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Venezuela lawmakers condemn massacre in rare show of unity

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Venezuelan lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday to issue a declaration condemning the massacre of 12 civilians by soldiers, a rare display of unity in a country torn by a political crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro’s allies and the opposition majority came together to “condemn the forced disappearance and killing of a number of citizens… by members of the military,” they said.

The resolution refers to a bloody security operation in October that left 12 farmers missing.

Their bodies were later found rotting in mass graves in the mountains outside the town of Barlovento, in the central state of Miranda.

Eleven soldiers were arrested for the killings.

Tuesday’s vote was just the second time Maduro’s coalition and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) have unanimously adopted a piece of legislation since the latter won control of the National Assembly last year.

The other was an endorsement of Pope Francis’s call for dialogue on the country’s raging crisis.

Oil giant Venezuela has veered toward economic collapse as crude prices have plunged since 2014, fueling an opposition drive to oust Maduro.

The leftist leader, who accuses his opponents of conspiring with the United States to oust him, has vowed to hold onto power at least until his term ends in 2019.

Shortages of food, medicine and basic goods in Venezuela have led to riots, looting and a rise in violent crime.

Seeking to bolster security, the military launched a crime crackdown in July 2015 called People’s Liberation Operations, or OPLs.

Activists have voiced concern about rights abuses committed under the program, including the Barlovento massacre.

The military has said it “categorically rejects” the actions of the 11 soldiers arrested over the killings.

24 Hours Across Africa

Russian: President Putin eases access to citizenship for east Ukraine residents.

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Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.

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Machester Derby – Epl’s Most important Match of the Season

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The Manchester derby today is arguably the most important match of the season as it will determine the comfort of Liverpool on the league table or the come back of Manchester City on top, while it also may determine the place of United in the European leagues next season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have won five of their last seven Premier League fixtures at Old Trafford (D1, L1), having triumphed in only one of the first 14 visits. A seventh away win for City would be a new Premier League record for overall wins at Old Trafford by a visiting club

Manchester United have Luke Shaw available after suspension but Phil Jones limped off during the defeat at Everton and is not expected to be fit.

Ander Herrera, who has been out for four weeks with a thigh injury, was not part of the squad which arrived at the team hotel on Tuesday.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will miss out after sustaining a hamstring problem last weekend.

Claudio Bravo is City’s only other injury absentee

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