SUDAN: 12 killed in tribal clashes in East Dafur

GARISSA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan securities officers are on Sunday interrogating a terror suspect who was arrested in the border town of Garissa with a pistol loaded with 10 rounds of ammunitions.

Northeastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh said the male suspect was arrested in Bulakamor within Garissa town by officers as he trying to hide the weapon.

Saleh said members of the public who spotted him become suspicious of his presence and informed the area local administrators who immediately called police officers who swiftly arrested him.

“We want to thank members of the public for providing crucial information that led to his arrest. Had it not for them, the terror suspect could still be roaming freely with the weapon which we believe he wanted to use to kill people,” Saleh said in Garissa.

The government administrator said the suspect was found with the gun that he had hidden in a thicket.

Saleh said a multi-agency security team was still interrogating the man with a view of identifying his nationality, adding that he had no documents at all.

He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the man could be on a list of people security officers have been looking for in the area. He, however, noted that none of the people he was looking for in the area was known by the locals.

However, a reliable source gave a conflicting report, saying that the pistol belonged to police officer who misplaced it while drunk.

“The gun belonged to a regular police constable who misplaced it while drunk. It is at this point that he gave the man who is his close friend and was to hand it over to him later. But before he could do these people saw him with it and informed the area administrator,” said the source.

He said it is like the police are trying to shield their colleague from any wrong doing and instead have decided to use the innocent man as a scapegoat.

The East African nation continues to suffer several attacks as terrorists change tuck to beat heightened security and carry on with their heinous acts undetected.

Most of these attacks occur in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties. Several attacks also occurred along the Kenyan coast.

 

MOMBASA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police said Sunday they are holding 17 armed youth who belong to two deadly gangs in the coastal city of Mombasa that has been terrorising the residents.

Mombasa County Deputy Commissioner Salim Mahmud said the suspected criminals who were arrested early Sunday were found in possession of machetes and hard drugs.

 

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- A senior Al-Shabaab commander surrendered to Somali army at a village near Galcad town in Galgudud region of central Somalia on Sunday, officials said.

Somali National Army Commander in the region Col. Ahmed Mohamed told reporters that Ahmed Mohamud Afrah accepted amnesty and surrendered to the government.

“He was Al-Shabaab commander in charge of zakawat (levy) collection in this region. He had communication with us and told us that he is planning to leave his militant group,” Mohamed said.

“We welcome any one of the terrorist group members defecting and coming to us, but we will fight others who are in insurgency,” he added.

Mohamed indicated that some of the militants who expressed their willingness to surrender soon to join peace process under amnesty extended by the government.

The Al-Shabaab commander Afrah said circumstances and fear prompted him to joint the militant group, but had no freedom at all in the group.

“Circumstances and fear from the group led me join the Al-Shabaab fighters and accept to hold such position, but I had no freedom inside the group any time. I decided to accept amnesty offer and join my people and the Somali government forces in order to live in peace and without any worry. I am happy, the government officials welcomed me well,” Afrah told journalists.

The group has suffered heavy losses in central Somalia in March as Galmudug forces killed many of the group members and captured over 30 others in a week-long fighting in the region.

 

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somali security forces on Sunday evening arrested 14 suspects during two different operations conducted in Wadajir and Hodan districts in Benadir region of Mogadishu, an official said Monday.

Ministry of Internal Security spokesman Abdikamil Mo’allim Shukri said the operations which were conducted by National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) were aimed at securing the region as well as flush out criminals hiding inside the town.

“NISA officers carried out operations in Wadajir and Hodan districts on Sunday evening and arrested 14 Al-Shabaab suspects, two of them were behind the latest terrorist incidents in the capital Mogadishu,” Shukri said.

“The security forces arrested the suspects with motor bike in which they use for committing assassinations. We will investigate them,” Shukri added.

He called on Mogadishu residents to provide information that could lead to possible arrest of more terror suspects to enable security officers to thwart future attacks in the restive capital.

Somali National Army backed by the African Union Peacekeeping Forces removed Al-Shabaab from the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but the group often carries out deadly attacks against government and AU headquarters including social gatherings like hotels and restaurants in the town.

