying support from some politicians.

He expressed regret that while other parts of the state were in celebratory mood, the people of ONELGA were mourning the passing away of their beloved in the most gruesome manner.

”My heart goes the people of ONELGA and the immediate families of the deceased. This is an act that must be condemned. The good people of Omoku have suffered enough and this has dealt a further blow on their sufferings,” he stressed.

The NIMASA boss stated that the latest killings have exposed the lack of capacity and competence on the part of Governor Nyesom Wike to provide adequate security for Rivers people.

”I have said it time and again that Governor Wike lacks the capacity and competence to guarantee the safety and security of Rivers people. It is unfortunate that over 1,000 persons have been killed in questionable circumstances in the last two years under his watch. He should stop playing politics with the lives of Rivers people and face governance.

”Since the governor is not rising to the occasion to show competence, we will henceforth partner with all relevant security agencies to bring peace, law and order to ONELGA and other parts of Rivers State.

”This is indeed a sad day for the people of ONELGA and the only way we can assuage their feelings is to ensure that this does not happen again. Governor Wike can rise above his partisan politics and display the hallmark of a statesman by openly condemning this murderous act and stop at nothing to arrest the criminals,” he said.

In the meantime, Police in Brazil say at least nine prisoners have been killed in a riot at a jail in the central state of Goias.

The authorities say the riot began when a group of armed inmates invaded a wing controlled by a rival gang. One of the victims was decapitated.

After a shootout, more than 100 members of both factions escaped. Police say they have managed to regain control.

Riots are common in Brazilian prisons, which are notoriously overcrowded and understaffed.

The riot began in the afternoon of New Year’s Day at the rural penitentiary in the outskirts of the state capital, Goiania.

Rival criminal factions clashed, broke the barriers of the compound and escaped.

Riot police quickly suppressed the rebellion.

Some 30 inmates have been re-arrested. But nearly 80 prisoners remain at large. At least 14 prisoners were injured.

“It was a clash between prisoners and it is all under control now,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hrillner Braga Ananias.

Relatives have been outside the compound in Aparecida de Goiania since Monday afternoon.

“My brother is inside and I don’t have any information about him,” Luana Cristina told O Popular newspaper.

“No-one tells us anything. No-one tells us who is dead, who is alive, who was shot,” she added.

The head of Aspego, the state of Goias prison warders association, Jorimar Bastos, told Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper that only five prison officers were on duty on New Year’s Day.

They were in charge of some 900 inmates, he said.

Nation with additional report from BBC

Foreign News

29 Killed In Southern Brazil’s Worst Storms

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29 Killed In Southern Brazil’s Worst Storms

Four consecutive days of intense rainfall, floods, and mudslides that hit Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sulworst released the worst storms that killed 29 people and left 60 others missing, Governor Eduardo Leite said.

“Unfortunately, we know that these numbers will rise,” said Leite, describing the storms as the worst natural disaster in the state’s history, a top agricultural and livestock producer.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Santa Maria, one of the state’s worst-hit cities, and met with Leite on Thursday.

Lula offered federal funding and aid to address the emergency in the state bordering Uruguay and Argentina.

“There will be no shortage of help from the federal government to take care of health, no shortage of money to take care of transportation and food, everything that is within reach.

“Whether through ministers, civil society, or our military, we’ll dedicate round-the-clock effort to satisfy the basic needs of the people stranded by the rains,” said the president.

With more rain forecast, the governor called on residents, to head for higher ground and stay away from flood-prone areas identified by the civil defence agency.

He said 4,400 residents have been evacuated but thousands more are waiting to be rescued from their flooded homes.

According to a civil defence bulletin, 154 cities have been affected by natural disasters.

– Xinhua

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Israel Says Not Briefed In Time About Hamas Accepting Gaza Ceasefire Proposal – Reports

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Israel Says Not Briefed In Time About Hamas Accepting Gaza Ceasefire Proposal – Reports

The Israeli government was taken aback that Hamas accepted the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal, formed by Qatari and Egyptian mediators, as the country was only briefed on the Palestinian movement’s response an hour after its release.

