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60 dead in Khartoum protest crackdown

The situation is very difficult. Most of the hospitals have taken in more casualties than they have capacity for

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Gunfire crackled in Sudan’s capital on Wednesday as tensions remained high after a two-day crackdown that doctors close to the country’s protest movement said had left at least 60 people dead.

Despite mounting international concern at what demonstrators called a  “bloody massacre”, a bid at the UN Security Council to condemn the killings was blocked by China with support from Russia.

Hospitals in Khartoum said they were struggling to cope with the number of wounded after security forces launched a deadly raid on Monday on a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters.

“The situation is very difficult. Most of the hospitals have taken in more casualties than they have capacity for,” a doctor who works at two hospitals in the city told AFP.

“There’s a shortage of medical staff, a shortage of blood, and it’s difficult to do surgery because some operations can only be done in certain hospitals,” said the doctor, who asked not to be named.

“Among the wounded there are still people in a serious condition and I expect the number of deaths to rise.”

Sudan’s military ousted veteran president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule and had agreed a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.

But army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said following the crackdown that the plan had been ditched and an election would take place within nine months – a plan rejected by demonstrators.

Protest leaders called on their supporters to take part in “total civil disobedience” to topple the ruling military council.

Gunfire and barricades

On Wednesday, hundreds of residents of the north Khartoum blocked off streets with barricades made from stones, and waited by them in silence, a witness told AFP.

In the distance gunfire was heard.

In the early morning, sporadic shooting was heard in the Khartoum 2 neighbourhood, an area where there are several embassies, an AFP reporter said.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is linked to the protesters, said the death toll had jumped to 60 with hundreds more wounded.

An eight-year-old child was among the dead, it added.

The committee said it held “the militias of the (military) council… responsible for this massacre.”

The Rapid Support Forces, paramilitaries with origins in the 16-year-old war in the western region of Darfur, are thought to have been largely behind the crackdown.

Their commander is deputy chairman on the ruling military council.

Prayers for ‘martyrs’

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests against Bashir, urged the global community “to isolate and stop dealing with the so-called military council”.

It also called for an independent investigation into the killings under international supervision.

The Transitional Military Council said it “regrets” the events, calling it a “clean-up operation” that went wrong.

The Sudanese Doctors Union accused security forces of attacks on hospitals and staff across the country, and alleged some women had been raped in an area of the capital without giving details of how the group had learned of the assaults.

A push for the UN Security Council to condemn the killing of civilians and call on the military and protesters to work together was blocked by China, which was backed by Russia, during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. 

Eight European countries – Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands and Sweden – instead issued their own joint statement criticising “the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians”.

The United States, Britain and Norway earlier issued a joint statement condemning the military’s election plan.

African and Western governments have been strongly supportive of the protesters but Arab governments, led by Saudi Arabia, have backed the military rulers.

Moussa Faki, head of the African Union Commission, also backed “an immediate and transparent investigation”.

Despite the heavy security presence, worshippers in some areas of the capital still came out to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival following a call by protest leaders to “pray for the martyrs”.

Flights into Khartoum were disrupted as airlines monitored developments on the ground.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb

Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb
Libyan firefighters extinguish a fire at the site of a car bomb attack in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on August 10, 2019. - "Two members of the UN mission, one them a foreigner, were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb" in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said. (Photo by - / AFP)

A car bombing in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi killed two United Nations staff on Saturday, a security official said.

“Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb” in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened as a UN convoy was passing through the area.

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the cradle of the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was hit by years of violence targeting diplomatic offices and security forces after his fall.

An attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In 2017, military strongman Khalifa Haftar drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out of Benghazi after a three-year battle.

Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, went on to seize Derna, the last city in eastern Libya outside his control.

But bombings and kidnappings have continued.

A May 2018 attack left seven people dead and last month, a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.

A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.

Haftar controls most of eastern Libya, and early this year he ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army to purge the south of what he called “terrorist groups and criminals”. 

On the heels of that campaign, his LNA launched in April an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord. 

The LNA on Saturday announced a truce around Tripoli for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a ceasefire called for by the UN.

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Central Africa News

76 people survive shipwreck in DR Congo

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu.

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DR Congo boat accident claims 11 lives, dozens missing

76 people have survived a shipwreck on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a regional official said Saturday. However, more than a dozen people are feared to have drowned in the same incident.

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu. 

“We have already registered 76 survivors,” said Swedi Basila, the regional transport minister for South Kivu province, adding that up to 20 people were still missing.

“No body has been found until now,” he told AFP.

The vessel had been on its way to the island of Idjwi when it hit a large rock and capsized, Basila said.

River transport is one of the most used in DR Congo with its numerous waterways. Boat mishaps are common, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In April, at least 167 people were killed in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have life jackets. 

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Lifestyle News

EFCC charge Atiku Abubakar’s lawyer with corruption

Legal advisor Uyi Giwa Osagie is accused of handling $2 million without going through a “financial institution”

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Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Nigerian anti-corruption investigators have charged the lawyer of defeated presidential challenger Atiku Abubakar with money laundering, an official said Friday.

Legal advisor Uyi Giwa Osagie is accused of handling $2 million without going through a “financial institution”, a lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told AFP.

Election runner-up Abubakar has launched a legal challenge against the result of the fiercely contested poll in February that saw him lose out to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Several people close to the defeated candidate have been targeted by the anti-graft agency since the vote, in what Abubakar’s supporters have described as a witch hunt. 

Osagie was first detained in February after his house was raided in Lagos but released from custody several weeks later. 

Boladale Adekoya, a spokesman for Abubakar’s campaign accused anti-corruption investigators of being “more dedicated to partisanship than rule of law”.

“They are clearly acting on behalf of a higher authority,” he told AFP. 

Abubakar’s son-in-law was also detained in the wake of the election as part of a money-laundering probe but has yet to face charges.

Buhari swept to power in 2015 on a pledge to fight the rampant graft in Nigeria — but critics accused the former military ruler of using the crackdown to go after his opponents during his first term. 

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