UN BLOCKED FROM SOUTH SUDAN TOWN AMID REPORTS OF KILLINGS

JUBA, April 8 (NNNN-AGENCIES) -- UN peacekeepers in South Sudan say they have twice been prevented from accessing the town of Pajok, where the army is accused of killing civilians.

The peacekeepers say they are concerned about reports of fighting and attacks on civilians. They are calling to be allowed to visit the area in the south of the country.

Several thousand people have fled Pajok into neighbouring Uganda.

The army has denied targeting civilians and blamed the killings on bandits.

Some of the refugees said government troops shot their relatives as they ran, or arrested and then killed them.

Refugees in Uganda say soldiers arrived in Pajok on Sunday and began opening fire on residents at random.

One told the BBC there had been beheadings, children had been attacked and looting had taken place.

Other reports said some residents had their throats slit before their bodies were strung up from door frames.

A South Sudanese rebel group, the National Salvation Front, has called for an investigation.

South Sudan's civil war has caused more than 2.2m people to flee their homes.

The UN has said that ethnic cleansing is taking place and has warned of a possible genocide.

--NNN-AGENCIES

AL-SHABAB DISMISSES SOMALI PRESIDENT WAR DECLARATION

MOGADISHU, April 8 (NNN-AGENCIES) --Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab has dismissed President Mohamed Abdullahi Faramajo's declaration of war.

The response was carried on the Somali Memo website which is affiliated to the al-Qaeda-linked group.

On Thursday, Farmajo offered the militants an amnesty at the same time as declaring war on the group.

The UN-backed government in Mogadishu has been fighting the militants for control of Somalia for nearly a decade.

Farmajo promised that fighters who gave themselves up within 60 days would get training, employment and education.

The president's statement was made "just to please the West", an al-Shabab official is quoted as saying.

Farmajo announced the amnesty at a news conference in the capital, Mogadishu, dressed in full military fatigues.

"We want to pardon the Somali youth who were misled by al-Shabab," he said.

He also announced a major shakeup in the drought-stricken country's security services.

Senior officers in Somalia's intelligence service and police force have been replaced to prepare for the escalating war against the militants.

Farmajo named a new military commander, director of national security and intelligence, commander of police and a new head of prison forces.

The new president was elected in February promising a "new beginning" for the country.

Source: NAM News Network

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