News ID: 93206
Publish Date : 09 August 2021 - 21:50

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- A raging wildfire in northern California is now the second-largest recorded in state history, officials said, days after the blaze destroyed a historic gold rush town and forced the evacuation of thousands. The Dixie Fire had grown to more than 463,000 acres, or 724 square miles (1,876 square kilometers), and was 21% contained, according to state fire officials. The burned area is larger than the city of Houston. Only the August Complex Fire of August 2020, which consumed more than 1 million acres, was bigger. Thus far, no deaths have been attributed to the wildfire. There were five people missing as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office; two of them had been reported safe, though officials were still working on confirmation at the time. The fire is threatening nearly 14,000 structures, officials said, and has already destroyed more than 400, including virtually all of downtown Greenville, an old mining town about 160 miles north of Sacramento.

RIGA (FT) -- An imminent military exercise involving Russian and Belarusian troops risks an “incident” with NATO troops in the Baltic states or Poland, said Latvia’s foreign minister. Edgars Rinkevics told the Financial Times there was an increased chance of “misunderstandings, some actions that are not approved by superiors” when Russia’s Zapad military exercise takes place next month. “You have a border crisis, you have a major military exercise going on at the borders of NATO countries, you also have increased presence on our side, the Lithuanian side, Estonian side, Polish side of border guards, and military formations. Of course, this is increasing the possibility of incidents,” Rinkevics said. Tensions in the Baltic states rise every four years when Russia’s annual military exercises move to its western district bordering Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But Rinkevics said that this year’s Zapad exercise was particularly sensitive because of the “ongoing hybrid warfare element”.

LAGOS (Reuters) -- A politician was abducted from his home in northern Nigeria on Monday, authorities said, and a Swiss national was kidnapped in a separate incident in the southwest over the weekend, according to security sources. Abductions for ransom have become a big problem in many areas of Nigeria in recent months, fuelled in part by economic hardship linked to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Muhammad Sani Idris, a member of the state government in northern Niger State, was taken from his home in the village of Baban Tunga during the night by unknown assailants, a spokeswoman for the state governor said. In southwestern Ogun State, a Swiss national and his Nigerian driver were abducted on Saturday after a gunfight between their police escort and unknown attackers, according to security monitors operating in Nigeria.

BAMAKO (Reuters) -- At least 51 people were killed when takfiri militants raided three villages in central Mali near the border with Niger, a district administrator said on Monday. The towns of Ouatagouna, Karou and Deouteguef were simultaneously attacked around 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to a note from the Asongo district administrator to the governor of Gao region. Houses were ransacked and burned to the ground and herds of livestock carried away, said the note, which was seen by Reuters. “Provisional toll is 51 killed, several other injured,” it said. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attacks in the area where Malian troops, French and European forces, and United Nations peacekeepers have purportedly been battling insurgents linked to Daesh and Al-Qaeda.

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) -- At least 12 soldiers were killed in an attack in northwestern Burkina Faso and seven others are missing, three security sources said. There was no immediate comment from the army. The sources said the incident took place in the Toeni commune in the Boucle du Mouhoun region near the border with Mali. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. On Saturday, a special army unit killed two prominent takfiris in the same region, according to the Communications Ministry. Attacks by militants linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh are on the rise in West Africa’s Sahel region, killing thousands and displacing millions in recent years across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. On Wednesday, an armed group killed 30 civilians, army soldiers and pro-government militiamen in a series of attacks near Burkina Faso’s border with Niger.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) -- Sudan recalled its ambassador to neighboring Ethiopia, frustrated by the stance of Ethiopian officials whom it said were refusing Sudan’s offer to mediate in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday about the conflict in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, which has led to an influx of 53,400 refugees since late 2020. Hamdok’s offer came within the framework of his presidency of IGAD, a grouping that includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, the statement said. Relations have been soured by disputes over Al-Fashqa, an area of fertile land settled by Ethiopian farmers that Sudan says lies on its side of a border demarcated at the start of the 20th century, which Ethiopia rejects. The border tensions come at a time when Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are also trying to resolve a three-way row over Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

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