Three Malian soldiers died in a militants’ attack on a military unit in the central part of the country, the army said in a statement on Thursday.
The army added that five others were injured in the attack.
The army is said to have captured two military vehicles left at the site of the attack.
The situation in Mali was significantly destabilised over a coup that overthrew elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Aug. 18.
The heads of state of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday gave the military junta in the country until Sept. 15 to name a transitional president and a prime minister.
ECOWAS maintained sanctions it had placed on Mali. The bloc had closed its borders with landlocked Mali and halted financial flows amid concerns from some West African leaders the military coup could undermine their power and democratic gains in the region.
A group of army colonels has ruled Mali since ousting President Keita on Aug. 18. No consensus has yet been reached on the make-up and duration of a transitional government ahead of promised elections.
ECOWAS is calling for a swift return to civilian rule and a vote within a year, a timeline the junta, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has not committed to.
ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said both the president and prime minister must be appointed by Sept. 15 at the latest.
Israel Adesanya signs historic Puma deal
UFC middleweight champion Israel ‘The Last Stylebender” has become the latest global sports star to be signed on by sportswear manufacturing giants Puma.
The company announced on Thursday 18 September that the undefeated Nigerian star has signed a multiyear deal with that will see him become the face of Puma’s Oceania division. He will also be a major part of their global marketing plans. Puma made the announcement with a special video showing the Nigerian-born New Zealand mixed martial arts fighter standing ontop of Auckland’s Sky Tower.
The deal is an apparel and shoe sponsorship and he becomes the first MMA fighter to be sponsored by the company.
However, it must be noted that the UFC has an existing uniform sponsorship deal with Reebok and and has locked in an agreement with Venum starting in April 2021, which means that Adesanya can’t wear Puma gear in the cage for his fights. However, he can promote Puma through his various media appearances outside the UFC.
“We’re ecstatic to be welcoming one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed athletes to the Puma family,” Pancho Gutstein, general manager of Puma Oceania, said in a statement. “Not only is Israel a fearless and incredibly talented athlete, but his passion for dancing, fashion, anime, and his memorable personality makes him a standout individual to represent the brand.”
Speaking about the partnership, Adesanya said he was “hyped and honoured” to partner up with the “Beast in the game”.
“I only work with companies that align with my values and goals and Puma is an awesome fit,” he said.
“I express myself when I fight, when I dance and through my style and I’ve always loved rocking PUMA. I never conform to society’s expectations of who I should be – individualism is key. I love that PUMA is all about individuality, daring to stand out, fearlessness and pushing the limits. Exactly my kind of brand and I’m hyped to see the partnership unfold.”
He joins a stable featuring some of the biggest stars in the world such as footballers Neymar, Sergio Aguero, Romelu Lukaku, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, NBA star DaMarcus Cousins, 100m world record holder Usain Bolt as well as recording artistes Rihanna and Jay Z.
The announcement comes ahead of Adesanya’s highly anticipated fight against the undefeated Paulo Costa of Brazil in the main event at UFC 253 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (Fight Island) on Sunday 27 September.
The bout is tipped as a potential “Fight of the Year” and the two fighters have been engaging in a flurry of exchanges on Twitter for weeks with Israel Adesanya vowing to come out on top.
in a recent interview, he stated that Costa has not fought someone of his calibre and reminded the fans that he has defeated opponents ranked considerably higher as compared to the Brazilian.
“It’s a cliche to say before every fight that he’s never faced anyone like me. He’s only beat two guys that are ranked. I beat like four or five guys that are ranked. Six, maybe. I lost count,” Israel Adesanya added.
Nigerian heavyweight Ajagba hungry for Rice
Nigeria’s heavyweight boxing prospect Efe “The One and Only” Ajagba will hope to keep his winning streak intact when he faces veteran Jonnie Rice in a 10-round clash as the co-feature to the Jose Pedraza-Javier Molina junior welterweight main event at the MGM Grand Las Vegas on Saturday 19 September. The 6ft 6in knockout artist has a fearsome record of 13 wins from 13 fights with 11 knockouts.
