Articles by "Africa"

In this photo provided by the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council holds a meeting on the situation in the Middle East, June 15, 2017, at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo by AP)
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution welcoming the deployment of an African military force to fight Takfiri terrorists in the Sahel region.
The resolution, drafted by France, welcomes the deployment but does not grant full UN authorization to the force due to opposition by the United States.
Washington opposed formal Security Council backing for the operation because the troops will be operating on the territory of five countries.
The military force will be made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, known as the Sahel G-5. The group approved plans in March to build a contingent of 5,000 members made up of soldiers, police officers as well as civilians.
French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre described the unanimous vote at the council as a proof of "maximum political support" for the G5 force.
"At a time when terrorism is striking everywhere in the world, we cannot let the Sahel region become a new haven for terrorist organizations from the entire world," he told the council.
"It is our security which is at stake in the Sahel, not just the security of the G5 countries," Delattre said.
After two weeks of negotiations, France dropped the request for formal UN authorization and for a special UN report on financing the force.
The resolution "welcomes the deployment" of the G5 force "with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel region" and drops a provision that invoked Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of force.
A French soldier gets ready prior to the visit of the French president to the troops of France's Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, May 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The initial decision to establish the G5 Sahel force in the semi-arid region south of the Sahara was made in November 2015, during a summit in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
The European Union said on June 5 that it plans to spend 50 million euros to finance the establishment of the joint African military force in Sahel with the declared aim of fighting terrorism, among other threats.
More than 3,000 French military forces as well as 12,000 UN troops have been engaged in Mali, a former French colony, since 2013, when al-Qaeda-linked elements and Tuareg militants waged an insurgency in the north of the country.
Although the militants were largely driven out by a French-led military operation in January 2013, they continue to wage attacks on the country’s military forces in the remote north.
Since 2015, the attacks have spread to the center and south of the impoverished country, often spilling over into neighboring countries, including Burkina Faso and Niger.

In this file photo, anti-Balaka Christian militiamen man a mobile checkpoint near Sibut, northeast of the capital Bangui, the Central African Republic. (Photo by AP)
The death toll from a day of fierce clashes between rival factions has increased to around 100 in violence-wracked Central African Republic(CAR).
Security sources and NGOs said some 40 people had been killed with dozens more wounded after shooting erupted early on Tuesday in the central town of Bria, the capital of the northeastern prefecture of Haute-Kotto.  
The town's mayor, Maurice Belikoussou, said, "The death toll will certainly rise. For now it's an estimate and it could be up to 100 dead."
"There are still dead lying in the neighborhoods, in the road and in the bush."
Local lawmaker Arsene Kongbo said, "The warring parties burned villages and neighborhoods of Bria, forcing more of the population out with many fleeing into the bush."
A local Red Cross official said that calm had returned to the town.
The fierce fighting began just hours after Bangui reached a deal with rebel groups on an immediate ceasefire in an agreement brokered by a Catholic group in Rome on Monday
The photo taken on December 9, 2014 shows UN peacekeeping soldiers from Rwanda patrolling in Bangui, the Central African Republic (AFP Photo)
The latest clashes dashed hopes that a ceasefire signed between more than a dozen militias in Rome could succeed in ending a conflict.
Since mid-May, Bria and several other towns such as Bangassou, Alindao and Mobaye have been engulfed by violence.
The UN's humanitarian organisation (OCHA) and the government said the fighting had already killed 300 people, wounded 200 and displaced 100,000 others by the end of the month,
The OCHA figures show that the violence has forced more than 40,000 people out of their homes in Bria alone.
Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the UN's special representative in Central Africa, has called for an immediate halt to the violence.
"It is vital that the cease-fire agreed upon by the parties comes into force immediately to free the populations and the many regions of the country that are still suffering from armed violence," Onanga-Anyanga said on Wednesday.
"This violence has also forced more than 100,000 people to flee inside the country and more than 20,000 others to seek refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Anyanga added, referring to the overall effect of unrest across CAR since mid-May. "The total number of internally displaced persons has therefore surpassed the 500,000 mark."
Some 13,000 peacekeepers have been deployed to the country by the United Nations as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR (MINUSCA). Civilians say the mission has failed to protect them against armed groups.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday released a report highlighting the plight of people with disabilities in CAR, saying they had faced violent attacks and were especially vulnerable while trying to flee.
One of the world's poorest nations, the Central African Republic has been struggling to recover from a civil war that started in 2013.

