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Obituary: Mustafa ben Halim, Libya’s third prime minister, dies aged 100

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Mustafa ben Halim, the former Prime Minister during the Senussi led constitutional monarchy period of the Kingdom of Libya, has passed away in the United Arab Emirates aged 100.

Bin Halim was the third prime minister of Libya after its independence in 1951, and was commissioned to form the government in 1954 before submitting his resignation in 1957.

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He had previously been in charge of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he was appointed prime minister.

The centenarian authored a number of books throughout his storied lifetime, most notably the "Folded Pages of Libya's Political History" and "Libya: The Resurrection of a Nation and the Fall of a State."

According to his family members, Ben Halim passed away on Tuesday, December 4, in the United Arab Emirates.

Ben Halim was prohibited from entering his country Libya during the era of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi but had returned from exile in 2011 following the fall of the late dictator.

The late Libyan politician was born in 1921 in Alexandria, Egypt, after Italy had arrested his father. He studied engineering in Egypt and graduated in 1946, before returning to his country of origin Libya.

Ben Halim also held the lead posts at the Ministry of Communications until December 1954, and then held the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After his resignation, Libya’s King appointed him as a special advisor with the rank of a prime minister. He was then sent to Paris to take over the mission of Libya's ambassador to France from 1958 to 1960, becoming Libya’s first ambassador to Paris.

Consequently, Ben Halim moved away from political activity and turned his focus on entrepreneurship, but in the spring of 1964 King Idris summoned him to ask him to for his assistance in reforming the structures of the Libyan state, but the failure of these reforms prompted him to move away from politics once again.

The Libyan military coup of September 1, 1969 coincided with his and his family’s presence in Europe. He did not return to Libya until after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. He visited the city of Benghazi, where the National Transitional Council of the Libyan Revolution held an official reception for him as a former prime minister.

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Stampede at Liberian church gathering kills 29

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A stampede has killed at least 29 people at a religious event in the suburbs of the Liberian capital Monrovia, police said on Thursday.

Those who died from the incident include 11 children and a pregnant woman.

The bodies have been taken to the morgue of Redemption Hospital, close to where the incident occurred in a beach area called New Kru Town.

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The stampede erupted when a gang of thugs armed with knives attacked some of the hundreds attending the ceremony at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, police spokesman Moses Carter told The Associated Press.

One person has been arrested, he said.

Local media said it was a Christian prayer gathering, known in Liberia as a “crusade,” held in a football field.

Witness Emmanuel Gray, 26, told AFP he heard “heavy noise” towards the end and saw several dead bodies.

Street gangs have become an increasing problem in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years, according to residents.

President George Weah was expected to visit the scene Thursday, according to Liberian media reports.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is an impoverished country that is still recovering after back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, as well as the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

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US sanctions Liberia’s ex-warlord and senator Prince Johnson

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US approves ballistic requests to ship US weapons to Ukraine

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The US has approved requests by Baltic nations to ship US-made weapons to Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, officials said Thursday.

A State Department official in Berlin, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken was holding talks on Ukraine, said the US was “expediting authorized transfers of US-origin equipment from other allies.”

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“European allies have what they need to move forward on additional security assistance (to) Ukraine in the coming days and weeks,” the official said.

A source familiar with the authorisations said the approval was for urgent requests by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to assist Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic.

The exact amounts and types of weapons were not specified, but the Baltic nations’ arsenals include Javelins, portable missiles capable of destroying tanks.

Tens of thousands of Russian troops, along with tanks and artillery, have been deployed near the Ukrainian border since late last year, rattling the three Baltic nations, which are members of NATO.

President Joe Biden’s administration since last year has approved $650 million in weapons to Ukraine, $200 million of it last month amid fears of war.

While the Biden administration boasts that the shipments are the most ever by the US, Ukraine has voiced hope for military supplies as quickly as possible, with shipments from nearby countries especially valuable.

Britain has also rushed to support Ukraine, announcing on Monday that it was sending anti-tank weapons.

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Explainer: What are US military options to help Ukraine if Russia invades

US senators work on bipartisan bill to aid Ukraine

Ukrainian president thanks US for help during ‘difficult time’

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Bomb blast in Pakistan’s Lahore kills two, injures 16

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At least two people were killed and 16 injured Thursday by a bomb blast in a busy shopping district of the Pakistani city of Lahore, police said.

“Initial investigations show that it was a time-controlled device on a motorbike which was the cause of the blast,” Rana Arif, spokesman for Lahore police, told AFP.

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