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Ethiopia/Tigray crisis: Rebels agree to respect government ‘unilateral truce’

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Rebels from the Tigray region in Ethiopia said they will respect the cessation of hostilities declared by the Ethiopian government, saying it was to allow aid to flow into Tigray.

Ethiopia’s government on Thursday declared an immediate, unilateral truce in its conflict with rebellious Tigrayan forces to allow aid into the northern province, although it was not clear how it would enforce it.

A ceasefire or truce is “a suspension of acts of violence by military and paramilitary forces, usually resulting from the intervention of a third party. It signals an attempt to reach a more comprehensive and permanent settlement of an armed conflict. Ceasefires can be unilateral: a party can declare a ceasefire without seeking a ceasefire from the other side as the Ethiopian government has declared.

“The government of Tigray will do everything it can do to make sure this cessation of hostilities is a success,” the regional Tigrayan government said in a statement.

The Tigray Region is the northernmost regional state in Ethiopia. The Region is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob and Kunama people. Formerly known as Region 1, its capital and largest city is Mekelle. Tigray is the fifth-largest by area, the fifth-most populous, and the fifth-most densely populated of the 11 regional states in Ethiopia. 96 per cent of Tigrayans are Orthodox Christian.

War broke out between Tigray’s rulers – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – and the central government led by Abiy, in November 2020. Since the outbreak of the war, which began in Tigray (northern Ethiopia) and then spread to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, has been marked by numerous allegations of abuses on both sides.

United Nations rights chief, Bachelet raised alarm in February at the growing human rights and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. She said the 16-month conflict between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, has spread into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.

According to the UN, since mid-February humanitarian operations had to relocate to serve the needs of more than four hundred thousand displaced civilians.

Report says fighting in the Afar region has so far prevented convoys carrying food aid and fuel from delivering the supplies since the only operational road between Semera, the capital of Afar, and Mekele, the capital of Tigray was blocked.

Metro

Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya targeted assassination, investigators say

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A team of Pakistani investigators who investigated the killing of veteran journalist and news anchor, Arshad Sharif, in Kenya, have released a report saying his murder was a planned and targeted assassination’.

Sharif, who was very critical of Pakistan’s government andpowerful army, was killed on October 23 when police shot at his car on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The Kenyan Police was to later release a statement saying it regretted the incident, claiming it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car involved in a child abduction case.

“This was a planned, targeted assassination … rather than a case of mistaken identity as the Kenyan police claimed,” the report said.

The report further suggested the bullet that fatally wounded Sharif was fired from either inside the car or from close range.

Sharif’s killing had led to condemnations and calls for an independent probe with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, announcing an investigation and promising that his government’s findings would be made public.

The investigators’ 592-page report released on Wednesday, seen by said the Kenyan Police issued contradictory statements following the killing of the 49-year-old journalist who was living in exile after he fled Pakistan in August to avoid arrest in the wake of multiple cases, including sedition charges, slapped on him for making comments on his show which the military and government deemed inciting and offensive.

As part of the investigation, two Pakistani officials had travelled to Kenya where they met with police and Sharif’s brothers Khurram and Waqar Ahmed, are residents in the eastern African country.

According to the report, Khurram told the investigators he had been in the car with Sharif at the time of the shooting, travelling home after dinner.

“They saw the roadblock, which Khurram believed to have been set up by robbers. As they sped through, he heard the fatal gunshots,” part of the report said.

“Khurram said he then called his brother who advised that he keep driving until they reached the family’s farmhouse, several kilometres away. Once at the house, the brothers found Sharif was already dead,” it added.

Meanwhile, Islamabad police have charged two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya, who had hosted Sharif in the African country, with involvement in his killing.

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Metro

Nigerian Army denies Reuters reports of forced “abortion programme” for Boko Haram victims

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The Nigerian Army has debunked a report by international media outfit, Reuters, which indicted the military authorities of forcefully terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies for female victims of Boko Haram jihadists who were abducted and impregnated by the terrorists in northeast Nigeria.

The news agency had, in a report on Wednesday, accused the Nigerian military of “conducting years-long illicit programme to carry out abortions among women and girls who have been victims of armed groups.”

“Since at least 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls,” the agency said.

It also said many of the women and girls had been kidnapped and raped by the armed fighters, and those who resisted an abortion ran the risk of being “beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged into compliance.”

Reuters said its report was based on witness statements from 33 women and girls, five health workers, and nine security personnel involved in the alleged programme, and on military documents and hospital records describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures.

“Most of the abortions were carried out without the women’s consent and some were conducted without their prior knowledge, through abortion-inducing pills or injections passed off as medications to boost health or combat disease,” the agency said.

But in a response on Thursday, the Nigerian Army denied the report, describing it as “a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture.”

In a statement signed by Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Nwachukwu, said “Nigerian military personnel have been raised, bred and further trained to protect lives.”

“The Nigerian military will not, therefore, contemplate such evil of running a systematic and illegal abortion programme anywhere and anytime, and surely not on our own soil,” the statement said.

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