  

OUAGADOUGOU, (Xinhua) -- Burkina Faso will recruit over 24,000 civil servants in 2016, with about 20,000 of them recruited directly, a statement from the Public Service, Labour and Social Protection Ministry said Sunday.

Public Service Minister Clement Sawadogo who addressed the press in Ouagadougou, said 4,588 posts will be filled through a professional examination, 11,537 posts will be filled through direct recruitment and 7,917 posts will be filled through the newly introduced recruitment model.

The minister gave assurance that a rigorous procedure was underway to competitively recruit a human resource firm that will conduct the examinations to avert fraud that was witnessed last year.

In October 2015, results of the public service entry examinations were cancelled after most of the candidates complained of corruption. About 20 people were charged for engaging in corruption.

 

BAMAKO, (Xinhua) -- The driver of the vehicle used to transport perpetrators of the March 13 attack at Cote d’Ivoire’s beach resort of Grand Bassam, has been arrested in Bamako, Mali’s intelligence service said on Sunday.

The suspect, Alou Doumbia alias Man, is a 30-year old Malian working in the transport sector.

His arrest by the intelligence officers is due to ongoing investigations that were launched immediately after Grand Bassam attack, the statement said.

“The involvement of Doumbia and others in such an attack demonstrates how quickly the urban population has also fallen prey to terrorism. Urban dwellers are becoming easily manipulated by little money,” the statement said, while at the same time urging the population to remain vigilant to this new threat.

Mali’s intelligence service said “investigations are still going on and the questioning of Man and others will continue until the real perpetrators of the barbaric attack in Grand Bassam are arrested and prosecuted.”

Two suspects linked to this attack were arrested in northern Mali. One of the suspects is believed to be a close confidant of Kounta Dallah, the key suspect.

The attack, for which Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility, left 19 people dead, among them three Cote d’Ivoire special forces. 

  

South Sudanese armed group kills more than 200 at Ethiopia border: official

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Armed Group has attacked and killed 208 people in Gambella regional state of Ethiopia, on the border with South Sudan.

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) quoted the country’s government communication office as saying that the armed group infiltrated into Ethiopia through South Sudan border.

The armed group also abducted children during the attack on Friday.

EBC quoted Communications Affairs Office Minister Getachew Reda as saying that the attackers were members of South Sudan’s Murle tribe.

Getachew said Ethiopian security forces were chasing the attackers and had killed 60 so far.

He said the attackers were not thought to have any links to the South Sudanese government or rebels.

 

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector on Sunday said it shot down a Sudanese army helicopter in South Kordofan State.

“Our forces on Saturday launched attacks for four hours at al-Atmour-al-Nafra, west of Um Sirdiba area, and inflicted heavy loss of lives and military equipment among the government forces,” Arno Taloudy, spokesman of the SPLM/northern sector, said in a statement.

“In primary statistics, a government fighter helicopter has been shot down, three tanks and 10 vehicles have been destroyed, besides that, tens of government soldiers have been killed or injured,” he noted.

He said four of the movement’s soldiers were killed and 15 others injured.

The Sudanese army spokesman could not be contacted immediately to comment on the rebels’ claim.

The military confrontations between the Sudanese army and the rebels of the SPLM/northern sector have escalated since March 2015.

In this March, the Sudanese army announced controlling of Um Sirdiba area, one of the strongholds of the rebels of the SPLM/northern sector in South Kordofan State.

The SPLM/northern sector has been fighting the central government at Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas since 2011.

Last March, the peace talks between the government and the SPLM/northern sector rebels failed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, under the patronage of the African Union.

Khartoum unilaterally signed on a road-map deal proposed by the African mediation, while the SPLM/northern sector and other Darfur rebel movements declined to sign the deal.

 

12 killed in tribal clashes in Sudan’s East Darfur

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- At least 12 people were killed and nine others injured on Sunday in violent clashes between Rizeigat and Ma’liya Arab tribes in Sudan’s East Darfur State, Sudan Tribune reported.

