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Myanmar village burned after fighting, residents blame security forces
17 June 2021, 3:30 AM

Security forces set ablaze a village in central Myanmar after clashing there with opponents of the ruling junta, leaving at least two elderly people burned to death, several village residents said on Wednesday.

MRTV state television said the blaze on Tuesday at Kin Ma, a village of about 800 people in the Magway Region, was caused by “terrorists” and that media who reported otherwise were “deliberately plotting to discredit the military”.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the cause of the blaze. A junta spokesperson did not answer calls requesting comment.

All that remained of Kin Ma on Wednesday was about 30 houses, with some 200 homes reduced to piles of ash and bricks, according to several villagers who gave accounts of the incident by telephone and photographs seen by Reuters.

The villagers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that security forces set the fires after confronting opponents of the junta and that at least two people were killed.

A 32-year-old volunteer assisting people displaced from the village said the two people killed were elderly residents who had been unable to flee their home during the fire. He said some people returned to the village on Wednesday and found the bodies.

Most of the village’s residents remained in hiding in nearby forests, the villagers who spoke with Reuters said.

Facebook removes fake Ethiopia account network ahead of election
17 June 2021, 2:00 AM

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users ahead of next week’s elections, which it linked to individuals associated with the country’s Information Network Security Agency.

Facebook said the network posted mainly in Amharic about news and current events, including about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party.

It said the network posted critical commentary about opposition politicians and groups including the Oromo Liberation Front, Ethiopian Democratic Party, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front among others.

The head of INSA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The agency, which was set up years before Abiy came to power, is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

“INSA is under the ministry of peace and an independent institution, you can address your question there,” Billene Seyoum, the prime minister’s spokeswoman, told Reuters when asked about Facebook’s action.

Facebook said the network of accounts, groups and pages on Facebook and Instagram had violated its rules against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and had accelerated its posting in 2020 and into 2021. It said the network had recently commented on US sanctions on Ethiopia.

The June 21 vote is the first time Abiy will face voters at the ballot box in Africa’s second most populous nation. Just over a fifth of parliamentary constituencies are not voting due to logistical problems, low-level violence or due to the war in the northern region of Tigray.

Facebook said the network’s activity on its platforms was not directly focused on the Tigray region or the ongoing conflict in Tigray.

Facebook said about 1.1 million accounts followed one or more of the network’s pages and about 766 000 accounts joined one or more of the groups.

MTN Nigeria tells customers about potential disruptions for business continuity
17 June 2021, 12:00 AM

MTN Nigeria said on Wednesday it notified some enterprise customers about a potential service disruption to enable them put in place business continuity measures.

The local unit of South Africa’s telcoms firm MTN runs Nigeria’s largest mobile phone network which generates around a third of the company’s revenue.

The action was “a routine notification to a small group of businesses affected by a specific challenge in very few specific locations,” MTN said.

“Maintaining network stability and high levels of customer service remains a key priority for us,” Karl Toriola, MTN Nigeria’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Toriola said MTN aimed to inform customers in a timely manner so that they can put in place business continuity measures. Potential disruptions could be due to network maintenance, faults or other circumstances that may pose a risk, he said.

On Tuesday, MTN had sent a customer notice, seen by Reuters, informing them that services could be disrupted due to rising insecurity in different parts of the country.

EFF demand the Chinese, Russian vaccine be approved for use in South Africa
16 June 2021, 11:04 PM

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says his party will picket outside the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) headquarters in Pretoria on Friday next week, to demand that the Chinese vaccine and that of Russia be approved for use in South Africa.

He says the delay by government in driving the vaccination process is going to cost a lot of lives.

He was addressing EFF members at the Hoërskool Uitsig in Centurion, Pretoria, commemorating the June 1976 student up-risings.

He says should they not be happy, they will stage a sit-in at the house of SAHPRA CEO, Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela until their call is heeded.

“After picketing there next week Friday, they have seven days to approve the Russian vaccine and the Chinese vaccine, failure to do so, will do stage sleep in at the house of the CEO of SAHPRA until they protect us, it is personal
like that.

We are going to her house, we want her to approve Sputnik and Chinese vaccine to add on what we have now.”

Meanwhile South Africa’s COVID-19 cases amid the third wave has broken the 13 000 mark.

The Health Department says 13 246 cases were reported overnight, which represents a 21.7% positivity rate.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, this is the highest number of daily cases and positivity rate since January.

The country now has 1 774 312 coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.

Hundred and 36 new fatalities were reported overnight, taking the total national death toll to 58 223.

Pre-trial hearings begin in Maradona death case
15 June 2021, 5:00 AM

An Argentine prosecutor began hearing evidence on Monday involving seven people accused of contributing to the death of soccer player Diego Maradona.

Maradona, the revered former Boca Juniors and Napoli star who had alcohol and drug addictions for many years, died last November 25 from heart failure at the age of 60 after undergoing brain surgery earlier that month.

A medical board formally appointed to investigate Maradona’s death concluded that several members of the star’s medical team acted in an “inappropriate, deficient and reckless manner,” and said he was not properly monitored before he died.

Monday’s pre-trial hearing had been delayed by an increase in coronavirus infections in Argentina.

It began with questions to the nurse who, according to his own witness statement, was the last person to see Maradona alive.

Questions will be put in the coming days to Maradona’s doctor, psychologist, neurosurgeon and personal physician, amongst others.

When the medical board’s report was presented to prosecutors in May, it accused the defendants of carrying out a plan with a “criminal purpose” and as part of a deficient care system around Maradona that contributed to his death.

If found guilty, all seven could face between eight and 25 years in prison.

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