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DR Congo Catholics protest against M23 rebels, accuse Western countries of failing to hold Rwanda to account

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Thousands of Catholics on Sunday, took to the streets in several cities across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to protest violence in eastern regions perpetrated by the M23 rebels in the eastern parts of the country.

The protesters which included priests, church leaders and their congregations, also accused the international community of hypocrisy over failure to hold Rwanda a accountable over their alleged role in the fighting.

Local media reports on Monday that the protest began after Sunday services with churchgoers in the capital Kinshasa and other major cities heeding a call from the Conference of Catholic Bishops to demonstrate against the the M23 rebel group.

The mass protests, the media said, were the most significant since an escalation in fighting in recent weeks between federal forces and the rebels which has killed over 10,000 people and displaced an estimated 390,000 people.

Demonstrators in Kinshasa sang and carried banners reading “No to Balkanisation, no to the hypocrisy of the international community. The DRC is not for sale,” while one of the organisers of the protests, Blaise Emmanuel, who is the vicar at St Elizabeth’s Parish in the capital, said
“We say no to war, no to a divided Congo,” while leading a procession in Montgafula, one of the poorest municipalities in Kinshasa.

Another priest, Father Theophile Landu, who also spoke with journalists, said:

“It is the small country, Rwanda, that is fighting us. And behind it are the United States and the European Union. We tell them that they must stop the hypocrisy.”

For years, Congolese have accused the West of failing to hold Rwanda to account for its alleged role in stoking insecurity in the east, and instead have been giving aid to Kigali.

One media report cited an instance where the European Parliament in late November, called on Rwanda not to support the M23 rebels.

“But last week, the same European Commission gave €20 million ($21m) to support Rwandan troops helping fight rebels in Mozambique,” it said.

Metro

Islamist jihadists kill nine in attack on Niger refugee camp

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Nine people have been confirmed killed by Islamist jihadists who attacked a refugee camp in western Niger Republic on Saturday night, local officials said.

The camp, according to the officials, housed refugees from neighbouring Mali who were displaced by the turmoil in the country.

“The toll from the attack is nine dead, one wounded and six missing,” an elected county official said.

“The attack was carried out by heavily armed terrorists who arrived on motorcycles and opened fire on the refugees before fleeing back to Mali,” he said.

A security personnel who also confirmed the attack, said it happened in the Tahoua region which lies in a zone bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, two countries that have been heavily hit by jihadist insurgency and has come under repeated attack since 2017 by armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Jihadists attacks in the region since 2021 have led to the killing of hundreds of civilians and soldiers alike.

According to the United Nations, there are over 61,000 Malian refugees sheltering in Tahoua and nearby Tillaberi.

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Metro

Three killed in attacks on ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church

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An attack on an Ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturday has claimed the lives of three people, while an unspecified number were reported injured, according to a a religious media outlet.

The violence which erupted in southern Ethiopia, came on the backdrop of tensions in the Orthodox Tewahedo Church after some rebel bishops broke away from the body of the church and created their own synod in Oromia, the country’s most populous region.

The breakaway bishops have accused the church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, saying congregations in Oromia are not served in their native language, claims rejected by the patriarchate.

Church-affiliated Tewahedo Media Center (TMC), in a report on Sunday, said two Orthodox Christian youths were killed, and another four people injured, when Oromia special forces attacked the church in Shashamene, which lies about 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Addis Ababa.

The outfit later said there had been sniper fire on the church from nearby high-rise buildings that had killed a woman and injured others.

A statement issued by the Archbishop of Addis Ababa Diocese of the church. Abune Henok, described the incidents in the Oromia city of Shashamene as “shameful and heart-wrenching,” and urged the clergy and the faithful to wear black in protest, while calling for peaceful demonstrations at churches at home and abroad on February 12.

The World Council of Churches also issued a statement on Friday voicing its “deep concern” about the developments in the Ethiopian institution.

“We call upon all political leaders in Ethiopia to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in its efforts to achieve unity and peace among its members,” WCC general secretary, Jerry Pillay said in the statement.

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