Palestinian security forces (R & L) and an Egyptian border guard (C) stand as Egyptian trucks carrying fuel enter the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Egypt has begun the delivery of one million liters of fuel to the besieged Gaza Strip in an attempt to ease the electricity crisis in the Palestinian territory.
Sources at the Rafah crossing said on Wednesday that eight shipments had entered Gaza, with 14 expected later in the day.
One million liters, which is 220,000 gallons, of fuel were expected to be delivered on Wednesday.
The fuel will be routed to the only power station in Gaza, which has been closed since April due to fuel shortages.
Samir Moutair, the director general of the Gaza electricity company, said new deliveries would enable the power station to operate for two to three days.
On Monday, Israel began reducing its electricity supplies to Gaza. More than a week ago, Tel Aviv announced its controversial decision to further pressure the impoverished Palestinian territory.
On June 11, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet gave the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) the green light to implement the controversial cut, a step that is expected to further deteriorate the power crunch plaguing the seaside Palestinian territory, run by the resistance movement Hamas.
Israel’s decision was reportedly made after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, slashed its monthly payments for the power supplies to Gaza by 30 percent. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are at loggerheads, and Abbas' decision is considered as indirect pressure on Hamas to relinquish the control of Gaza.
Electricity supply is a major concern in the hot and cramped territory, which is currently marking the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Palestinians in Gaza currently receive only three or four hours of electricity a day. The electricity is delivered from the territory's own power station and others in Israel and Egypt.
Residents who can afford electricity use generators to power their homes or businesses in the impoverished Palestinian enclave of some two million people.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) earlier warned of a looming humanitarian crisis due to prolonged power outages in Gaza.
Amnesty International also warned in a statement on Wednesday that the power cut would lead to a “looming humanitarian catastrophe.”
The photo taken on June 13, 2017, shows Palestinian children at home reading books by candle light due to electricity shortages in Gaza City. (Photo by AFP)
On Monday, Israeli human rights group Gisha said in a statement that by reducing supplies "Israel is knowingly aggravating an already dangerous situation in which the strip is teetering on the verge of a humanitarian crisis."
Gaza has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The Israeli war, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians.

An Egyptian woman holds up a national flag bearing the names “Tiran” and “Sanafir,” two islands that the government has agreed to transfer to Saudi Arabia, in Cairo, January 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
An Egyptian court has overruled a previous verdict authorizing the transfer of two strategic Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia, something President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to in a controversial deal with Riyadh.
The administrative court ruled on Tuesday that all judicial decisions taken to date by the Urgent Matters Court would be considered invalid. The latter had previously ruled in favor of the bilateral deal enabling the transfer in 2016.
Tiran and Sanafir, as the islands are named, can be used to control access to the Israeli port of Eilat. Recent reports have indicated that Riyadh and Tel Aviv are mulling over establishing economic relations.
“The ruling (on Tuesday) signifies that the land is Egyptian,” said Khaled Ali, a lawyer who argued at the administrative court that the islands belonged to Egypt.
The verdict would affirm that any attempt to transfer the islands to Saudi Arabia would be considered unconstitutional “even if the president ratified the agreement,” he added.
A file photo taken on January 14, 2014 through the window of an airplane shows the Red Sea Tiran (foreground) and the Sanafir (background) islands between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. (By AFP)
Israel had captured the isles back in 1967 along with vast swathes of other Arab territory but returned them to Egypt as part of the 1979 Camp David Accords deal with Cairo.
The Egyptian parliament has endorsed the accord between Sisi and the Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. But the Egyptian president is yet to ratify it. However, he risks further angering the Egyptian public, who have already launched protests against the transfer of the islands to Saudi Arabia.
They accuse Sisi of giving away the country’s territory in exchange for financial and political incentives awarded by Riyadh.