“An armed group from Rizeigat tribe ambushed a group of members of Ma’liya near Khour Ta’an of Yassin locality in East Darfur State,” Sudan Tribune quoted a responsible source as saying.

“Seven members of Ma’liya tribe and five from Rizeigat tribe were killed, nine others were injured,” the source said.

The conflict between Rizeigat and Ma’liya dates back to 1966 when the first confrontation broke out between the two tribes due to dispute over pasture land claimed by both sides.

The most recent clashes between the two tribes took place in July 2014 where over 600 people were killed and 900 others injured from both sides, while more than 55,000 were displaced.

 

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s Vice-President designate Riek Machar has postponed his arrival in Juba to Tuesday due to logistical challenges, his spokesman said Monday. 

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) spokesman William Ezekiel said the rebel leader who was expected in the capital on Monday from his Pagak base was to take his oath of office immediately after his arrival. 

“Machar was due to arrive today from Pagak through Gambela in Ethiopia to Juba. Instead he will be arriving on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.,” Ezekiel told journalists in Juba without providing further details.

Machar’s advance team and 1,370 protection troops have arrived in Juba despite continued clashes between his troops with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria regions.

Civil war erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the country along ethnic lines.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke by phone with President Salva Kiir, and separately with Machar on Sunday ahead of Monday’s swearing in ceremony. 

Ban emphasized the importance of quickly establishing the Transitional Government of National Unity, which was agreed to as part of a peace agreement signed in August of last year by both President Kiir and his rival, Machar.

According to a readout issued in Juba on Monday by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) of the telephone calls, the UN chief also urged both leaders to continue working together with the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, former president Festus Mogae, and the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, former president Alpha Oumar Konare, towards the implementation of the peace agreement.

“The Secretary-General underscored the need to quickly form the Transitional Government of National Unity, as a crucial next step in the peace process. He reaffirmed the readiness of the UN to assist in all efforts to bring peace to South Sudan,” it said.

While speaking with President Kiir, Ban commended his decision to welcome Machar back to Juba and to swear him in as the first vice president.

The readout said Bank also called for the expeditious implementation of the security arrangements envisaged in the peace agreement and the withdrawal additional SPLA troops from Juba.

On his call with Machar, Ban welcomed the decision of the First Vice President Designate to return to Juba and urged him to work with President Kiir to prevent any further violence. 

  

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Algeria’s Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Mohamed Larbi Ould Khelifa on Sunday reaffirmed his country’s support for the Palestinian cause.

“Algeria has reaffirmed its firm position regarding the Palestinian cause,” Ould Khelifa said after meeting with visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Ould Khelifa hailed “the achievements carried out recently by the Palestinian diplomacy, notably the recognition by several European parliaments of the Palestinian State and the raising of the Palestinian flag at the United Nations.”

Ould Khelifa also called for the end of the internal Palestinian division between Abbas’ Fatah Party and the Islamic Hamas movement.

For his part, Hamdallah hailed Algeria’s continuing support for Palestine both politically and financially.

He said that “Palestine’s independence is a historical inevitability,” adding that “the formation of a national unity government before proceeding to the next election will hasten an end to the current state of division, and therefore would enable Palestinians to retrieve the right to establish an independent state.”

Hamdallah is paying a three-day visit to Algeria, which according to him will focus on reinforcing political consultations and economic ties between Palestine and Algeria.

The Palestinian prime minister also held talks with his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmalek Sellal, on Sunday.

Hamdallah’s visit to Algeria follows that of Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee and head of the Negotiation Affairs Department at the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to the North African country in January. 

  

14 militants killed, large war arsenal discovered in southern Algeria

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Algeria said on Sunday 14 armed militants have been killed since March and a big load of war arsenal discovered in the southeastern province of El Oued as part of a wide scale counter-terrorism operation.

“After killing 14 terrorists last month in the locality of Kouinine and retrieving a large consignment of arms and ammunition, detectives discovered another larger arms bunker in a remote area in El Oued province,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The arsenal was discovered following revelations of a terrorist before succumbing to his injuries, the statement said.

