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Congo rebel group, M23 announces retreat from captured Congo villages

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The March 23 Movement (M23) rebel group, on Sunday, announced that it would retreat from the villages that came under its control at the end of last week in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The rebel group said it wanted a peaceful resolution of the crisis and called the authorities to start a fruitful dialogue, the fighters also expressed their intention “to hand over to the Red Cross, all soldiers of the Congolese army captured on the front line”.

The M23 took the “decision to withdraw, once more, from its newly-won positions to allow for its concerns to be addressed through open and fruitful dialogue with the government of DR Congo”, the group said on Sunday.

The M23 “never had the intention to capture areas to run them, our only motivation is the peaceful resolution of the crisis,” it added in a statement.

Clashes between the rebels and soldiers flared up last Wednesday after days of calm when rebels from the group took control of some villages in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu province, local sources said.

The M23 also said it intended “to hand over all soldiers from the national army captured on the frontline to the International Committee of the Red Cross for proper care”

The M23 was formed by former members of a Congolese Tutsi armed group that was once supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The rebels had been incorporated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed on March 23, 2009. In 2012, they mutinied, saying the deal had not been upheld and naming their group the March 23 (M23) Movement.

Becoming one of the scores of armed groups that roam eastern DR Congo, the M23 briefly seized the city of Goma before being defeated and forced out of the country.

After its defeat, the M23 eventually signed an accord with the government that included provisions for its fighters to reintegrate into civilian society; but the group has again accused the government of reneging on the deal and resumed fighting last year.

UN investigators have previously accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23. Both countries, which intervened militarily in Congo during two regional wars 20 years ago, denied the allegation.

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Zambian government moves to retrieve body of student killed while fighting in Russia-Ukraine war

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Zambian authorities have resolved to send a delegation to Russia next week to retrieve the body of a 23-year-old Zambian student, Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, who died while fighting for the Russian military in Ukraine.

Nyirenda’s family and the government are, however, still waiting for answers from Moscow on how he was recruited into the army while serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

Spokesman for the Zambian Ministry of Information and Media, Thabo Kawana, who confirmed this in a statement on Saturday, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is spearheading efforts to bring the body of Nyirenda back to the country for burial.

“The government is also offering support during this trying moment and doing everything they can to arrange for the funeral and repatriation of the body back to Zambia,” Kawana said.

“Using our diplomatic channels and our all-weather cooperation between Russia and ourselves, we will be able to get to the bottom of this matter,” he added.

Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Stanley Kakubo, at a press conference earlier in the week, said that Nyirenda who had been studying at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, was serving a nine-year prison sentence for a drug offense.

He said Nyirenda was killed on the front lines in September, but Russian authorities only just informed Zambia of the death while Zambia is demanding answers over the student’s death and why he had been sent to Ukraine.

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Algerian court sentences 49 people to death for lynching citizen over forest fires

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An Algerian court has sentenced 49 people to death for lynching and burning a citizen, Jamal Ben Ismail, and mutilating his body in the Kabylia region after he was wrongly accused him of causing a vast forest fire in which over 90 people were killed, the Algerian Press Service reports.

However, according to the Algerian moratorium on executions enacted in 1993, the sentences would be concerted to life imprisonment terms.

The report by the APS on Friday said the Casablanca Court of First Instance in Algiers, also handed down judgements “ranging from ten to two years enforceable imprisonment against 28 defendants, in addition to fines ranging from 100 to 200,000 Algerian dinars, while it acquitted 17 other defendants.”

“All the accused were prosecuted on multiple charges, particularly the offence of committing “terrorist acts and subversion against the state security and national unity, involvement in deliberate and premeditated murder.

“Other charges were assault with violence against members of the public force, dissemination of hate speech and incitement to destroy the property of others and armed gathering,” according to the APS.

Local media reports that the then 38-years-old Ismail, had voluntarily gone to a town in Tizi Ouzou in the northwest of the country to help extinguish forest fires.

“When he learned that some of the town’s residents suspected him of being involved in setting fires because he was a stranger to the region, he rushed to hand himself to the police, however, a large crowd of angry citizens snatched him from the hands of the police, tortured him, burned him alive and mutilated his body,” a media report said.

Some videos circulated on social media showed crowds surrounding the police car where Ben Ismail was held, they then dragged him out and started beating him.

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