31 people have been killed during ethnic clashes in central Mali.
Thirty-one people were killed over the weekend in central Mali as ethnic groups clashed over land in a zone where the state is near-absent and extremists roam freely.
Nomadic Fulani people and farmers from the Dogon ethnic group have engaged in tit-for-tat violence sparked by Fulanis grazing their cattle on Dogon land.
Dogons also accuse Fulanis in the area of colluding with cleric Amadou Koufa, whose extremist group recently joined an extremist alliance with links to al-Qaeda.
The Malian army confirmed "31 dead, (comprising) 27 Fulanis and four Dogons," along with nine more injured, in a statement released Monday night.
Photo taken June 19, 2017 shows Malian special forces near the Kangaba tourist resort in Bamako on June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The army said it had spoken with mayors, village chiefs and imams to persuade them to halt the violence in Mopti region.
But a local official in the area said the absence of the government in the area had created a vacuum where extremists were thriving.
A resident of the area described a "revenge attack" by Dogons against two Fulani villages, following the widely reported murder of a Dogon in a fight last week.
Increased availability of arms from Libya has contributed to intercommunal violence in Mali, experts say, while drought has forced herders into areas traditionally cultivated by farmers.
Cattle herder Boubacar Demba and his children tend to their cattle in Guana, outside Bamako, Mali, November 5, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Human Rights Watch said in April that herder and farmer groups "have long had disputes and misunderstandings over access to water and land," but cautioned that the proliferation of [extremist] armed groups meant such disputes "have become increasingly deadly."

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense on February 16, 2015 shows an Egyptian air force fighter jet landing at an undisclosed location in Egypt following airstrikes to target militants in Libya. (AFP photo)
The Egyptian military has carried out a major airstrike in the northern Sinai region, killing 12 militants loyal to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the area.
A statement on Tuesday said the militants were targeted while gathering at an undisclosed location in Sinai. It did not elaborate when the attack took place but said several four-wheel-drive vehicles were also destroyed in the strike.
The military described the dead as “highly dangerous” leaders of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a militant group which declared war on the Egyptian government after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The group later pledged allegiance to Daesh and rebranded itself as the Sinai Peninsula of the Takfiris who operate in Iraq and Syria. When Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, the former army chief and the leader of the coup against Morsi, came to power as president in 2014, he launched an all-out military operation to oust militants from Sinai. Hundreds of soldiers and policemen have been killed in the confrontation since then.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (AFP photo)
Sisi’s air campaign against militants expanded to Libya earlier this month after he blamed terror cells in the neighboring country for orchestrating a massive attack on Coptic Christians that killed 29 people. Copts have become a major target of militant attacks in Egypt as more than 100 members of the community have been killed in bombings at Coptic churches over the past months.
Rights campaigners have criticized Sisi for inflicting casualties on civilians in his campaign against militants. They challenge figures provided by the government on the death of thousands of militants in Sinai, saying it includes civilians living in the thinly populated region.

