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Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed claims war gains, urges rebels to ‘surrender’

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged Tigrayan rebels to surrender, claiming government forces were nearing victory just one week after he vowed to lead military operations at the front.

“The youth of Tigray is perishing like leaves. Knowing it is defeated, it is being led by one who does not have a clear vision or plan,” Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said in comments aired on state media.

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“It should surrender today to the Ethiopian National Defense Force, to the special forces, to the militias and to the people.”

Tuesday’s footage was the latest in a series of clips showing Abiy, in uniform with soldiers, in what appeared to be the northeastern region of Afar.

The area has been the site of fierce fighting in recent weeks as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group tries to seize control of a critical highway that supplies the capital Addis Ababa.

On Sunday state media claimed the army controlled the lowland Afar town of Chifra, and Abiy said Tuesday such gains would be replicated to the west, in Amhara region.

“The enemy has been defeated. We scored an unthinkable victory with the eastern command in one day… Now in the west we will repeat this victory,” he said.

The announcement last week that Abiy, a former lieutenant-colonel in the military, would head to the battlefield came after the TPLF claimed to control Shewa Robit, a town just 220 kilometers (135 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa by road.

Fears of a rebel march on the capital have prompted the United States, France, the United Kingdom and other countries to urge their citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible, though Abiy’s government says TPLF gains are overstated, and the city is secure.

A TPLF spokesman on Monday dismissed Abiy’s deployment as a “circus” involving “farcical war games.”

War broke out between the two sides in November 2020, with Abiy sending troops into the northernmost Tigray region to topple the TPLF – a move he said came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

The fighting has killed thousands, displaced more than two million and driven hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates.

Diplomats led by Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, are trying to broker a ceasefire, though there has been little evident progress so far.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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