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24 Hours Across Africa

Libya: United Nations Begs for truce to evacuate wounded

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The UN has urged rival forces fighting near the Libyan capital to halt fighting for two hours so casualties and civilians can be evacuated.

On Sunday rebel forces under Gen Khalifa Haftar said they had carried out an air strike in southern Tripoli.

Gen Haftar’s troops have advanced from the east with the aim of taking the capital, Tripoli.

The UN-backed prime minister has accused him of attempting a coup and says rebels will be met with force.

The UN said hostilities should cease at 16:00 local time (14:00 GMT) to allow access for the emergency services.

International powers have also begun evacuating personnel from Libya amid the worsening security situation

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

What’s the situation on the ground?

Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces have been carrying out a multi-pronged attack from the south and west of the city since Thursday.

On Sunday the LNA said it had carried out its first air strike, a day after the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) hit them with air strikes on Saturday.

Fighting has continued around the disused international airport south of the capital that Gen Haftar earlier said his forces had seized.

Forces loyal to the GNA have slowed the advance and on Sunday a GNA spokesman told Al-Jazeera TV that the GNA now intended to “cleanse” the whole of the country.

What evacuations have already taken place?

US Africa Command, responsible for US military operations and liaison in Africa, said that due to the “increased unrest” it had relocated a contingent of US forces temporarily, but gave no further details on numbers.

There were reports of a fast amphibious craft being used in the operation.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said its full contingent of 15 Central Reserve Police Force peacekeepers had been evacuated from Tripoli because the “situation in Libya has suddenly worsened”.

A market in Tripoli.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA market in Tripoli. Residents are said to be stocking up on supplies

The Italian multinational oil and gas company, Eni, decided to evacuate all its Italian personnel from the country.

The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff.

Residents of Tripoli have reportedly begun stocking up on food and fuel. But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says many of those near the fighting are remaining in their homes for now, for fear of looting should they leave.

Some fear a long operation, which Gen Haftar mounted to take the eastern city of Benghazi from Islamist fighters.

Who are the opposing forces?

Libya has been wracked by unrest since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi. Dozens of militias operate in the country.

Gen HaftarImage copyrightAFP
Image captionGen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

Recently they have been allying either with the UN-backed GNA, based in Tripoli, or the LNA of Gen Haftar, a tough anti-Islamist who has the support of Egypt and the UAE and is strong in eastern Libya.

Gen Haftar helped Col Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

The unity government was created at talks in 2015 but has struggled to assert national control.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj delivered a TV address on Saturday, saying he would defend the capital.

Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be “stabbed in the back”.

24 Hours Across Africa

Hong kong train accident leaves eight injured.

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A rare train derailment disrupted services in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the rail operator said, threatening commuter chaos during rush hour.

The disruption to a usually seamless network used by nearly 6 million people every weekday happened after a train derailed while leaving a station in the Kowloon area, rail operator MTR Corp said.

The government’s information department said eight people were injured and five had been taken to hospital.

Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, chairman of MTR Corp, told reporters that a derailment had not happened in many years and the cause was not immediately clear.

“We will work together with the government to find out the truth as soon as possible so as to continue to provide safe services,” he said. “We apologize that our passengers were injured in the accident.”

Hong Kong’s rail system has been a target of vandalism during recent pro-democracy protests, with activists angry that MTR has closed stations to stop protesters gathering.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers trying to get off the derailed train. Public broadcaster RTHK said the train had suddenly swayed and a door had flown off before the train stopped.

Nearby stations were overcrowded, and intervals between trains were extended to 12 minutes from two.

MTR’s shares fell 1.1% in line with the broader Hang Seng Index, which was down 1%.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Brazil to host Nigeria and Senegal

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Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista have confirmed frendlies with Nigeria and Senegal.

It will be first ever meeting between Brazil and Senegal, who lost the Africa Cup of Nations final to Algeria and are the continent’s top-ranked African side.

Nigeria, who won Bronze in Egypt, will be meeting Brazil for the second time at senior level following a 3-0 defeat in a friendly in June 2003 in Abuja.

“We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level opponents,” Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista said on the website.

“It was a wish of the technical commission. So we went after these opponents.”

The friendlies are in line with Brazil’s wishes to play top 50 ranked teams whenever possible.

Brazil’s only other Africa opponent under coach Tite was a 1-0 win over Cameroon in November last year, in a match played in England.

It will be Brazil’s second game in Singapore following a Neymar-inspired victory over Japan in October 2014.

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