The fight will be his first since March, a 9th round knockout of Razvan Cojanu in Brooklyn. It will also be his first under a new management, promotion and training team.
The Rio 2016 Olympian who is based in Stafford in Texas, USA, signed a promotional deal with Top Rank this summer, coming shortly after teaming up with highly influential boxing manager James Prince. Ajagba also changed from previous head trainer Ronnie Shields to new coach Kay Koroma.
“I didn’t feel I was at a championship level, which is why I changed my trainer,” Ajagba said.
Koroma is urging Ajagba to box and to no longer be hung up on his power.
In that regard, he compared him to long-reigning former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“When Klitschko finally learned how to use his power behind his boxing, that’s when he really took off and things got so much better for him,” Koroma said.
“Muhammad Ali was great with his power, but he used it wisely. He knew how to box and that set up his power. He just didn’t come out using power right away. Efe’s learning to hide it behind his boxing. That’s when he’s really going to show power. The basic power is there, but when he uses it with his boxing is when you’ll see a difference.”
The 26-year-old, who is known as “The One and Only”, joins a loaded Top Rank heavyweight stable as part of a trio of 2016 Olympians that includes France’s 2016 Olympic Gold medalist Tony Yoka, Italy’s Guido Vianello, along with American prospect Jared ‘Big Baby’ Anderson and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury of Manchester, England.
“I’m excited to be back again doing what I love,” Ajagba said. “The only disappointment is that my (first) fight will not have fans in attendance. I really feed off of the fans, they motivate me and give me energy in the ring.”
“But of course, this is what it takes to fight (these days), so I will be ready. And the fans not being in attendance, means that they will be watching at home. They will be pleased with what they see this weekend.”
His opponent Rice (13-5-1, 9KOs) suffered a 10th round stoppage at the hands of Australia’s Demsey McKean (18-0, 12KOs) in his last fight, on the same day as Ajagba’s previous contest though on the other side of the world in Queensland, Australia. Prior to the loss, Rice had won three straight, all taking place in Tijuana. Saturday’s bout will mark his first in the United States since September 2018.
Koroma described Rice as a mover, which makes him happy because he’ll get to see how Ajagba acts under duress when an opponent isn’t standing frozen in front of him.
“We want to break him down and use the ring and cut the ring off,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see if he reverts to the old Efe or if he’ll stay with the program and stick to what we have been working on.”
Ajagba insists he’s going to stick with the program no matter how things go because he likes what he sees from Koroma’s plan, and he believes it’s the best for him.
His goal, he said, is simple, and Koroma is there to help him achieve it.
“I want to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” he said. “I know I can achieve [that goal], but I have to do the right things.”
Ethiopian Group ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Violence In Country’s West
The Human Rights Commission in Ethiopia has expressed worries over violence in the western part of the country.
The group said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned” about two recent waves of ethnic violence in Benishangul Gumuz regional state in the west of the country.
It’s called on the government to set up an independent investigation.
The group, in a statement on Twitter on Thursday, said: “The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned by security events unfolding in Benishangul-Gumuz Region.
“The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has received disturbing reports from Benishangul-Gumuz’s Metekel Zone, Bulen Woreda, Apar Kebele, and Wonbera Woreda, Melkan Kebele. The regional govt has confirmed that at least two instances of violence occurred on 6 Sept 2020 and between 7 – 13 Sept 2020.
“An official source on the ground has informed us that there have been at least two rounds of killings of civilians, and hundreds of civilians have also been displaced.
“Ethiopian Human Rights Commission categorically condemns killings, & displacement of civilians, & urges regional authorities to carry out impartial, prompt, effective investigations into circumstances that led to killings.”
An official in charge of security in the region denied local media reports that more than 80 people had died in the attacks, but did not give casualty figures.
He blamed opposition parties for the violence.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet that trouble in different parts of the country was being “perpetrated by groups aimed at overturning the reforms journey”.
The UN says there are now more than 1.2 million internally displaced people who have fled their homes as a result of conflict in Ethiopia.
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