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24 Hours Across Africa

Yemi Osibanjos Helicopter Crash-landed at KAABA. THANKFULLY, HE IS SAFE.

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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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24 Hours Across Africa

Heavy bombardment leaves at least 17 dead.

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Source: Reuters

At least 17 people were killed on Wednesday in an explosion in the center of Jisr al Shughour, a rebel-held city in northwestern Syria, a day after heavy Russian air strikes in the vicinity, rescue workers and residents said.Several residential buildings collapsed as a result of the blast in Idlib province, near a road between the coastal city of Latakia and city of Aleppo.

“The casualties are expected to rise. The cause is not known,” said Ahmad Yaziji, head of civil defense in the city, adding at least 27 people, mostly civilians, were injured.

Bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble, another rescuer said.

The province and areas around it in northern Syria, the last remaining rebel bastion, have seen an escalation in attacks by Russian warplanes and the Syrian army even though they are protected by a “de-escalation zone” agreement brokered last year between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The bombardment has sent people fleeing from opposition-held towns in the buffer zone that straddles parts of Idlib to northern Hama and parts of Latakia province.

Turkey, which has supported the rebels and has troops to monitor the truce, has been negotiating with Moscow to halt the Russian strikes with little success.

Russian jets hovered in the sky with missile strikes reported in several villages around Jisr al Shughour, residents said.

Overnight, Russian jets struck western parts of Idlib city and residents said long-range missiles hit several villages surrounding Jisr al Shugour from army positions in Latakia province.

Jisr al Shughour has been a target of heavy bombardment by the Russian air force and the Syrian army in recent weeks. Most of its inhabitants have fled to the safety of areas close to the Turkish border, residents and local officials say.

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