The second bunker, which was found on Friday, contained 127 war weapons of various types, a large quantity of ammunition of different calibers and 21 communication means, it added.

The seized arsenal is believed to be smuggled from violence-ridden Libya after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Algeria has been deploying more troops on the eastern borderline to prevent intrusion of arms and militants, amid unstable security situation in neighboring Tunisia, and a civil war in neighboring Libya.

Intelligence reports revealed that foreign terrorist groups were plotting to send their militants to Algeria to carry out attacks.

LIBYA-TRIPOLI-UN-KOBLER-PRESS CONFERENCE | COASTWEEK
TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Martin Kobler, UN special envoy and head of UN Support Mission in Libya, speaks during a press conference with Libyan deputy prime minister of the UN-backed government Ahmed Maiteeqin in Tripoli, Libya, April 17, 2016. XINHUA PHOTO: HAMZA TURKIA

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Libya’s UN-backed government on Sunday confirmed that the government will take over three ministries on Monday.

“Three official ministries will be taken over by the government on Monday. The take over will be administrative,” Ahmed Maiteeq, Libyan deputy prime minister of the UN-backed government, said in a press conference with Martin Kopler, the UN envoy to Libya.

Maiteeq said it includes the ministries of housing and utilities, sports and youth, and social affairs.

This is the first action taken by the government of national accord since its arrival in the capital Tripoli in March.

Based in the heavily guarded Abu Setta naval base in Tripoli, the new government is expected to bring stability and fight against the increasing dominance of IS affiliates.

Tripoli, until recently, was controlled by the self-proclaimed government of Khalifa Gwell, a government appointed after the so-called Libya Dawn militias took control of Tripoli in 2014 and revived the expired general national congress (parliament), forcing the elected parliament to move to the far eastern city of Tubrug and creating a political division in the country.

Gwell’s government decided to step down on April 5 after the arrival of the unity government from Tunisia.

The government of national accord was named based on a peace deal signed by Libya’s political rivals after almost a year of negotiations sponsored by the UN. 

  

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- The UN special envoy to Libya met here on Sunday with the Libyan presidency council, saying the newly formed government in Libya will tackle the challenges in the war-torn country.

“There are several challenges here now and the most important one is the expansion of the IS and the security situation,” Martin Kopler said in a joint press conference with Ahmed Maiteeq, Libyan deputy prime minister of the UN-backed government.

“This can only be tackled if there is a clear consensus to go ahead with the government of national accord,” he said.

Kopler said he will travel to Tubrug on Monday to meet with the house of representatives (parliament) “to encourage all to follow this way, to endorse the government of national accord.”

“The problem of terrorism is endemic; the humanitarian situation is dire; hospitals need medicines; people need bread. Only the government of national accord can bring the process forward,” Kopler said.

The government of national accord was named based on a political agreement signed by the Libyan political rivals that aims to end the country’s political crises after months of UN-sponsored political dialogue sessions.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE-CHINESE ENVOY-MEETING | COASTWEEK
BRAZZAVILLE, (Xinhua) -- Denis Sassou Nguesso (1st R), president of the Republic of Congo, meets with Chen Zhenggao (1st L), special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping and minister of housing and urban and rural construction, in Brazzaville April 17, 2016. XINHUA PHOTO: WANG BO

BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) -- Four people were Saturday night killed in two separate attacks by unidentified gunmen in two villages in Mugamba district, in Bururi province, 80 km south of the Burundian capital Bujumbura, Burundi National Radio reported Sunday.

The state-run radio reported that three of the victims were shot dead, including the bar owner, when unidentified gunmen stormed a bar at Nyatubuye village at about 19:30 (17:30 GMT).

According to the radio, all the victims were members of the Burundian ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).

The radio indicated that the fourth victim was killed by unidentified gunmen who shot him dead at his house at Muyange-Kavumu village at about 21:00 (19:00 GMT).

Meanwhile, the radio reported that another attack targeted the residence of a primary school director at Gozi, still in Mugamba district, without making casualties.

In the same night, another gunmen attack targeted the house of a teacher at Mwumba secondary school without either making casualties.

