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World’s most wanted human trafficker arrested in Sudan after massive manhunt

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An Eritrean national, Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, described as ‘’the world’s most wanted″ human trafficker, has been arrested in Sudan following an international manhunt led by the Interpol, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sudanese government, Interpol said on Thursday.

The suspect is accused of leading a notorious criminal syndicate that abducts, extorts and murders African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, the international police agency said in the statement.

“The suspect was arrested on Sunday, January 1, in a major international police operation led by the United Arab Emirates, based on information shared via Interpol,″ UAE’s Ministry of Interior also said in a statement.

“Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam was the subject of two Interpol red notices by Ethiopia and the Netherlands. He was arrested by Sudanese police in coordination with UAE authorities,” a UAE Interior Ministry spokesman, Saeed Abdullah al-Suwaidi, told reporters.

“The Eritrean fugitive has been on Interpol’s radar since 2019, and earned a reputation for particularly cruel and violent treatment of migrants mostly from from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, through Libya and into Europe,” al-Suwaidi said.

“Habtemariam’s arrest followed a joint UAE and Interpol investigation, beginning last year, that tracked illicit financial transactions made by his brother. He will now face trial in the UAE for money laundering, and authorities will review the possibility of his extradition after the case is closed in the UAE,” Suwaidi added.

In 2020, Habtemariam was arrested in Ethiopia but escaped custody after one year, and was later sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

He reportedly operated human trafficking warehouses in the Libyan town of Bani Walid and was known for extorting and torturing victims.

He had also worked with another infamous human smuggler, Tewelde Goitom, who was notorious for the number of captive women he allegedly raped and murdered.

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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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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