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Congo DR: At least 5 dead, scores injured in anti-MONUSCO demonstration

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Five people have been reportedly killed while more than 50 were wounded on Tuesday following protests in the Goma region of eastetn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) against the United Nations peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, stationed in the province.

According to a government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, the demonstration which began on Monday, and spilled into Tuesday as the protesters demanded that the mission leave the region for failing to protect civilians from violent attacks by different militia groups.

Muyaya, in a statement on Tuesday, said the protests became violent when the protesters blocked roads with rocks and pebbles, ransacked offices, carted off materials and set fire to a gate of the mission’s compound.

Muyaya who announced the deaths of the protesters, said “further information would be provided later in the day on the human and logistical toll of the protests.”

Human rights activists in the troubled country said the protest was called by a faction of the youth wing of President Felix Tshisekedi’s UDPS ruling party, which said in a statement it was demanding the immediate withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers over what it described as their ineffectiveness.

“Tensions are high in the eastern region where resurgent clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 rebel group have displaced thousands.

“Attacks by the ADF armed group also continue despite a year-long state of emergency and joint operations against it by the Congolese and Ugandan armies,” the global Human Rights Watch said in a report.

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US air strikes targets al-Shabaab Islamists in Somalia

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Several US air strikes have taken out several al-Shabaab commanders and their strongholds in Somalia, according to state media reports on Wednesday.

A statement by Somalia state own media said US military carried out air strikes against the al-Shabaab fighters in the central Hiran region on Tuesday, killing several fighters and their commanders.

The report said the air strikes followed a request from the Somali government following renewed attacks by the rebel group in different parts of the country.

A statement by the US-Africa Command based in the Horn of Africa country said airstrikes in June and July killed seven jihadist fighters flatter an increased in attacks on government targets in recent months by the insurgents.

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Sierra Leone: Parliament passes law to protect locals from land grabs

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The parliament in Sierra Leone has passed two laws that is widely believed will boost the rights of rural landowners and women.

The Customary Land Rights Act and the Land Commission Act, both enacted on Monday, will protect against land grabs by big mining and agribusiness firms.

The new laws empower local landowners to negotiate the value of their land with investors and prevent it being leased out without their express consent.

An official of international legal advocacy group, Namati, Eleanor Thompson, said “to our knowledge there is not a legal regime anywhere, in either hemisphere that grants such robust rights to communities facing harm.”

The move is also praised by Gerben Haringsma who is the director of SOCFIN, the biggest agribusiness company in Sierra Leone, called it a “dream of NGOs”.

“Certainly, it will block any investment… It makes things very expensive and we are all prone to enormous blackmail by various communities.” Haringsma remarked.

Sierra Leone has a history of sometimes deadly conflict between local communities and foreign companies that have cleared huge tracts of land for palm oil and sugarcane plantations in recent years.

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