Some southern parts of Burundi - mainly Mugamba district - and the capital Bujumbura have been facing insecurity since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced the controversial decision to run for a third term which he eventually won in a presidential election boycotted by main opposition candidates in July.

 

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday learned with dismay of the death in detention in Gambia of political activist and opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) member Solo Sandeng and two fellow party members. 

They died following their arrest on Thursday for participating in a peaceful protest in Banjul, said the UN secretary-general’s spokesman in a statement.

After extending his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, Ban called on the authorities “to conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances that led to their death while under state custody,” it said.

 

Moreover, Ban was deeply concerned about the apparent use of excessive force and the arrest and detention of peaceful demonstrators on Thursday.

He called on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested, including UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, and uphold the rights of the Gambian people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, it said. 

  

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have kicked off mountain gorillas’ census to ascertain the exact number of gorilla population in those countries.

The three countries share gorilla habitat in the Virunga massif which comprises of a series of volcanic mountains that stretch from southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and eastern DRC covering Mgahinga gorilla park, volcanoes national park and Virunga national park in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC respectively.

Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species that live in the Virunga massif and are among major cash cows of the three country’s tourism sector.

The census exercise involves using the Global Positioning System (GPS) for the gorilla by trackers and park rangers from Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.

During the exercise enumerators follows a gorilla trail through Rwanda’s thick towering bamboos of the sanctuary until they located the nest site, from where they carry out a scientific recording, according to Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism officer at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

She told reporters on Saturday that the activity strengthens the accuracy of the previous census exercises.

“In gorillas’ census, one does not encounter gorillas; all they look for is a nest where gorillas slept the previous night. Enumerators take records of gorilla solid wastes and keep them for genetical examination, from which they determine the age and lineage of the identified specie,” Kariza explained.

According to conservation experts, gorillas never return to the nests where they slept in the previous night which makes it easy for trackers to have conclusive records.

According to statistics from the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration (GVTC) - a collaborative management of the Virunga Massif, currently, the number of gorillas in the Virunga Massif is estimated at 800.

Every five years, a census of gorillas is carried out in the Virunga Massif.

For the past five decades, gorillas in the Virunga massif have grown from 274 in 1972 to 480 as of last census conducted in 2010.

In 2005, Rwanda introduced Kwita-Izina (gorilla naming) ceremony that has become an annual international event.

Rwanda will this year in September name 19 baby gorillas that were born late 2015 and this year.

Dr. Georges Muamba Tshibasu, executive Secretary, GVTC, said that normal reproduction rate of the gorillas has significantly increased in the recent past, due to the increased collaboration and security in the three countries covering the Virunga Massif.

“The census results will be released in 2017, and this will enable our collaboration to enhance gorilla conservation efforts,” said Muamba. 

  

Sexually transmitted infection may soon become untreatable: health experts warn

LONDON, (Xinhua) -- Cases of an antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted infection have been detected in London after initially being found only in the north, Public Health England (PHE) said Sunday.

Urging people to practice safe sex, the government health agency gave a grim warning that if the current cases of a so-called “super gonorrhoea” become resistant to all forms of antibiotic there is currently no new drug available and the infection could become untreatable.

The safe-sex call comes as an increase in antibiotic resistant cases of the super gonorrhoea continues, a further sign of the very real threat of antibiotic resistance to the ability to treat infections, said PHE.

A national alert was sounded in November, 2014, when the first case was detected in the Yorkshire city of Leeds, with doctors discovering one of the main treatments had become useless against it.

This total number of cases confirmed in England, between November 2014 and April 2016, has now increased to 34, but the number of men and women with the infection could well be much higher as there are often no signs a person is infected.

“PHE continues to monitor and investigate gonorrhoea cases that are highly resistant to the antibiotic ‘azithromycin’,” said the agency.

“Cases first emerged in the north of England in November 2014. Microbiologists and sexual health doctors in England are being notified that since September 2015 further cases have been confirmed in the West Midlands and in the South of England,” added the agency.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Consultant Scientist and Head of the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Section at PHE, said Sunday: “We continue to maintain an enhanced level of surveillance to identify and manage cases of high-level azithromycin resistant gonorrhoea.”

