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US Airstrike in Somalia Kills 5 Top Al-Shabaab Leaders

“This strike targeted known al-Shabaab leaders who facilitated [operations of] finance, weapons, fighters, and explosives.

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A spokesperson for The United States military on Friday said in a statement, that its forces working with the Somali National Army killed five top al-Shabaab leaders in a joint airstrike in the vicinity of the Saaxa Weyne region.

In the statement, the US military said one of the al-Shabaab leaders who was killed in the airstrike was involved in an attack on the US and Somalian military forces. It said that initial assessments indicate that the strike on Jan. 7 eliminated five top al-Shabaab leaders, including wanted al-Shabaab leaders.

Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson of the US Air Force, commander of Joint Task Force-Quartz, said: “This strike targeted known al-Shabaab leaders who facilitated [operations of] finance, weapons, fighters, and explosives. One is suspected of being involved in a previous attack against the US and Somali forces.”

However, while speaking to Somali state television, the country’s army chief Gen. Odowa Yusuf Rage said that eight top al-Shabaab leaders were killed in the airstrike, including Mukhtar Nurow who is a known area militant boss.

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militant group has not yet made any comment on the US led joint airstrike.

Al-Shabaab began in late December 2006 as a splinter group of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), after the Islamic Courts Union peacefully withdrew from Mogadishu and the ICU leaders, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, resigned and disbanded the Islamic Courts Union.

The earliest recorded attack which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for was a suicide car bomb in Mogadishu on March 26, 2007, which Adam Salam Adam conducted against Ethiopian soldiers who were occupying Mogadishu. The attack killed 73 people.

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East Africa News

Serious Sexual Violence, Rape Reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray – UN Envoy

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The United Nations (UN) has revealed that serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Pramila Pattern, a Mauritian-British barrister and UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the reports included a high number of alleged rapes in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital.

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seized control of Mekelle from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Ms Patten said in a statement.

“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

“While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.

“In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

She called on those parties involved in the hostilities “to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region’s ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

He declared victory in Tigray after a month’s conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

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COVID-19: Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to 2 European Hubs

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Kenya Airways said on Friday it has suspended flights to two major European hubs following the introduction of new regulations as a result of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The Airline said the suspension of the flights is temporary.

The service suspension affects flights to France – Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands – Schiphol Airport through the month of February 2021.

“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said in a statement.

The airline expects to resume regular services to France on 3 March, 2021, and to the Netherlands on 7 March, 2021.

The airline said the resumption of the flights will be communicated. “We will keep customers updated in case of any changes to these resumption plans,” the airline added.

KQ said customers who had booked their flights to these two destinations, would be provided with alternative flight options.

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15-Day COVID-19 Lockdown: Rwanda Distributes Food to Vulnerable Families

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Following its decision to lockdown Kigali, its capital, the Rwanda authorities have begun the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives to vulnerable families in affected by the restriction.

News Central reports that the Rwandan government had, on Monday, imposed a 15-day lockdown on Kigali to curb the spread coronavirus after a surge in cases in the capital.

All movements outside homes require an approved permit from the police, except for essential service providers.

However, to help some 3,000 families – identified as the most vulnerable – cope with the lockdown the government is distributing food rations to households.

Local and international reports said that as of Thursday evening households have started receiving sacks of rice, maize flour and beans.

Some 3,000 families have been identified as the most vulnerable. The city has a population of about one million people.

There have been concerns that hundreds of thousands of residents who live hand to mouth would face hunger during the lockdown.

The authorities have assured that food will reach the most vulnerable, as well as poor Covid-19 patients being treated at home.

The rations were being delivered by volunteers who had tested negative before the programme started, city officials said.

A free phone line is available for requests from “those who want and merit the food aid to be delivered at their doorsteps”.

On Thursday Rwanda reported nine Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily fatalities so far, and 310 new cases.

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