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Rwanda closes border with DRC over deadly Ebola outbreak

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Rwanda has closed its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where a deadly Ebola outbreak that started a year ago has killed more than 1,803 people.

Congo’s presidency on Thursday said that Rwandan authorities had closed the border between Goma and its nearest town of Gisenyi for all people other than Congolese citizens leaving Rwanda.

Goma had its second case of Ebola fever confirmed this week.

The closure came after a second death linked to the Ebola virus was confirmed on Wednesday in the densely populated Congolese city of Goma, which is on the porous border with Rwanda.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which declared the DRC outbreak a global health emergency in July, has recommended against travel or trade restrictions.

It has also said the risk of regional spread was “very high”.

The DRC presidency’s office said it regretted what it described as a unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities to restrict movement at the border, “which runs counter to the advice of the WHO”.

Earlier on Thursday, a DRC official said the one-year-old daughter of the man who died on Wednesday was at a treatment centre after showing signs of the disease.

He had spent several days at home with his family while showing symptoms.

If this suspected case is confirmed, it could be the first transmission of Ebola in this outbreak inside Goma, a city of more than two million people.

Goma is a major transport hub that shares the border with the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which has a population of more than 85,000.

Cross-frontier links are intense. Many people have jobs on the other side of the border while others have homes or put their children in schools in the neighbouring city.

Health experts fear outbreaks of contagious diseases in major cities.

In an urban setting, density of population, anonymity and high mobility make it far harder to isolate patients and trace contacts compared to the countryside.

The painstaking work of finding, tracking and vaccinating people, who had contact with the man who died on Wednesday and the contacts of those contacts has begun.

The escalating crisis has led to a row within the DRC’s health ministry, which is co-ordinating national efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Last week the DRC’s health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, resigned in protest of the country’s handling of the Ebola outbreak.

He said international agencies were pressuring his government to allow the testing of a new vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

The row over the vaccine trials began after Ilunga reportedly banned clinical trials of the new vaccine in DRC.

Ebola vaccines are difficult to develop because they have to be tested during outbreaks.

In the previous outbreak in West Africa, one vaccine, produced by Merck, was successfully trialled in Guinea.

The success of that trial meant preventive Merck vaccines could be given to citizens in the DRC and potentially contains the outbreak.

Ilunga has argued trialling vaccines in Ebola-affected regions could erode public trust in the government.

Last week Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to people from DRC while citing the Ebola outbreak, shortly before the annual Hajj pilgrimage there this month.

Rwandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ministry, Olivier Nduhungirehe, said: “Yes it has been closed, but for details you can call immigration and ministry of health because it is about Ebola.” (Reuters/NAN)

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Top DPRK leader guides test-fire of new weapon again – KCNA

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Weapon

The report said the national defence scientists, whom Kim praised for having developed the weapon in a “shortest span of time,” showed “a perfect result” in the test-fire and helped boost confidence in this weapon system.

But it did not elaborate what kind of new weapon it was.

Kim stressed the need to keep channelling all-state efforts and render unreserved support to the sacred national defence building “so as to reliably guarantee the sovereignty and security of the country and the happy future of the people,’’ according to KCNA.

He also said the core plan of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea for defence building is to “possess such a powerful force, strong enough to discourage any forces from daring to provoke us’’.

The DPRK on Friday fired two unidentified short-range projectiles off its east coast into the sea, according to South Korea’s military.

It was the sixth round of launches in recent weeks and happened after the joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States kicked off on Aug. 5.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Pakistani PM welcomes UN meeting on Kashmir issue

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Meeting

The Security Council on Friday held an informal consultation on India-Pakistan question and listened to the briefings given by the UN Secretariat on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the work of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

The Council members said they are deeply concerned about the current situation and hope that the relevant parties will exercise restraint and not take unilateral action that will escalate tensions.

They called on both sides to properly resolve the issue through dialogue.

“It is for the first time in over 50 years that the world’s highest diplomatic forum has taken up this issue.

“There are 11 UNSC resolutions, reiterating the Kashmiris right to self-determination,’’ the Pakistani Prime Minister wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan had called for the UN meeting to discuss the situation in Kashmir following the Indian government’s decision on Aug. 5 to revoke the special status of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

After India’s decision, Pakistan in reaction downgraded its diplomatic ties and suspended trade relations and train service with India.

Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, presided over a meeting of a special committee of political parties on Saturday to discuss a joint strategy in the prevailing situation following the Indian government’s decision, the foreign office said.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Hong Kong protesters disperse as police march on shopping district

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Protesters

Protesters have occupied streets and transport hubs in Hong Kong since early June when mass demonstrations began against legislation that put citizens at risk of extradition to China.