“Since September 2015, 11 cases have been confirmed in the West Midlands and in the South of England, 5 of which were in London. Cases to date have been confirmed in both heterosexual men and women and in men who have sex with men,” said Hughes.

“Fortunately, the current outbreak strain can still be treated with ceftriaxone. Nonetheless, we know that the bacterium that causes gonorrhoea can rapidly develop resistance to other antibiotics that are used for treatment, so we cannot afford to be complacent,” explained Hughes.

“If strains of gonorrhoea emerge that are resistant to both azithromycin and ceftriaxone treatment options would be limited as there is currently no new antibiotic available to treat the infection,” Hughes warned.

 

Nigeria, China currency swap forces USD rate down:
Bureau de Change association

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria’s plan to increase the availability of renminbi (Yuan) has already favored the Naira against the U.S. dollar, a top official with the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria said Sunday.

Aminu Gwadabe, President of the Association disclosed this to reporters in Abuja, saying since the announcement, the Naira had appreciated by 10 naira against the dollar.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd and the Central Bank of Nigeria signed a deal on Yuan transactions, as a way to resuscitate the current currency slump in Nigeria.

The deal meant the Yuan will flow freely around Nigerian banks and will even be included in the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

Since 2014 when Yuan was recognized as a likely global reserve currency, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe have integrated the currency into their financial markets.

Gwadabe said the dollar was now changing for 310 as against the former rate of 320 and predicted that once the policy is in force, the price of dollar will continue to fall.

He told reporters that this new policy will help the informal payment sector.

“You know more than 50 percent of foreign businesses in Nigeria is with China and before now, Nigerians doing business in China have to change their money to dollar, then from dollar to Yuan,” he added.

“You can all testify to the number of made in China things in the country. So if small and large businesses can convert straight to Yuan, it’s better,” he told reporters.

He urged the CBN to monitor the development closely for effective implementation of the policy. 

 

DJIBOUTI, (Xinhua) -- The Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI Alliance) over the weekend officially launched in Djibouti the new anti-polio vaccine, Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), which replaces Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).

Organized in collaboration with Djibouti’s Health Ministry, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the launch of the new vaccine was in line with the broader vaccination program in Djibouti.

“This vaccine will be administered to children aged below one year and it will greatly reduce the risks of having a child contract polio... It is therefore important that each child gets vaccinated,” Djibouti’s Health Minister Kassim Issack Osman said.

He said the IPV vaccine will not only protect children against Type Three polio, but also against the other two strains of the disease.

According to the Global Initiative for Eradication of Polio, the oral polio vaccine will be progressively withdrawn and doses of IPV will be increased to guarantee the total elimination of the disease.

Official statistics show that the last case of polio in the country was reported in 2002.

Polio is an acute and sometimes devastating disease that causes inflammation of the central nervous system. The disease can cause paralysis or even death.

 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to prioritize the construction of electricity transmission lines that will help in scaling up generation of renewable energy.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) Managing Director Fernandes Barasa told Xinhua in Nairobi on Sunday that additional transmission lines will be constructed to produce 1646MW of geothermal and 630 MW of wind power in the next five years.

“The aim is to increase the proportion of renewable energy in our power mix,” Barasa said, noting that the East African nation wants to reduce its reliance of diesel power generators in remote areas.

“This will help the country to reduce the overall cost of electricity,” he said.

The East African nation’s total installed electricity capacity is approximately 2298 MW. This power includes 820 MW hydro, 663 MW of diesel, 593 MW of geothermal, 54MW of gas turbines, and about 22.5MW wind.

Barasa said Kenya has a geothermal potential of over 7,000 MW.

“Geothermal represents a clean, affordable and reliable source of power,” he said.

KETRACO is set to receive 25 million U.S. dollars from the government in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Under its five-year strategic plan, it requires 3 billion dollars to construct 7,000 Kilometers of new electricity lines.

Barasa said the firm will source the funds from internal and external revenue sources.

According to KETRACO, the new lines will open up geographical areas without access to national grid. 

