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Many dead as Militants launch attack in Mozambique

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Dozens of people are dead following an attack on the town of Palma in northern Mozambique, according to a spokesperson from the country’s defence department.

Seven were killed trying to escape a siege on a hotel, said Omar Saranga.

Hundreds of others, both locals and foreigners, were reportedly rescued.

The area has been under attack by Islamist militants since Wednesday. Witnesses have described hiding out while waiting to be rescued by boat, on a beach strewn with headless bodies.

Marine traffic websites showed a string of vessels around Palma, and the port of Pemba to the south, as people tried to escape by any means – cargo vessels, passenger ships, tugs and recreational boats.

One contractor told the BBC many who escaped the hotel via convoy hid at the beach overnight on Friday and were evacuated by boat on Saturday morning.

He said more people were delivered to safety after him, and that the boats would be returning on Sunday to rescue more still.

He said civilians living and working in the area appeared to be co-ordinating the rescue effort.

“Local suppliers and companies, these guys were heroes of the entire operation. In the wee hours they managed to co-ordinate and reach out to the evacuees on the beach and got them on to boats and got them into safety.”

“Where the hell was the support from big companies, from countries?” he asked.

South African Adrian Nel was killed trying to escape, his mother Meryl Knox told the BBC.

Her husband, Gregory, managed to make it out of Palma – though she told AFP that he had to carry the body of their dead son until he was rescued. Her other son was also able to escape.

But once they had fled, Ms Knox told the BBC that they had “no army to protect them… it was a matter of, ‘run for your life’.”

“This could have been avoided,” she added. “My son could still be alive today.”

One source close to the rescue operation told AFP news agency that a boat with about 1,400 people on board had arrived in the port town of Pemba, which is about 250km (155 miles) south of Palma, on Sunday afternoon.

Aid agencies said several more small boats packed with displaced people were en route to Pemba and likely to arrive overnight or on Monday morning.

The exact number of casualties in Palma, a town of about 75,000 people in Cabo Delgado province, is unclear. Many are still unaccounted for.

The town and beaches are strewn with bodies “with heads and without”, according to Col Lionel Dyke, whose private security firm, Dyck Advisory Group, is contracted by the Mozambique police in the area.

The armed group is reported to have taken control of Palma, but those claims are hard to verify amid a communications blackout.

When the militant attack was launched on Wednesday, the offensive targeted shops, banks and a military barracks.

Hundreds of people fled the fighting, running into forests, mangroves or nearby villages. Palma is near a major gas project run by the French energy giant Total, and more than 100 workers and civilians took refuge in the town’s Amarula Palma hotel.

Some tried to escape the hotel in a convoy of vehicles on Friday, aiming for a nearby beach. At least 20 people were reportedly flown to safety in helicopters, but others were ambushed outside the hotel.

There are unconfirmed reports of British citizens being caught up in the hotel siege.


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Woman expecting septuplets gives birth to 9 babies

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A Malian woman gave birth to nonuplets in Morocco on Tuesday and all nine babies are “doing well”, her government said, although Moroccan authorities had yet to confirm what would be an extremely rare case. 

Mali’s government flew 25-year-old Halima Cisse, a woman from the north of the poor West African state, to Morocco for better care on March 30. 

She was initially believed to have been carrying septuplets.

Cases of women successfully carrying septuplets to term are rare — and nonuplets even rarer.

Moroccan health ministry spokesman Rachid Koudhari said he had no knowledge of such a multiple birth having taken place in one of the country’s hospitals.

But Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that Cisse had given birth to five girls and four boys by Caesarean section.

“The mother and babies are doing well so far,” Mali’s Health Minister Fanta Siby told AFP, adding that she had been kept informed by the Malian doctor who accompanied Cisse to Morocco.

Doctors had been concerned about Cisse’s health, according to local press reports, as well as her babies’ chances of survival.

Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that ultrasound examinations conducted in both Mali and Morocco had suggested that Cisse was carrying seven babies.

Siby offered her congratulations to “the medical teams of Mali and Morocco, whose professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.

AFP


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Buhari pledges better collaboration with Zambia

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Nigeria and Zambia will deepen collaboration between the two countries, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured. 

The President spoke Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving a Special Envoy of His Excellency, Edgar Chagwa Lungu. 

He said the two countries would explore further areas of collaboration for the good of their peoples, and benefit of the African continent. 

The Special Envoy, Hon Joseph Malanji, who is Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked Nigeria for her “big brother role in ECOWAS and the African continent,” stressing that “equity is when strong ones strengthen the weak ones.”

 The Zambian President called for stronger bilateral relations and greater impetus for the Joint Commission of Cooperation between the two countries. 


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Breaking: Late Deby ’s son takes over, to head Transitional Military Council in Chad

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A transitional military council is established in Chad, headed by Lt.-Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of late president Idriss Deby, the Al Wihda newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The military plans to publish a “transitional charter” soon. Chad declared a two-week national mourning period after the president’s death and imposed a curfew from 18:00 p.m. local time until 05:00 a.m.

In addition, the military decided to close land and air borders “until further notice.”

The AFP reported earlier in the day that Deby, who commanded an army unit during hostilities against the rebels in Chad’s north, died.

A source confirmed to Sputnik that the president was critically injured during the clashes and died later in a hospital.

Mahamat previously served as the second in command of the Armed Forces for the Chadian Intervention in Northern Mali (FATIM).

On Feb. 22, he led his army against rebels in the Adar al-Ifoghas mountains in Northern Mali leading to the Battle of al-Ifoghas.

They eliminated a rebel base said to be of “significant importance”, inflicting heavy losses upon the rebels but also losing twenty-six men in the process, including Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, a commander of special forces.

Mahamat took full command of the FATIM and has since been leading operations against rebels in the North.


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