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Burundi prison fire kills 38 inmates, injures dozens more: Vice President

At least 38 inmates were killed and dozens more injured in a fire on Tuesday at the main prison in Burundi’s capital Gitega, the country’s vice president said.

Twelve died of asphyxia as they tried to flee the burning buildings and 26 died of severe injuries, Vice President Prosper Bazombanza told reporters at the Gitega Prison after the fire.

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He did not say what might have caused the blaze. Two local residents said fire broke out before dawn.

Many of those who died were elderly prisoners, a resident who arrived at the prison as the fire was still raging told Reuters. He said he saw bodies being taken by ambulance from the scene.

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US Senate backs repeal of decades-old Iraq war authorizations

A majority of the US Senate backed legislation on Wednesday to repeal two decades-old authorizations for past wars in Iraq, as Congress pushes to reassert its role over deciding whether to send troops into combat.

The Senate voted 66-30 in favor of legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, well above the 51-vote majority needed to pass the measure that would formally end the Gulf and Iraq wars.

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To become law, the repeal of the two Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, must still pass the Republican-led House of Representatives, where its prospects are less certain.

All of the votes against repeal in the Senate were from Republicans and the party's leader in the chamber Mitch McConnell issued a statement opposing it.

Biden has said he will sign the legislation, if it reaches his desk.

Twenty years after the March 2003 US invasion, the vote was a historic step away from a war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, complicated policy in the Middle East and bitterly divided US politics.

It was also lawmakers' latest effort to reclaim Congress' authority over whether troops should be sent into combat, which backers of the repeal said had been improperly ceded to the White House as the Senate and House of Representatives passed and then failed to repeal open-ended war authorizations.

Read more: Twenty years later, US Senate may finally end authorization for war on Iraq

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Seven jailed in terrorism probe in Belgium            

Seven people were imprisoned in Belgium Wednesday in two investigations into “possible terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said.

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The seven, five Belgians as well as a Turk and a Bulgarian, were charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group.

Five of them were also charged with “preparation of a terrorist offence,” the prosecutor said.

Raids were conducted late Monday on homes in the capital Brussels, the port city of Antwerp and the border town of Eupen, the federal prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

Eight were arrested in the raids, but one of the suspects arrested in Antwerp has since been released.

These were in relation to two inquiries — one led by federal police in Brussels and the other by an investigating magistrate in Antwerp.

The parallel investigations triggered a raid in Molenbeek, an inner-city Brussels district that has been the focus of some previous terror probes.

More details of the potential targets of these attacks have not yet been released.

The investigations in Antwerp and Brussels had initially focused on “two young adults suspected of violent radicalism,” state broadcaster RTBF reported.

The country’s biggest ever criminal trial of nine suspects accused of taking part in the March 2016 suicide bombings that killed 32 people is underway in Brussels.

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Iran’s embassy in Greece denies anti-Semitic attack plot in country

Iran’s embassy in Greece on Wednesday denied any connection to an alleged plot for anti-Semitic attacks in Athens using Pakistanis of Iranian origin.

“The embassy of the Republic of Iran strongly denies the rumors spread by Zionist sources and their baseless accusations against Iran. It is obvious that their fabricated scenarios are intended to divert the public's attention from their internal crisis,” it said on Twitter.
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Greek police on Tuesday said they had arrested two young Pakistanis of Iranian origin who were planning attacks on areas frequented by Israelis in central Athens.

The source said that the men had targeted a building which houses a Jewish restaurant and a prayer center.

Police spokeswoman Constantia Dimoglidou told AFP the “mastermind” of the cell is “a Pakistani who lives outside Europe.”

A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the person lived in Iran.

Israel accused Tehran of being behind the plot and said its national intelligence agency Mossad had helped avert an attack.

“After the investigation of the suspects in Greece, the Mossad helped untangle the intelligence of the network, its operational methods and ties to Iran,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“As part of the investigation, it emerged that the infrastructure in Greece was part of a broad Iranian network, operated from Iran toward many countries,” a statement said.

The announcement came as Greece's under-fire prime minister announced elections would be held on May 21, as popular anger seethes over government failures blamed in last month's train tragedy that killed 57 people.

Greece’s intelligence agency EYP has also faced pressure in past months over a wiretap scandal that erupted last year.
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