  

12 killed in truck crash in Upper Egypt

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- At least 12 people were killed as two trucks collided Sunday on a highway in Upper Egypt, official MENA news agency reported.

The two trucks crashed at the new Safaga-Sohag highway connecting between the Red Sea coastal province southeastern the capital Cairo and Sohag province in Upper Egypt.

The Red Sea authorities sent nine ambulances to the accident scene and the 12 bodies were taken to Safaga morgue.

Such accidents are common in the most populous Arab country due to lack of highway monitoring systems, poor road maintenance and negligence of traffic rules.

On Saturday, eight people were killed and eight others wounded as a vehicle crashed into a passing train in southern Egypt’s Aswan province. Earlier in February, at least 11 were killed and over 100 wounded in separate car and train accidents nationwide.

Road accidents take about 12,000 lives in Egypt every year, according to the World Health Organization.

 

11 supporters of S. African ruling party killed in traffic accident

CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua) -- Eleven supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) were killed on Sunday when the bus they were travelling in overturned, authorities said.

The supporters were returning home to Ekurhuleni in Gauteng Province after attending the launch of the ANC’s local election manifesto in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province.

The bus overturned between Winburg and Ventersburg in Free State Province, police said.

The ANC said in a statement that it has learnt with sadness of the fatal accident.

The ANC is still clarifying details about the accident and will issue further details once all pertinent information has been verified, the party’s national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

“Our thoughts are with the injured and bereaved at this time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Free State Premier Ace Magashule pledged to do everything in his power to ensure road safety following the accident.

“We shall do everything in our power to ensure that our roads are safe and that lives are continually saved,” Magashule said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation, police said.

The ANC launched its local election manifesto on Saturday. The elections are scheduled for August 3

  

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- Five illegal miners have been killed in an underground blast at the Klipwal Mine in KwaZulu-Natala Province, the company confirmed on Sunday. 

Four of the miners were killed instantly and another later succumbed to his injuries, a company statement said.

Three people were arrested for being involved in illegal mining operations and eight others escaped, according to the statement.

The company said they received a report on Friday from police about an accident, following which mine management dispatched a team underground to verify if this had occurred.

Despite an extensive search and rescue operation, five illegal miners have lost their lives in a blast, the statement said.

It said the area where the illegal operations were carried out has collapsed completely, and the rescue team were forced to evacuate the area due to ongoing hanging wall collapses.

The accident highlights the seriousness of illegal mining in South Africa. An intensified crackdown has failed to curb the scourge.

In September last year, 11 illegal miners were killed by an explosion underground in an abandoned gold mine in Benoni near Johannesburg.

The South African Chamber of Mines estimates that illegal mining costs South Africa 5.6 billion rand (about 386 million U.S. dollars) in lost revenue every year.

 

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- Tanzania is set to use this year’s international gemstone fair to promote East African mineral potentials, an official said on Sunday.

Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Medard Kalemani disclosed this here when speaking ahead of the Arusha Gem Fair, which is to be held next week in Tanzania’s northern safari capital of Arusha.

According to the minister, the three-day event dubbed: “Arusha Gem Fair” is to involve more than 600 miners, jewellers and mineral dealers from across the world.

Kalemani said that the international gemstone fair is to involve all players in Tanzania’s mining industry as well as licensed gem dealers, jewellers, and gemstone miners.

According to the minister, this year’s fair is in line with fulfilling Tanzania’s ambitions of turning Arusha into Africa’s largest gemstone hub.

Kalemani said the fair is to link more than 100 exhibitors from the east, central and southern African countries with over 500 international buyers.

“The fair is also expected to involve renowned stakeholders in the field of gemstone,” organizers said, adding that the AGF is meant to scale-up mineral business in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

The government has issued a temporary suspension of gemstone exports between April 5 and 28, this year.

“We wish to confirm that gems to be exhibited at the 5th Arusha Gem Fair (AGF) this year will be granted permission for temporary importation in accordance with the requirements of the laws governing temporary importation. However, for control purposes, you will be required to confirm your participation along with the goods you intend to bring to AGF in advance,” he said.

