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UN says militias stormed its base, killing peacekeeper, 21 others in CAR



…Says 3,000 Somalis killed or injured by explosive devices in 3 years***

The UN on Wednesday said gunmen stormed its base in southern Central Africa
Republic (CAR), killing one peacekeeper and 21 other civilians.

The UN said the attack happened on Monday.

According to a statement from the UN, at around 5 a.m. (0400 GMT), armed anti-balaka militants attacked the base in Tagbara, about 300 km (190 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui.

The UN said ensuing gunfight lasted hours, and 22 anti-balaka were also killed.

It added that peacekeepers discovered 21 dead civilians, including four children, near a church in Tagbara.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for those deaths.

“Nothing can justify such acts that can be considered war crimes.

“An investigation will be conducted and will leave no room for impunity,” the UN said.

CAR was torn apart after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted president Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking retaliation killings by the anti-balaka.

A 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission has struggled to restore order to the countryside where attacks on civilians are frequent.

The UN Security Council approved an extra 900 peacekeepers in November to help to protect civilians.

The mission has become a deadly one: more than a dozen UN peacekeepers were killed there in 2017.

Meanwhile, the UN said 3,000 civilians have been either killed or injured by improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) in Somalia in the past three years.

The UN Mine-Action Service (UNMAS) said year 2017 was the deadliest, in large part due to an IED attack on Oct. 14, 2017 in Mogadishu which killed more than 500 people and injured over 300 in twin bombings.

“Children accounted for three-quarters of all casualties caused by unexploded ordnance in 2017,” UNMAS said in a statement issued to mark the International Awareness Day which falls on April 4.

The demining agency said increasing awareness about explosive hazards can save many lives, adding that the threat of improvised explosive devices in Somalia remains an ever-present source of danger.

“The threat posed by explosive hazards is a grim fact of life for many Somalis, causing the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods and affecting the physical and emotional well-being of people in many parts of the country,” UNMAS said.

UNMAS has been highlighting how mine action operations provide a tangible form of protection, reducing the explosive threats faced by affected communities in Somalia, as well as vulnerable populations such as internally displaced persons and refugees.

According to UNMAS data, over 70 communities in Somalia benefitted from the clearance of explosive remnants of war in over 450 locations in 2017 alone.

Similar work, UNMAS said, is being carried out currently in more than 40 districts nationwide to rid communities of explosive hazards.

Abshir Isakh, an UNMAS specialist on unexploded ordinance has been educating Somali residents about the risks of explosive devices and carries out demining operations to help keep communities safe.

“Increasing awareness regarding threats of explosive remnants of war creates room for saving many lives. Nothing is more valuable than knowledge. Awareness is the best solution for this issue,” he said.

Many years of armed conflicts in Somalia have left a lethal legacy of explosive devices, including landmines and explosive remnants of war which, according to the UNMAS, affect marginalised communities in conflict-affected areas and along border regions.

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Customs Intercepts 414 Sacks Of Donkey Skin, Contraband worth N71.2m



The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Kebbi Command, says it has intercepted a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey meat and skins along the Bunza-Kamba axis of the state.

Dr Ben Oramalugo, the Customs Area Controller, made this known while briefing newsmen on the command’s activities, in Birnin Kebbi on Friday.

He said that the seizure of the donkey skin and meat was among the 17 smuggled items intercepted by the command between April 15 and May 15.

“Notably, on Sunday, May 14, following an intelligence report on prohibited items about to be smuggled out of the country through Bunza down to Maje axis, we detailed our officers to increase surveillance along the said routes.

“And through stop-and-search, the officers were able to intercept a truck loaded with 414 sacks of donkey skin and meat along Bunza-Kamba Axis.”

He added that among other items seized were two Toyota Camry 2013 and two Honda Jazz 2005.

Others are, 55 bales of secondhand clothes, 4,925 liters of PMS, 13 bags of foreign parboiled rice, five kegs of vegetable oil, a Volvo truck and one Toyota Corolla used for smuggling items, among others.

“The Duty Paid Value of the seized items is N71.2 million.

“All these successes have been achieved through constant vigilance and intelligence gathering by the officers and men of the command,” he said.

Oramalugo also revealed that the command was able to generate N127.3 million in the month of April.

“This is as a result of the efforts we put in place through routine stakeholders’ engagements and applying advice received from community leaders and indigenous retired and serving security personnel, among others.”

Oramalugo commended patriotic citizens, eminent personalities, host communities, and other stakeholders for providing useful information and advice.

“We appreciate our sister agencies for their prompt intervention when we seek reinforcement,” the controller said.

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Guinness World Record: Akande-Sadipe commends chef Baci; Betara lauds Bassey’s Determination



A female House of Representatives member, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, has commended Hilda Bassey, popularly known as Hilda Baci, a Nigerian chef, who has set her eyes on breaking the Guinness World Record of longest cooking time.

