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Greece wildfires: Death toll rises to 79 amid search for survivors

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TOPSHOT - A house is threatened by a huge blaze during a wildfire in Kineta, near Athens, on July 23, 2018. - More than 300 firefighters, five aircraft and two helicopters have been mobilised to tackle the "extremely difficult" situation due to strong gusts of wind, Athens fire chief Achille Tzouvaras said. (Photo by VALERIE GACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERIE GACHE/AFP/Getty Images)




At least 79 people died in huge wildfires around Athens, Greek authorities said Wednesday, as rescuers scoured scorched homes and burned-out cars for survivors of one of the deadliest fire outbreaks in Europe’s modern history.

Scores of locals and holidaymakers fled to the sea to try to escape the flames as they tore through towns near Athens stoked by 100-kilometre-per-hour wind gusts, devouring woodland and hundreds of buildings.

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Greek media have described the disaster as a “national tragedy”, while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning.

The government has not yet said how many people are still missing from the fires, which broke out on Monday, as firefighters continue to battle blazes in some areas.

KINETA (GREECE), July 23, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on July 23, 2018 shows damaged beach facilities at Kineta near Athens, Greece. Western and Eastern Attica were declared in state of emergency by local authorities on Monday as three major wildfires were raging in suburbs and seaside resorts near the Greek capital, forcing hundreds of residents to abandon their homes and seek refuge by the sea, Greek national news agency AMNA reported. (Xinhua/Lefteris Partsalis/IANS)

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Nigeria: Ohaneze charges youths against violence in 2019 Election build-ups

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The Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, an apex Igbo socio-cultural group, has called on youths to shun violence and hooliganism throughout the electioneering period in the country.



The President of Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo Enugu State Chapter, Chief Alex Ogbonna, gave the advice while receiving the Governorship Candidate of United Progressive Party (UPP), Mr Ekele Uzodinma, in Ohaneze National Secretariat, Enugu on Tuesday. 

Ogbonna noted that the body wanted youths to embrace tolerance and peace in this period, adding that political parties must stick to issue-based campaigns and “not campaign of character assassination and hatred.’’ 

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“We are appealing to all candidates, especially their youthful followers, to conduct themselves with dignity and shun violence, thuggery and hooliganism in all forms. 

“We are working towards a peaceful and development-oriented electioneering in the entire South-East,’’ he said. 

According to him, for now, Ohaneze only know that two candidates are contesting the governorship seat in Enugu State; and they are Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr Ekele Uzodinma of UPP. 

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“It is only these two candidates that have deemed it fit to notify us of their ambitions and seek our prayers as an apex body and highest Igbo collective authority, with the `offor Ndi-Igbo’ (staff of prayer and authority of all Igbo-land),’’ he said. 

Ogbonna noted that he was impressed with Uzodinma’s articulated programmes to revamp and reposition Enugu State, adding; “I can see you have good layout of programmes, which can be followed practically.’’ 

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US: Two Somalia airstrikes leaves 37 Militants dead

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The US military killed 37 militants in two separate airstrikes in the vicinity of Debatscile, Somalia, on Monday, according to a statement from US Africa Command, which oversees military operations on the continent.



The strike targeted the militants associated with al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s largest affiliate.
A US defense official told CNN that the strikes were carried out by unmanned drone aircraft and that the target of the first strike was an al-Shabaab camp.
Africa Command said the “precision strike was a planned and deliberate action” that killed 27 militants in the first strike and a subsequent strike the US says they killed an additional 10 militants.
“These precision airstrikes were conducted in support of the Federal Government of Somalia as it continues to degrade al-Shabaab. Airstrikes reduce al-Shabaab’s ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of maneuver within the region,” the statement said.

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The US military currently assesses that the airstrikes did not injure or kill any civilians.
While the US has now conducted 31 airstrikes against al-Shabaab in 2018, the strikes usually target small groups of militants.
The last major strike against al-Shabaab took place last month and killed some 60 al Qaeda-affiliated fighters.
In March of 2017, President Donald Trump authorized the US military to carry out precision strikes targeting al-Shabaab in an effort to bolster the federal government of Somalia.
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Prior to that, the US military was only authorized to carry out airstrikes in self-defense of advisers on the ground.

The US has some 500 troops in Somalia, primarily in advisory roles.
While the Department of Defense recently announced plans to reduce the number of US troops in Africa, the Pentagon has said that US forces in Somalia will be unaffected by the drawdown.
A senior US defense official told CNN last week that the US was concerned about international terror threats emanating from East Africa which is one of the reasons US counterterrorism forces in Somalia were shielded from the cuts.
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