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Air Force on fact finding mission over alleged killing of innocents in Zamfara

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NAF destroy insurgents’ logistics facility in Sambia forest

…As Blast, gunfire announce attackers hitting Afghan communications ministry, in central Kabul***

A team of Nigerian Air Force officers, led by AVM Idi Lubo,  on Friday arrived Zamfara to investigate allegations that innocent citizens were recently bombarded through air strikes by NAF personnel in the state.

Addressing journalists on arrival at the 307 Quick Response Group headquarters in Gusau, the team leader,  Lubo said “the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar is highly disturbed over the allegations.

“As concerned Nigerians and part of those charged with the responsibility of ensuring the peace and safety of Nigerians, we are here to verify the claims made by the traditional rulers of Zamfara.

“We will meet with all stakeholders in the matter,  especially the state government, security chiefs and even the affected community members before filing our report.”

Report says that the team had on arrival in the evening, separately met with the state Director, Department of State Security and the Secretary to the State Government behind closed door.

There is a report that the state Council of Chiefs had a fortnight ago,  accused the air force under the on-going Operation Sharan Daji of hitting wrong targets and killing innocent citizens instead of bandits.

Although the headquarters of the Nigeria Air Force had denied the allegations, the council followed the claim with the list of victims.

The state has been under bandits attacks in the last seven years,  during which about 5,000 persons were said to have been killed, thousands of animals rustled and property either burnt or destroyed. 

In the meantime, gunmen attacked the communications ministry in the centre of Kabul on Saturday, interrupting months of relative calm in the Afghan capital and underlining security threats that have continued in spite of efforts to open peace talks with the Taliban.

Saturday’s attack opened shortly before midday with an explosion at the entrance to the multi-storey building housing the ministry in a busy commercial area of the city, followed up by gunfire which could be heard over a mile away.

The area around the building was sealed off by police as at least three attackers battled security forces, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

By early afternoon, he said at least two of the attackers had been killed and gunfire could no longer be heard. However, there was no confirmation that the attack was over.

The explosion, which security officials said appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber, was also close to the heavily fortified Serena Hotel, one of the very few Kabul hotels still used by foreign visitors.

There was no immediate word on further casualties and no claim of responsibility for the operation.

The attack marked a return to the kind of complex urban attack that have been familiar features of the Afghan conflict over recent years.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Kabul in attacks by militant groups including the Taliban and Islamic State.

But as U.S. officials have held a series of meetings with representatives from the Taliban, Kabul has been relatively calm.

While heavy fighting has carried on across Afghanistan and Taliban militants have announced their now customary spring offensive, it had been several months since the last major attack on civilian targets in the capital.

The attack, just days after a planned meeting between Taliban officials and Afghan politicians and civil society representatives in Qatar was cancelled, underlined the hurdles facing efforts to reach a peace settlement.

Officials have said they hope to hold a meeting soon but no date has been set.

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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