Bassey targets 93 hours cooking marathon after spending over 83 hours showcasing her culinary skills before a live audience.

Akande-Sadipe, a federal lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency in Oyo State, took to her social media handles to cheer the “foodpreneur“ and actress, describing her as a brave champion.

Akande-Sadipe, showcasing her unwavering support for the brave chef, said her determination and incredible endurance were a testament to the remarkable strength and resilience that women possess.

“You have become a shining example of what women are truly capable of achieving.

“Your dedication to this extraordinary challenge inspires us all and reminds us that there are no limits to what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it.

“Your commitment to pushing boundaries and surpassing expectations is truly commendable”, she said.

Akande-Sadipe urged women to continue cheering Bassey and wish her success.

“I take this moment of Bassey’s determination to encourage every woman out there to celebrate and uplift her pursuit of this world record”.

“Let us join together in recognising her remarkable achievements and the milestones she has already conquered.

“Bassey’s journey is not only about breaking records but also about empowering women across the globe, showcasing our talents, prowess, strength and resilience,’’ Akande-Sadipe said.

She affirmed her support for Bassey, saying she was proud to see a woman making a significant impact in society.

“As a woman myself and in my capacity as a member of parliament and the chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, I stand firmly behind you.

“I am proud to see a fellow Nigerian woman making such a significant impact. Your determination serves as an inspiration to countless others, demonstrating that with dedication and perseverance, dreams become reality.

“Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you every step of the way as you continue this incredible feat.

“May your spirit remain strong, and may you find renewed energy during your well-deserved six-hour break”, she said.

She expressed hopes that the chef will make more history and achieve her dream of setting a new Guinness record.

Hilda Bassey: Guinness World Record Holder

“Once again, I celebrate you, Bassey. Your journey is a beacon of hope and empowerment for women everywhere. Keep pushing boundaries, inspiring others, and reminding the world of the incredible power we possess”.

In a related development, Rep. Muktar Betara (APC-Borno) also congratulated Nigerian chef, Ms. Hilda Bassey for setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual.

In a statement on Monday, Betara, a leading aspirant for the Speaker of the 10th Assembly said, Bassey, popularly known as Hilda Baci, demonstrated the Nigerian spirit.

The chef had on Monday, smashed the 87 hours 45 minutes record set by now-former Guinness World Record holder, Ms Lata Tondon.

Betara rejoiced with the new champion for the courage to aspire and to put Nigeria on the global map for the right reasons.

“The true Nigerian spirit is always seen in our passion, determination and quest to be positively outstanding in our fields of endeavors.

“I celebrate Hilda Baci for such courage to pick up the challenge to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual,” he said.

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Prince Harry Joins Royals At King Charles’ Coronation, Without Meghan



Prince Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, attended his father’s coronation in Westminster Abbey on Saturday although he had to settle for a third-row seat behind other members of the royal family.

It had been unclear until early April whether Harry, who now lives in California, would attend the historic occasion following a falling out with his family.

In his book “Spare”, published in January, he criticizes his father, his stepmother Queen Camilla, and his brother Prince William.

Harry, 38, was smiling as he arrived at the abbey dressed in a morning suit and with medals on his chest. The prince is an army veteran who served in Afghanistan.

He nodded to members of the congregation as he joined the heads of state, dignitaries, and representatives of the arts, military, charities, and sport inside the Abbey.

But there was no formal role for him and he sat in the third row behind working members of the royal family, alongside his disgraced uncle Prince Andrew, who was forced to quit royal duties because of his friendship with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.

Harry, who is the Duke of Sussex, said last month he would attend without his wife Meghan and two young children, who remained in the United States. His eldest child Archie was celebrating his fourth birthday on Saturday.

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex was part of the congregation as his father King Charles III was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Harry was once one of the most popular members of the royal family and his wedding to Meghan, a U.S. actor, at Windsor Castle in May 2018 was a grand affair which drew enthusiastic crowds.

But his decision to quit royal duties and the rift with his family has divided public opinion.

Lisa Penny, 53, a supermarket worker from Dorset who was among the crowd in London on Saturday, said: “I think he’s done a fair amount of damage and I think they need a bit of time to get over that. I’m pleased he is here for his father.”

It would be difficult to picture Harry and Meghan on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with King Charles and other members of the royal family, she said.

It was not yet known if he would make a balcony appearance.

“He’ll always be a Prince Harry to many people but for the other royal titles, no (he shouldn’t keep them).

He’s not a royal anymore, he doesn’t do any duties, he doesn’t live in the country,” she said.

Jacqueline Brown, 28, a museum caretaker who had come from Missouri in the United States to witness the events, was still pleased to see him there.

“He’s the king’s son, he should be here to support him. It’s nice he’s doing that despite everything,” she said. 

– Reuters

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