The Axios news outlet reported this on Tuesday, citing three Israeli officials.

On Monday, Hamas informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators that it agreed to the terms of the ceasefire deal they had drafted.

The proposal provides for three stages of 42 days, during which a complete ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners are expected to be concluded.

In addition to allegedly being briefed on Hamas’ decision belatedly, the Israeli officials told Axios they had been outraged by the fact that the proposal accepted by the Palestinian movement allegedly contained “many new elements,” which had not been discussed with the Jewish state.

“It looked like a whole new proposal,” one of the Israeli officials was quoted by the news outlet as saying.

That “new” proposal, which allegedly was not negotiated with Israel, had been presented by the mediators to Hamas’ delegation during the latter’s visit to Cairo last weekend, the Israeli officials told Axios.

Meanwhile, a source familiar with the negotiations said Israeli representatives had also been invited by the United States to visit Cairo along with Hamas but had refused to do so.

The Israeli authorities have been seriously disappointed with Washington’s mediating role in the talks with Hamas, Axios reported.

CIA Director Bill Burns participated in the recent round of the negotiations in Cairo and Doha and was aware of that “new” proposal, but allegedly did not inform Israel about it, sources familiar with the matter were cited by the news outlet as saying.

Meanwhile, a senior US official told Axios that “American diplomats have been engaged with Israeli counterparts,” adding there were “no surprises.”

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces started a military operation in the eastern parts of Rafah, after urging residents to evacuate.

Palestinian movement Hamas said that it had agreed to the provisions of the Gaza ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal unacceptable.

More than a million people are believed to be sheltering in the city.

On Oct. 7, 2023, the Palestinian movement Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel and breached the border, attacking both civilian neighbourhoods and military bases.

Nearly 1,200 people in Israel were killed and some 240 others abducted during the attack.

Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and started a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages.

Over 34,700 people have been killed so far by Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip, according to local authorities.

More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. 

– Sputnik

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East Africa Floods Affecting 750,000 People, Kill 235 – UN

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East Africa Floods Affecting 750,000 People, Kill 235 – UN

UN humanitarians said about 750,000 people were affected by flooding in eastern Africa, with 234,000 displaced and more than 236 killed.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said local authorities in Kenya reported more than 285,000 people were affected nationwide.

“The United Nations and our partners are supporting the government-led response and have reached more than 126,000 people with water and sanitation assistance.

“About 31,000 people were assisted with food and cash, more than 5,000 assisted with health services, and nearly 26,000 people with emergency shelter support,” OCHA said.

The office said that in Somalia, more than 160,000 people were affected by flooding, with more than 37,000 displaced or relocated.

Flooding has killed seven children since April 19, with the states of Hirshabelle, Jubaland and Southwest the worst affected.

Humanitarian agencies said local authorities provided more than 70,000 people with food, cash, water, sanitation, shelter and health assistance.

Some 50 boats were deployed to deliver supplies or evacuate people who may have been marooned by flood waters.

“Our partners estimate that the rains and floods could affect at least 770,000 people in Somalia,” OCHA said.

“The rains are also likely to worsen the ongoing cholera epidemic in the country.”

The humanitarians said that in Burundi, torrential rains and the rising water level of Lake Tanganyika have affected nearly 180,000 people since January.

The agriculture sector is heavily impacted, with national authorities estimating that 40,000 hectares or 10 per cent of the country’s crop area have been affected.

“A flood response plan seeking 25 million U.S. dollars is being finalised to support more than 300,000 people,” OCHA said.

“Our partners are providing health care support, drinking water, tarpaulins and psychosocial support.”

According to humanitarians, in Tanzania, the government and partners deployed search and rescue teams and distributed emergency aid, including food, mattresses, mosquito nets and tents to assist flood-affected people.

The office said that in Rwanda, heavy rains and floods killed and injured dozens of people and damaged roads, bridges and hundreds of homes.

Local authorities reported that several hectares of rice and banana plantations were also damaged.

“The governments and humanitarian partners are supporting evacuation efforts and the response,” OCHA said.  

– Xinhua

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