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Moroccan police seizes over 31 tonnes of cannabis in warehouse near Tangier, 61-year-old man arrested

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Days after the Police in Ivory Coast seized a record cocaine haul, there has been another record-breaking drug seizure in Africa as the Moroccan police have announced a record seizure of more than 31 tonnes of cannabis in a warehouse near Tangier, in the north of the kingdom.

According to a statement by the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN), the Moroccan police “foiled a major international drug trafficking operation and seized a record shipment of 31 tons 197 kilograms of chira (cannabis resin),”

The drug “was packaged and stuffed in fruit and vegetable figurines, the colour and size of which are likely to facilitate their exit from Morocco as agricultural products destined for export.” The statement said further.

The DGSN revealed that a 61-year-old man with a criminal record was arrested and placed in police custody on suspicion of links with a criminal network involved in international drug trafficking,”

Moroccan law provides for a maximum prison sentence of 30 years for drug-related offences, as well as fines for lesser drug-related offences ranging from 15 000 to 60 000 euros. Prison sentences ranging from ten to fifteen years remain the most common sentence for drug traffickers sentenced in Morocco.

Investigations are still ongoing to “determine all the regional and international ramifications of this criminal network”.

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Metro

M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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Metro

237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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