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Kenyan President Kenyatta calls for East African regional forces to counter DR Congo rebel threat

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Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has called on the East African regional bloc to deploy an East African force to the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to restore security following renewed fighting between government forces and the M23 rebels which has seen thousands killed and displaced since the resumption of hostilities.

Kenyatta who made the appeal in a statement on Thursday, also called for an “immediate cessation of all hostilities for all armed groups, both foreign and local, to lay down arms immediately and unconditionally” amid heavy fighting in recent weeks.

According to the statement, the East African Regional Force is to be deployed immediately to the regions of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu to enforce peace in co-ordination with the United Nations Peacekeeping forces, Monusco.

The decision to establish the regional force was made in April when Kenyatta who is the current East African Community (EAC) chairman, hosted regional presidents over the DR Congo crisis that has also threatened neighbouring countries.

The EAC is made up of seven countries in the region, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and DR Congo.

The conflict in the DRC has seen more than 100 local and foreign militia groups operating and trying to take control of the mineral-rich eastern parts of the country with the M23 rebels more prominent in the past two decades.

Since March, fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels has displaced more than 80,000 people with the DR Congo accusing neighbours Rwanda of supporting the group made up of mostly ethnic Congolese Tutsi, many of whom are also found in Rwanda.

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Over 150 endangered vultures poisoned to death in South Africa, Botswana

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Not less than 150 endangered vultures in South Africa and Botswana have been poisoned to death, according to conservationists who warned that the mass killings could push the birds closer to extinction faster.

A conservation group, Vulpro which raised the alarm on Friday, said the vultures were poisoned in separate incidents.

The group said more than 50 white-backed vultures were found dead in Botswana’s northern Chobe district on Friday, while about 100 others were discovered in South Africa’s Kruger National Park the same day.

“The repercussions of these poisonings are huge. It’s breeding season so their chicks will not survive and breeding pairs have been lost for good,” the organisation wrote in a tweet.

“Vulture populations cannot withstand these losses and the threat of extinction creeps ever closer,” it wrote in another tweet.

Vulpro’s founder, Kerri Wolter, who expressed worries over the attacks, said in both cases, the birds died after feeding from the carcass of a buffalo, which appeared to have been laced with poison.

Park officials in South Africa said they were investigating the incident, adding some of the carcasses appeared to have been harvested for their body parts.

According to a wildlife group in South Africa, vulture poisoning is very common in the southern African region as the heads and other vital parts are used in preparing traditional medicine.

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Authorities capture over 250 fleeing prisoners days after Congo DR, Beni jailbreak

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Report from the Democratic Republic of Congo says over 250 inmates of the over 800 who escaped from a prison in the jailbreak on Wednesday have been captured.

The prison authority on Thursday presented 166 of the inmates in addition to the 86 other fugitives who had earlier been captured with the help of the public.

Man hunt is still on for remaining inmates.

Military sources confirmed on Wednesday that the prison break happened in eastern region the country.

Spokesman of the army in Beni, Captain Antony Mualushayi, said “a group of unidentified Mayi-Mayi attacked the central prison of Kakwangura in the town of Butembo. Two policemen on guard duty were killed.”

According to the United Nations, more than 100 armed groups and local militias operate in eastern DRC.

IS affiliated group, ADF has admitted it was behind the attack as suggested earlier by the army.

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