Security forces seize a demonstrator in Rabat on June 20, 2017 during a protest in support of the grassroots movement for the neglected Rif region in Morocco. (AFP photo)
Moroccan authorities have arrested more people in relation to anti-government protests in the North African Arab country.
Lawyers and rights groups said on Tuesday that more activists had been arrested over involvement in protests across Morocco.
“There are arrests on a daily basis,” said Abdessadak Elbouchattaoui, a lawyer, adding that, “On average, there are about four arrests a day, sometimes reaching 10 a day.”
Morocco's Ministry of Justice would not comment on reports about the growing number of arrests. It has not updated statements about arrests since June 6, when authorities brought charges against Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of the Hirak al Chaabi or the Popular Movement, which has spearheaded popular protests since the end of May.
Ministry officials told a parliament session last week that the arrests, which have mainly targeted protesters in the northern city of Hoceima, had been carried out by security forces who acted with "maturity, responsibility, wisdom, and in accordance with legal provisions."
Security forces seize a demonstrator in Rabat on June 20, 2017 during a protest in support of the grassroots movement for the neglected Rif region in Morocco. (AFP photo)
Protests began in Hoceima over the gruesome death of a fishmonger who died after he struggled to recover confiscated fishes. Thousands of people took to the streets in Hoceima and later in other cities when they heard that Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death inside a garbage truck. The months-long demonstrations have been described as the largest in scale since a political uprising in Morocco in 2011.
Police on Monday dispersed a demonstration in the capital Rabat involving human rights activists who had attempted to mobilize in solidarity with Hirak. Protesters in Hoceima have warned that they would stage a massive march on the holy Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr next weekend if Hirak protesters are not released from prison. Sources close to the palace of King Mohammed VI, who remains the ultimate power in Morocco, have suggested that the monarch might issue a royal pardon for the prisoners on the religious occasion, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The photo shows the site of a terror attack outside the Pizza House restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
An explosion caused at least 10 people killed in the south of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, a government official said.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was a car bomb targeting a building housing government officials.
"We heard a huge explosion in Wadajir district, there are some casualties," Abifutah Omar Halane, the spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor, said.
Al Shabaab said they were behind the blast.
People walk at the site of a terror attack outside the Pizza House restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
"It's a suicide car bomb in Wadajir District building in which Somali officials and their staff stay. There are government and their staff who have died at the scene," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab spokesman for military operations, said, giving no further details.
Al Shabaab frequently launches attacks on the capital Mogadishu and other regions controlled by Somalia's federal government. It aims to force out African Union peacekeepers, topple the Western-backed government and impose its strict version of religion.

The UN Security Council urges Djibouti and Eritrea to resolve their border dispute peacefully.
The UN Security Council have urged Djibouti and Eritrea to resolve their border dispute peacefully after tensions flared following the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers from a buffer zone.
Djibouti accused Eritrea of moving its forces into the buffer zone last week, a day after Qatar, a mediator in the border dispute that turned violent in 2010, announced the troop pullout.
After hearing a UN report on Monday, the Security Council called “on the parties to resolve their border dispute peacefully in a manner consistent with international law,” said Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenty, this month’s council president.
The council “would welcome the consideration of future confidence-building measures,” he told reporters after the closed-door meeting. Council members welcomed a plan by the African Union to send a fact-finding mission to the disputed border region, Llorenty added.
The meeting on the border tensions was called by Ethiopia, which fought a war with Eritrea in the late 1990s.
The Qatari withdrawal comes as the Persian Gulf emirate is locked in a bitter dispute with Saudi Arabia and its allies over alleged ties to extremists, a charge it denies.
Both Djibouti and Eritrea have good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and have taken their side in the Persian Gulf row.

