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UN deploys more troops to Mali tri-border area with Burkina Faso, Niger as terrorist attacks continue

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The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has deployed two units to the African country’s tri-border area with Burkina Faso and Niger to respond to a spate of civilian killings, it said on Thursday.

This comes after a recent surge in terrorist attacks in the troubled West African country. One of such was the attack on two Egyptian peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in Mali MINUSMA and two Malian soldiers were killed last month in two separate events in Mali.

The special United Nations peacekeeping force was established in Mali on 25 April 2013 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2100 to stabilize the country after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012. It was officially deployed on 1 July and has become the UN’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission, with 209 peacekeepers killed out of a force of about 15,200.

“The security situation in the Tri-border area… particularly in the localities of Tessit, Talataye, Ansongo and the Menaka region, has deteriorated considerably in recent weeks,” said the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA.

MINUSMA deployed one unit to the area over a week ago and was in the process of deploying another on Thursday, it said, adding that the attacks have resulted in “dozens of deaths”.

At least 500 civilians have been killed in the last three weeks in the regions of Gao and Menaka, said a military source, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.

The Mali War started in January 2012 between the northern and southern parts of Mali in Africa with several insurgent groups, Jihadist and separatist fighters with affiliations with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began fighting a campaign against the Malian government for independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali, which they called Azawad. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization fighting to make this area of Mali an independent homeland for the Tuareg people, had taken control of the region by April 2012.

Until recently, French-led military intervention ousted jihadists who were taking control of northern Mali, and troops remained to provide support for anti-terrorist operations. But deteriorating relations with Mali’s new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup, have prompted France to reconsider its role in the country.

Metro

$5m forfeited to govt in seized plane scandal that rocked Zambia

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The Zambian government has been made $5 million richer following a court ruling that ordered the forfeiture of the sum seized in a gold scam scandal that rocked the nation last year.

The same ruling also mandated the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to release the plane involved in the scandal to its owners after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Gilbert Phiri, and other interested parties in the criminal case entered into a consent judgment.

The Global Express T77WSS Jet, was confiscated at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Lusaka last year on suspicion of ferrying gold from the country worth millions of dollars after landing from Cairo, Egypt.

In the consent judgement signed on April 10, the owner of the disputed jet, World Aviation Sinai International Mountains Limited, through one of its Directors, Michael Adel Michel Botros, an Egyptian, agreed to surrender the $5 million to the Zambian government in exchange for the plane.

The DPP, Gilbert Phiri, on the other hand, consented to the immediate release of the the aircraft to its owners

The jet was reportedly hired by a management company known as Ibis Air PTY Limited.

The parties further agreed on the other properties seized comprising of 602 pieces of brass pellets, a combination of Copper and Zinc metals, weighing 127.28 kilograms purported to have been valued at about $7,636,800 from Zambia to Egypt.

The consent judgement read:

“That DEC shall release the aircraft, namely, Global Express T77WSS Jet, to the first and second interested parties forthwith:

“That the third interested party Michael Adel Michel Botros shall surrender the sum of $5,000,000.00 only to the government of the Republic of Zambia.

“That the sum of $697,700.00 be released to the third interested party Michael Adel Michel Botros through his advocates to cover some of the attendant costs of facilitating and servicing the aircraft, namely, Global Express T77WSS Jet in order for it to achieve optimal airworthiness.

“All other items seized by DEC be surrendered to the State: and we consent to the order in the terms herein set out.”

In an affidavit in opposition to the DPP’s application filed last year, Ibis Air (PTY) Limited director, Baher Fawzi Mohamed Aldamasy, an Egyptian and a resident in South Africa had stated that the State’s procedure of seizure was irregular as the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act describes the Jet as premises and not property.

Aldamasy had argued that the owner or Ibis was under no obligation to inquire into the work history or activities of the client beyond that which is necessary to determine the rates, safety of the jet and operation as per the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

He stated that the jet was hired to be used for three hours with the flight plan indicated Cairo to Lusaka and then Lusaka to Cairo.

Botros had also argued that he was a victim of a gold scam which also involved government officials but the DPP wanted an order to have the jet used in the gold scam scandal forfeited to the State.

Five Zambians, business man Sedrick Kasanda, Patrick Kawanu Jnr(Pilot), Jim Belemu(Mahogany Air Chief Executive Officer), Robson Moonga, and Francis Mateyo, are currently undergoing trial in the Lusaka High Court on charge of espionage.

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Tanzania, Rwanda others recall Johnson & Johnson children’s cough syrup

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As a safety step, drug regulators in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe have called back a batch of Johnson & Johnson children’s cough syrup after their counterparts in Nigeria said that lab tests showed high levels of toxicity.

These countries are the fourth and fifth to recall the same batch of syrup. The syrup is used to treat children with coughs, hay fever, and other allergic responses. South Africa has also called back another group.

Nigeria’s health regulator, NAFDAC found a high amount of diethylene glycol in the syrup. This chemical has been linked to the deaths of dozens of children in Gambia, Uzbekistan, and Cameroon since 2022, in one of the worst waves of poisoning from oral medications in the world. Diethylene glycol is dangerous for people to eat or drink and can cause sudden kidney failure.

J&J made the recalled batch of Benylin Paediatric syrup in South Africa in May 2021. However, the brand is now owned by Kenvue (KVUE.N), which split off from J&J last year. The Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) said the recall began on April 12 after learning about the test results in Nigeria.

“This is an exercise that does not involve investigation but rather monitoring to ensure that those affected drugs are removed from the market,” TMDA spokesperson Gaudensia Simwanza told Reuters on Monday.

A spokesperson for Kenya’s drug regulator said its test results on the syrup would likely be ready on Wednesday. “A review of our safety database doesn’t reveal any adverse events reported,” the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority said in a statement dated April 12. “However, Rwanda FDA issues the present recall for precautionary measures.”

The Medicines Control Agency of Zimbabwe said it didn’t know when the product was brought into the country, but it was worried that the syrup could get into the market without permission. In this case, it said it would do more checks.

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