“The move is meant to ensure that there are enough gemstones on display during the exhibition,” he said, adding that export permits will be granted from April 19 until the fair is completed.

The 2016 AGF is expected to attract about 65 exhibitors from Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Uganda. The list will have some of the most reputable names in the business including the likes of Tanzanite One Mining Limited, Williamson Diamond Limited (Petra Diamonds), GIA (South Africa) and many others.

A comprehensive list will be printed on the AGF 2016 Show Guide.

The show features a wide variety of colored gemstones and diamonds. Fair activities will include showing of rough and cut stones, lapidary equipment, educational material, lapidary demonstrations, seminars and panels, keynote speakers and mine tours. 

  

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- Hanang is one of the five districts in northern Tanzania’s region of Manyara, which was hardly hit by the recent flash floods.

The impact of floods is still in the memories of hundreds of small-scale farmers in the district, which was named after Mount Hanang, the last and most southerly of the volcanoes in the Rift valley of northern Tanzania and the fourth highest mountain in Tanzania.

A 71-year-old Sulle Ginanai is one of farmers who were highly affected by the floods. He couldn’t save anything from his five acres of cereal crops he planted early this year, which were swept by the flash floods.

The old man has described the floods as the worst he has ever seen in the area, located more than 200 kilometers from the Tanzania’s northern safari capital of Arusha.

“We are not expecting anything from our farms this year. I don’t know how I am going to survive the entire year without anything in my granary,” Ginanai told Xinhua.

He projects that hunger was looming in the district, where more than 900 acres of farmland in the district have washed away, the situation that puts thousands of people in the area to be on the verge of a food crisis.

Reuben John is a Manyara-based environmentalist, who said the recent flash floods were a result of rampant tree felling in the area, which in the past was covered with forests.

“The land is almost bare, because of environmental degradation. Our message has been clear as most of the time as we’re urging farmers to be environmental sensitive when doing their farming activities,” he said, suggesting the need for farmers to venture into conservation farming or non-tillage farming.

“This will make farmers safe from floods,” said Reuben, who works with Tanzanian Community Forestry Network.

“We are encouraging farmers to get out from traditional farming by embracing new farming techniques-conservation farming which has multiple benefits-conserve the environment as well as improving yields,” said Dominick Ringo, who is a researcher with the Arusha-based NGO-Research Community and Organization Development Associates (RECODA).

Hanang District Commissioner, Thobias Mwilapwa said that in the torrential rains which started since February, this year, destroyed everything in people’s farms.

“The floods have caused severe soil erosion in the area,” the DC said.

So far, according to Mwilapwa, the floods have caused relentless loss since many residents have also been left homeless and are now supported by their relatives.

The infrastructure has been damaged and some of the roads have been rendered impassable.

DC Mwilapwa said: “The floods have caused a great loss as of today. I was supposed to attend a public meeting in Mulbadaw Ward, but I have failed to be there because the road is extensively damaged.”

Reports said that floods also killed 68 livestock, as well as destroying stored maize worth millions of Tanzanian shillings.

“We are waiting for relief food from the Prime Minister’s Office. Some of the residents have helped the victims of the floods,” the DC said.

In order to prevent famine, authorities in the district called residents to grow the crops which can sustain droughts such as sorghum, cassava, potatoes and other crops.

  

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government has inaugurated the distribution of relief materials to no fewer than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who returned to various communities in the states of Adamawa and Taraba.

The exercise was on the platform of the Presidential Initiative for the North East, Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation said on Saturday.

He said government would reach out to all states affected by disasters, natural or man-made.

The materials were meant to assist the returnees’ to re-start their lives in their respective communities and advised them to make good use of the materials.

Among items distributed were food, building materials and wrappers.

  

LOME, (Xinhua) -- Burkina Faso cyclist Sorgho Mathias won Togo 25th International cycling race that ended in the capital city of Lome on Sunday.

In team classification, Burkina Faso also won the first place.

The six-stage race of 639.5km kicked off on April 12 with the participation of 56 cyclists from seven countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, France, Togo and Burkina Faso. 

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