A woman looks on while standing near the site where four terrorists blew themselves up near a bus station in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria on March 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
At least 16 people have been killed when suspected members of the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group detonated their explosive vests near a camp of displaced people in the volatile northeastern state of Borno, the birthplace of the terror outfit.
Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement that the bomb attacks occurred close to the Dalori camp at Kofa village, located nearly 10 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital Maiduguri, at about 08:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT) on Sunday.
According to Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the spokesman of the NEMA, two female terrorists first attempted to enter the camp but were thwarted by security personnel of the camp.
However, "two other female bombers detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people," he added in the statement.
Borno state police spokesman Victor Isuku gave a more detailed account of the attacks in his initial report of the incident, saying the first assailant detonated her explosives "near a mosque", claiming the lives of seven people, and the second one blew herself up "in a house", killing six people. He added that at least 11 people also sustained injuries in the blasts and were taken to hospital.
However, Ibrahim updated Isuku's report, saying three of the wounded succumbed to their injuries later on. "The 16 does not include the bombers," he added.
Isuku revised the number of attackers up to five from four, and maintained that other three assailants, not directly involved in the blasts, were also killed.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks but they bear the hallmark of the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group, as it in the past employed radicalized females on multiple occasions to conduct bombing attacks against people or army troops.
Dalori is one of the largest camps allocated to internally displaced people (IDP) in the remote region and Boko Haram terrorists had previously tried to hit the camp. Back in January last year, Takfiri militants killed at least 85 people as they rampaged through the communities near Dalori. They burned down houses and killed people either by gunfire or by detonating explosives.
Nigerian soldiers patrol in the town of Banki in northeastern Nigeria on April 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Sunday attack is the deadliest one in Nigeria since June 8, when Boko Haram militants killed 14 people in yet another mixture of gunfire and blasts in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.  
In recent months, army troops and civilian fighters in Nigeria have managed to foil many bomb attacks involving terrorists wearing explosive vests before the assailants were able to reach heavily-populated targets and detonate their bombs of their own accord.
Last December, however, two women, with the Boko Haram, killed 57 people and injured 177, including 120 children, after they detonated their explosive vests at a bustling market at Madagali, a town in the neighboring province of Adamawa.
On December 24, 2016, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 with a pledge to eradicate Boko Haram, announced that the army had “crushed” the terror group a day earlier by retaking its last key bastion, deep inside the thick Sambisa Forest in Borno.
The group, however, has resorted to sporadic shooting and bombing attacks in the northeast of the African country, spreading panic among the local residents.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly terror attacks in Nigeria since the beginning of their militancy in 2009, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 20,000 people and made more than 2.7 million displaced.
The United Nations has warned that areas affected by Boko Haram face a humanitarian crisis.
Back in February 2016, four nations of the Lake Chad Basin - Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria - launched a campaign, together with a contingent from Benin, to confront the threat from Boko Haram terrorists in the region.

A displaced woman boils water in her new settlement in Aburoc, South Sudan, on June 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United Nations has called for urgent international help to reach out to those affected by war in South Sudan, saying the world’s youngest nation has the fastest growing number of displaced people.
In remarks published on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi regretted that the world had almost kept silent on the plight of more than four million people who had fled their homes in South Sudan since war began four years ago, saying the international community needed to do more to stop the increasing number of displacement in the country.
"Wherever you look there are dead ends,” Grandi said, adding, “The international neglect that you see here is matched nowhere else in the world.”
The UNHCR -- the UN refugee agency-- and other organizations campaigning for refugees say that around two million of those displaced in South Sudan have fled to neighboring countries, making the situation more complicated. They say two million people have also been internally displaced since a new wave of fighting broke out in South Sudan two years ago.
Grandi on Sunday visited a camp for internally-displaced people (IDP) in the town of Bentiu. The camp, home to some 120,000 people, is South Sudan's largest for IDPs and the second biggest camp for displaced people in the country after the capital Juba.
This photo taken on June 5, 2017, shows an aerial view of the new settlement of displaced families in Aburoc, South Sudan. (Photo by AFP)
The senior UN official said he was shocked by the dire situation of refugees in South Sudan and that more and more people were affected by violence.
"I was hoping South Sudan wouldn't need UNHCR anymore ... Unfortunately our services are still required,” said Grandi, adding that South Sudanese “authorities have a greater responsibility to provide security.”
South Sudan plunged into civil war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar.
Machar went on to lead rebel forces fighting Kiir. The civil war continues to this day and has divided the country along ethnic lines in the country of some 12 million people.
South Sudanese refugees fleeing to neighboring countries have mostly taken shelter in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

An armored vehicle drives towards Le Campement Kangaba resort following an attack where gunmen stormed the resort in Dougourakoro, to the east of the capital Bamako, Mali in this still frame taken from video June 18, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Four gunmen have been killed after they attacked a tourist resort in Mali frequented by Westerners, the country's security minister says.
“We have recovered the bodies of two attackers who were killed", Salif Traore said on Sunday, adding that police were "searching for the bodies of two others."
“Malian Special Forces intervened and hostages have been released," he added. "Unfortunately for the moment there are two dead, including a Franco-Gabonese," he noted.
Traore made the announcement after a firefight broke out between government troops and gunmen, who entered luxury resort Le Campement Kangaba, east of the capital Bamako.
“One of the terrorists was able to escape, after being injured," he noted.
The security ministry added that two people had been injured in the skirmish, while 36 guests and hotel staff were rescued.