As of Sunday, the Asian financial hub will have seen protests for 11 consecutive weeks.

Protesters gathered at the Mong Kok police station in the early evening, but when riot police suddenly emerged, they began to move away and disappeared into crowds of shoppers and bystanders.

The riot police, wielding batons and shields, then marched through Mong Kok district, prompting cafes and restaurants to suddenly pull down their shutters, but clashes never came.

Bystanders, meanwhile, jeered at police from a pedestrian walkway and threw bags of ice onto police vehicles before an officer pointed what appeared to be fire nonlethal bean bag rounds at unarmed citizens.

Earlier, protesters threw eggs and shined laser pointers at a group of officers gathered in front of the building’s entrance – an increasingly common tactic to keep police cameras from filming protesters and identifying them later for arrest.

As protesters shouted obscenities, many police responded in turn.

The standoff followed a peaceful march through Kowloon on Saturday afternoon despite rainfall that saw many protesters express anger at police violence over weeks of demonstration.

“I think it is most important that we have to stop Hong Kong police from using violence.

“As we can see in the last few months, many protesters have gotten shot above their shoulders and this is illegal,’’ protester Yoyo Wong told dpa.

“Hong Kong police should be protecting Hong Kongers, not hurting them.

“That’s why we come out.’’

One older protester, who identified herself as Mrs Lai, said she was there to support young people.

“We fight for freedom,’’ she said.

“We fight for Hong Kong’s next generation.’’

Lai said she was angry police had arrested so many young people.

“I think the Hong Kong government totally ignores the voice of the Hong Kong people,’’ she said.

“If we don’t march, we will lose our freedom.’’

While most of the march was peaceful, as it came to an end, some protesters defaced a number of pro-Beijing symbols as they walked, including throwing eggs at the offices of a pro-China political party and defacing the walls of a major trade union that also has strong links.

The European Union on Saturday urged the Hong Kong police and protesters to use restraint as protests intensify.

“There has recently been a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents, with risks of further violence and instability,’’ EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement.

“It is crucial that restraint is exercised, violence rejected and urgent steps are taken to de-escalate the situation,’’ Mogherini said.

Protests began on June 9 against a now-suspended legislative bill that would have allowed for criminal extradition to mainland China.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Italy says six EU states will take in Open Arms migrants

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Migrants

The migrants have been stranded on the Spanish charity ship ‘Open Arms’ since it picked them up off Libya in early August, and Rome’s far-right Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow them to disembark.

“The migrants will be shared out among France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg,’’ Conte said in an open letter to Salvini, in which he accused the minister of disloyalty and being “obsessed” with closing Italy’s ports to migrants.

The Open Arms, operated by a Spanish charity of the same name, was in Italian territorial waters on Thursday, a day after a Rome administrative court gave it leave to enter them, countermanding Salvini’s ban.

Before Conte’s announcement, Spain said it was working with other EU states and the European Commission to find a “common… and orderly solution’’, and was willing to “participate in a balanced distribution of migrants on board the ship’’.

French and German officials confirmed talks were underway to resolve this latest in a series of flashpoints over immigration involving Italy and one that has fuelled infighting in a coalition government in Rome that is close to collapse.

Salvini, who heads the League party that forms part of the coalition, issued an emergency order to prevent Open Arms arriving at the Italian island of Lampedusa. But the Defence Minister, who is from the League’s partner party 5-Star, refused to countersign it.

Openly challenging the League leader, who has so far dictated Italy’s immigration policy, Elisabetta Trenta said defying the court was illegal and that “politics must not lose its humanity’’.

The League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement were already in open conflict after Salvini said last week the alliance had become unworkable and called for elections.

The League has tabled a motion of no-confidence in the government, and the premier Conte, a former academic, who is not from either ruling party, vented his anger in his open letter to Salvini.

He accused the far-right leader of “disloyal collaboration” by misrepresenting Conte’s own position, and of exploiting the issue of immigration for electoral gain rather than seeking necessary solutions with Italy’s partners.

Hollywood star Richard Gere visited the Open Arms last week and urged the Italian government to stop “demonising people” and allow the boat to disembark.

The charity’s spokeswoman said the ship was anchored five miles (eight kilometres) off Lampedusa.

Spanish public broadcaster TVE, who are present on the Open Arms, interviewed a migrant, who said they would only really rejoice once they will have reached the shore.

“We need to touch the ground, life is over there, here it’s death,’’ said the woman, whom TVE did not name.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Arsenal open season with two straight wins after beating Burnley

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League

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored as the Gunners won their opening two matches for the first time in 10 years.

Lacazette and Ashley Barnes traded first-half goals before Aubameyang scored a 64th-minute winner.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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