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Former UN chief Kofi Annan “deeply concerned” about alleged human rights abuses in Myanmar

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Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has urged Myanmar’s army to respect civilians’ rights as concerns rise about treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Mr Annan was meeting top officials during a three-day trip to Myanmar, seeking reconciliation among ethnic groups in the fractious western province Rakhine state.

The army has been conducting aggressive sweeps through Rakhine state since October, when unidentified armed men killed nine policemen manning posts along the border with Bangladesh.

Human rights groups accuse the army of abuses including rape, the killing of hundreds of civilians and the burning of villages.

The army denies the allegations.

But Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak led a weekend rally against what he called “genocide” of Rohingya and urged Asian neighbours and the world to step up pressure to stop the violence.

Kofi Annan heads a commission appointed in August by Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to recommend measures to ease tensions between the Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Inter-communal violence in 2012 killed hundreds and caused about 140,000 people, predominantly Rohingya, to take shelter in camps for the internally displaced.

There are still 100,000 living in squalid conditions in the camps.

Mr Annan said in a statement that his group was “deeply concerned by the reports of alleged human rights abuses”.

He met President Htin Kyaw and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as army commander Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

“In my mind it’s very clear that the military has two important roles. Yes, it has the role to protect the state and the interest of the state, but also has a responsibility which is extremely important security forces have to be careful in protecting civilian rights and rights of the civilian population.”

Referring to reports that aid groups were being barred from delivering assistance to the Rohingya population, Mr Annan said his commission “also stressed that security operations must not impede humanitarian access to the population”.

Mr Annan said they were assured that access would be allowed for humanitarian assistance.

He also said he hoped that the media, barred from the area of the conflict in northern Myanmar, would soon be allowed access to help dispel rumours about the situation.

He declined to speak publicly about the credibility of reports of army abuses.

“We went to the region but we didn’t walk into a live conflict,” he said.

“We did see houses which have been burned. You asked if we saw rape, that is not possible.

“We didn’t go there to investigate. That has to be investigated by those with expertise and knowledge. That wasn’t our role and so we cannot talk about that.”

Many Rohingya, a minority of about 1 million among Myanmar’s 52 million people, have lived in Myanmar for generations, but most people in the country view them as foreign intruders from neighbouring Bangladesh.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Israel kills Gaza gunman, militants fire rockets

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An Israeli air-strike killed a Palestinian gunman on Wednesday and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel as a spike in violence edged into a second day.

As dawn broke, air raid sirens sent Israelis rushing to shelters in towns near the Gaza border and deeper in the country.

The Israeli military said its forces targeted a Gaza crew preparing to launch rockets over the border. At least one man was killed. The Islamic Jihad militant faction identified him as a member of the group.

The worst fighting in months began on Tuesday, after Israel killed in Gaza a top commander of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, accusing him of masterminding recent attacks against Israel and planning more in the near future.

source Reuters

In response, Islamic Jihad gunmen fired about 200 rockets into Israel throughout the day. Further Israeli air strikes on the group’s targets in Gaza killed eight Palestinians, seven of them militants, according to Palestinian sources.

However, it appeared that Hamas, the main militant group that rules Gaza, was staying out of the fighting for now. A diplomatic source told Reuters the U.N. Middle East envoy was on his way to Cairo to begin mediation to end the violence.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Salah withdraws from Egypt Squad

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Egypt Football Federation has leave out Mohammed Salah on the upcoming AFCON qualifiers match with Kenya due to injury worries.

Egypt were grouped with kenya, Togo, Comoros in Group G, football fans has tipped Egypt to top the group due to their attacking threat.

The Egyptian talisman has now been ruled out of the upcoming AFCON qualifiers after due assessment by Egypt’s medical team.

The physios believe the Liverpool star’s injury, which was sustained from a challenge by Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury earlier last month, has been aggravated during the clash against Manchester City and needed time to heal.

The Egyptian frontman will miss the two matches scheduled this week.

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