This May 26, 2017 file photo shows a Nigerian man offloading bags from a truck at the Monday Market in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, where Boko Haram Takfiri group carried out attacks on civilians. (AFP photo)
Nigeria says half of government food aid meant to reach the victims of a militancy northeast of the country has not reached its destination.
A spokesman for acting president Yemi Osinbajo said late on Saturday that half of the trucks carrying food aid for people driven from their homes by Boko Haram Takfiri group have been diverted away from their destination.
“Over 1,000 trucks of assorted grains are now on course, delivering the grains intact to beneficiaries since the commencement of the present program as against the reported diversion of over 50 trucks in every 100 trucks sent to the northeast,” said Laolu Akande in an emailed statement.
Osinbajo, acting in lieu of President Muhammadu Buhari who is in Britain on medical leave, launched a program on June 8 to reach out to around 2.7 million people identified as IDPs, or internally displaced, as a result of more than eight years of insurgency by Boko Haram.   
Akande said the new system for distribution of food would significantly prevent the diversion of the humanitarian aid.
“The issue of diversion of relief materials, including food and related matters, which has dogged food delivery to the IDPs would be significantly curbed under the new distribution matrix,” said the official, elaborating that 1,376 military personnel and 656 armed police would be tasked with guarding the food from where it its loaded to the trucks to the three main location where displaced people live, namely Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
More than 20,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram started its devastating campaign in northeast Nigeria in 2009. The violence has claimed many lives in neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameron. A large-scale government offensive has pushed the militants from key areas they used to control, although sporadic attacks have continued over the past months.

Illegal refugees rescued by the Libyan coastguard in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli on May 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Libya says it has intercepted over 900 refugees bound for Europe off the western city of Sabratha.
According to Col. Ayoub Qassim, the Libyan navy spokesman, coastguard unites caught 906 refugees, including 92 women and 25 children, in an operation conducted in the Mediterranean Sea some seven kilometers off the coast of Sabratha on Friday.
He went on to say that one of the rubber boats had been perforated and almost submerged, and a wooden boat remained idle as its engine was removed, adding that the refugees were African, Asian and Arab.
Smugglers, exploiting the chaos in Libya caused by the 2011 uprising, pack desperate refugees and asylum seekers onto ill-equipped boats, which are usually intercepted by European vessels once they enter international waters.
However, some other boats capsize or become stranded when people traffickers remove the engines for reuse. A number of other illegal boats get turned back by the Libyan coastguard.
Figures from the International Organization for Migration show that over 80 percent of the 60,000 refugees who have crossed the central Mediterranean route from crisis-hit Libya to Italy since January have set foot on Italian territory, while more than 1,500 others have lost their lives in the rough sea.
During the past few years, Libya has served as a transit point for tens of thousands of undocumented refugees trying to reach Europe by sea.
Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Many blame major European powers for the exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East, displacing the locals.

A Qatar Airways plane lands at the Hamad International Airport in the Qatari capital Doha on June 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Qatar said Wednesday it has pulled all of its troops from the border of Djibouti and Eritrea, east African nations that have a long-running territorial dispute which Doha had helped mediate.
Qatar offered no explanation for the move, though it comes amid a diplomatic dispute with other Arab nations that have cut diplomatic ties and now are trying to isolate Qatar from the rest of the world.
While the dispute hasn't escalated to a military confrontation, Qatar's military is dwarfed by neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of its biggest opponents in the crisis.
The 450 Qatari troops controlled a mountainous border crossing between Eritrea and Djibouti, said Nasredin Ali, a spokesman for Eritrea's biggest armed group, known as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization. Eritrean forces moved in after the troops departed, Ali said.
Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah paid a visit to the Qatari peacekeeping force deployed along Eritrea-Djibouti border in June 2016. 
Eritrea's top diplomat to the African Union, Araya Desta, told The Associated Press the move came after Eritrea cut diplomatic ties to Qatar. However, Desta said his country wanted no confrontation with Djibouti.
"We don't want to take any of Djibouti's land," Araya said. "The last time we had some skirmishes. It was unnecessary."
Doha mediated the conflict between the two countries in 2010. Persian Gulf nations have stationed troops in both African countries, using that as a jumping-off point for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and severed ties with Doha last week. Qatar denies the allegations, but its ties to Iran and embrace of various extremist groups have put the country under intense scrutiny.

