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17 die, 10 missing as four African migrant boats sink off Tunisian coast

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At least 17 African migrants have died while 10 were reported missing after four boats carrying around 120 people sank off the Tunisian coast of Sfax as they tried to embark on the dangerous mission of crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, a Tunisian security official, Lt. Col. Ali Aayari, said on Sunday.

Aayari, who is in the Tunisian Coast Guard, added on that 98 migrants were “rescued off the coast of Sfax by rescue officials when the incident” which happened on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, 17 of the migrants and refugees died when the makeshift boats sank. The boats were four and most of the migrants were women and children. 10 people are still missing while 98 were rescued by officials,” Aayari said.

The coastline of Sfax has been notorious for being a major departure point for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East and seeking a better life in Europe, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in reaction to the accident.

In recent months, dozens of people have drowned off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy, the UNHCR said.

The Tunisian Interior Ministry said earlier in the week that it had arrested more than 20,000 refugees and migrants off its coast last year while at least 15,000 reached the coast of Italy in 2021.

Earlier this month, 13 African migrants, including six children and four women, were confirmed dead when their boats sank off the Tunisian coast on their way to Europe, a judicial official in the country, Mourad Turki, said.

“Another 10 migrants were declared missing as the two make-shift boats sank off the coast of Sfax, while 37 were rescued. Among the bodies recovered were four women and six children,” Turki added in a statement.

Majority of the migrants were said to be from sub-Saharan Africa and had set off in the two boats to cross the Mediterranean into European countries in search of greener pastures, with many of them fleeing conflicts and poverty in their countries

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Nigeria: Zamfara state government wants gun licenses for residents over insecurity

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The Commissioner for information in one of Nigeria’s Northern states, Zamfara state says residents in the state can start approaching the police command in the state for gun licences.

The troubled state wants individuals to carry guns to defend themselves against armed gangs of kidnappers causing havoc in the country’s northwest.

The commissioner, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara in statement said the state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.

“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves,” Dosara said.

The state also banned the use of motorcyles and selling of petrol in three districts and one emirate, in areas which are the most affected by banditry, Dosara said. The state is divided into emirates and the emirates into districts.

“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight,” said Dosara.

Gunmen, locally called bandits, have been attacking and killing thousands of people in the country’s North-west since 2017. These assailants have attacked rural dwellers, destroyed their farmlands and in many cases only allow them to the farm after they have paid protection fees. They have also targeted travellers across the region in what some analysts say is one of the most lucrative kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the continent.

Owning a gun in Zamfara needs permission from the state governor and state police commissioner.

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Ex-Liberian rebel warlord charged in US over attempt to obtain citizenship fraudulently

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A former commanding general of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), a notorious rebel group during the West African country’s civil war, Moses Wright, who had sought asylum in the US has been charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain US citizenship, among other crimes.

According to the United States Justice Department, the 69-year-old Wright lied about his involvement in the persecuting and killing of non-combatants during the war when he applied for US citizenship.

If convicted, Wright faces a maximum possible sentence of 165 years in prison and a $7m (£5.7m) fine, according to the JD.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” the United States Attorney, Jacqueline C. Romero, said on the indictment of Wright.

The indictment of Wright comes after two other former combatants in Liberia’s civil war, Mohammed Jabbateh and Thomas Woewiyu, were convicted in the US for similar offences while a third rebel leader, Sekou Kamara, was arrested earlier this year in New York.

The AFL was responsible for death of an estimated 250,000 Liberians which amounted to around 8% of the population at the time, in the war which started from 1989 to 1997 and in 1999 to 2003, according to a report by the Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in late 2021, which described the AFL as a “significant violator group found to be behind some of the civil war’s largest scale massacres.”

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