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UN shocked as more than 200 killed in renewed ethnic fighting in Sudan’s Darfur

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, says the global human rights body is shocked at the wanton killings that have seen more than 200 people dead in the troubled Darfur region in Sudan.

Bachelet who expressed her disappointment in a statement on Wednesday, demanded an “impartial and independent” investigations into the attacks following fighting that erupted in the troubled region between members of the Massalit community and Arab fighters since Friday.

In the statement, the UN human rights chief she was “appalled” at the spike in the ethnic violence which has spread “in and around the West Darfur state capital El Geneina” and has worsened the situation in the “vast, arid and impoverished region long awash with guns.”

“I am appalled. I am in shock. I am concerned that this region continues to see repeated, serious incidents of intercommunal violence, with mass casualties,” she said

“The fighting, which comes as Sudan grapples with the fallout from a coup six months ago led by army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, has seen hospitals attacked, a police station destroyed and a market burnt to the ground,” the UN reported.

An official death toll from the governor of West Darfur state, Khamees Abkar, showed that as at Wednesday, at least 213 people have been killed in three days of violence, with the clashes centred on Krink, a locality of about 500,000 people roughly 1,100 kilometres west of Sudan’s capital Khartoum.

Abkar called the destruction and death a “massive crime”, noting that 201 people were killed and 103 wounded on Sunday alone, in a video published late on Tuesday.

It is the latest in several rounds of recent intercommunal clashes, pitting the Massalit, an ethnic group of largely settled farmers, against semi-nomadic Arab pastoralist groups, heavy fighting initially erupted on Friday when at least eight people were killed in the Krink region, with gunmen attacking Massalit villages in retaliation for the killing of two comrades, the General Co-ordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, an independent aid group, said.

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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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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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