The photo taken on January 14, 2014, through the window of an airplane shows the Red Sea's Tiran (foreground) and the Sanafir (background) islands in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. (AFP photo)
The Egyptian parliament has finally sealed a controversial agreement for the transfer of sovereignty of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.
During the vote on Wednesday, the 596-seat chamber ratified the 2016 deal under which Cairo would hand over its sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir, two islands located at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, to Saudi Arabia.
Almost all lawmakers in the chamber stood up to declare their approval of the agreement. That was a foregone conclusion as majority of the lawmakers support the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who signed the agreement during a visit last year by Saudi King Salman.
The vote comes after a three-day debate in a committee of the house, where some 40 lawmakers endorsed the agreement despite fierce opposition from a handful of others.
Sisi, a former army general who had reportedly served for a while as Egypt’s military attaché in Saudi Arabia, has faced growing public pressure over his decision to sign the agreement as many call it tantamount to treason. Reports said at the time that the Sisi administration had given up control over the islands in return for financial aid from Saudi Arabia. The president finally referred the deal to the parliament in December after it sparked growing protests across Egypt.
The parliament started the debate early on Wednesday, hours after fierce clashes erupted between police and protesters in downtown Cairo. The sit-in protest at the headquarters of the Egyptian Press Syndicate came right after the yes vote by the legislative and constitutional committee of the parliament. The committee not only approved the content of the accord on islands, but the legality of its referral to the legislature for ratification.
Former Egyptian presidential candidate Hamden Sabahy (C) attends with dozens of journalists a demonstration at the Syndicate of Journalists in Cairo on June 13, 2017, after a controversial agreement for Cairo to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia passed an Egyptian parliamentary committee. (AFP photo)
Defying the public outrage, Sisi has defended the agreement over the past months, arguing that Tiran and Sanafir historically belong to Saudi Arabia and that Egypt took custody in the 1950s to protect them against potential aggression by Israel. His administration has also sought to ease public concerns about the transfer of the islands, saying Egypt would not totally abandon and would retain administrative control. It says Egyptian tourists would be free to visit the islands without visas even after Saudis take control.

The legislative and constitutional committee of the Egyptian parliament finally approves a controversial deal with Saudi Arabia on the control of two islands in the Red Sea.
The deal was approved on Tuesday as 38 lawmakers voted in favor of the agreement with Saudi Arabia, which hands over the sovereignty of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Eight members of the committee voted against.
Egypt’s minister of parliamentary affairs Omar Marwan said the parliament’s defense committee should also examine the deal before it goes to a general vote in the house.
The vote paves the way for the final approval of the deal by Egypt’s parliament as many in the 596-seat chamber support President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. The former army general, who had reportedly served for a while as Egypt’s military attaché in Saudi Arabia, signed the deal with the Riyadh last year under the pretext that the islands, located at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, were Saudis and had been placed under Egypt’s custody in the 1950s to protect them against Israeli aggression.
Sisi referred the deal to the parliament in December after it sparked protests across Egypt. Many said at the time that the Sisi administration had given up control over the islands in return for financial aid from Saudi Arabia.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (AFP photo)
Fierce arguments erupted during the three-day debate in the parliamentary committee as members exchanged accusations of treason. The raucous hearings occasionally came close to blows, prompting speaker Ali Abdel-Aal to threaten to adjourn the meetings.
Reports said Sisi’s government had sought to ease concerns in the parliament by issuing a report on the matter, reiterating that Egypt would not totally abandon the islands after handing over sovereignty and would retain administrative control. The report had also advised lawmakers that Egyptians would not need visas to visit the territories.

The Kangwayi Prison in Beni was attacked on Sunday by assailants. (File photo)
Eleven people were killed and more than 900 inmates escaped Sunday after unidentified assailants attacked a jail in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s restive east, an official said.
“The Kangwayi prison in Beni was attacked at 3:30 pm (1330 GMT) by assailants whose identity is not yet known,” Julien Paluku, the governor of North Kivu Province, told reporters.
“In the exchange of fire between security forces and the attackers, authorities have (counted) 11 dead including eight members of the security forces,” Paluku said, adding, “For the moment, out of 966 prisoners, there are only 30 left in the prison.”
Paluku said the Beni area and the neighboring town of Butembo had been put under curfew from 6:30 pm. “Only police officers and soldiers should be out from this time,” he said.
The attack came a day after the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked a police station and a prosecutor’s office in the capital, Kinshasa, killing a police officer and seriously injuring four others after a series of similar strikes over the past three weeks.
It also comes after two jailbreaks in the vast, unstable central African nation in the past month.
The violence has erupted as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is mired in a deep political crisis tied to President Joseph Kabila’s hold on power. Tension has been mounting across the vast mineral-rich nation of 71 million people since December last year, when Kabila’s second and final term officially ended.
Under a power-sharing agreement brokered by the influential Catholic Church on New Year’s Eve, Kabila is due to remain in office until elections at the end of 2017. However, Kabila earlier this month seemed to back away from the deal to hold a vote this year.
“I have not promised anything at all,” he told the German weekly Der Spiegel in a rare media interview. “I wish to organize elections as soon as possible.”

US Defence Secretary James Mattis (L) is greeted by Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mike Penning on his arrival at the London Somalia Conference at Lancaster House in London on May 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United States Africa Command says an air strike in southern Somalia has claimed the lives of eight suspected terrorists.
The US military in Africa said on Sunday that the strike was carried out some 185 miles (nearly 300 kilometers) southwest of the capital Mogadishu.
According to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the US air strike targeted the al-Shabaab terrorist group.
Their training camp in the Middle Juba region, near Sakow, was destroyed in the attack, he added.
A Somali soldier patrols next to the burnt-out wreckage of a car that was used by suspected al-Shabab fighters on April 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Somali president maintained that the strike would hamper future attacks by the group.
Somalia has been a scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabaab militants since 2006.

US soldiers attend the inauguration ceremony of bilateral military training between US and Polish troops in Zagan, Poland, on January 30, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

US military forces, in conjunction with Somali special troops, have conducted an operation against a major bastion of the Takfiri al-Shabab militants in the southern part of Somalia, inflicting losses on the extremists.
The Pentagon said in a statement on Sunday that the strike took place at around 0600 GMT and “in coordination with regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”
The statement emphasized that the strike was carried out as part of US President Donald Trump's March authorization of American forces “to conduct legal action against al-Shabab within a geographically defined area of active hostilities in support of (the) partner force in Somalia."
Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said Somalian special forces played a role in the attack against the extremists’ training center near Sakow district in the Middle Juba region.
“The mission, which was successfully ended, destroyed an important training camp where the group used to organize violent operations. This undermines their ability to mastermind more attacks,” Mohamed said.
Military spokesman for al-Shabab, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said in a statement that the al-Qaeda-linked militants had killed 61 Somalian soldiers after overrunning a military base in Af Urur town on Thursday.
Musab said al-Shabab fighters had also seized munitions and vehicles from the base. 
Bari region governor Yusuf Mohamed confirmed that a number of soldiers had been killed during fierce exchanges of gunfire across the troubled region.

In this file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area, some 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Mogadishu, Somalia. (Photo by AP)

"Al-Shabab attacked Af Urur town this morning. There were few soldiers there and thus al-Shabab captured the town. It is difficult to know the casualties because the telecommunications were cut off,” he said. 
Al-Shabab militant group has intensified its deadly bombings in Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu since the new government took office in February.  
The long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.
African Union troops forced the Takfiris out of the capital in 2011, but militants still control parts of the countryside and carry out attacks against government, military and civilian targets in Mogadishu and regional towns.


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