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UN calls for probe into rape allegations in Sudan protests

The UN human rights office on Tuesday called for an independent investigation into allegations of sexual violence including rape and gang rape during mass anti-coup protests in Sudan earlier this week, a spokeswoman said.

Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN human rights office in Geneva, said they received “disturbing” reports alleging that 13 women and girls were raped or gang raped in the demonstrations on Sunday in the capital, Khartoum.

There was no immediate comment from Sudan’s government.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan on Sunday, marking the third anniversary of the uprising that forced the removal of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

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The rallies turned violent in many places as security forces moved against the protesters. At least two people were killed and over 300 others were wounded, according the Sudan Doctors Committee, a professional medical union.

Women were reportedly sexually harassed while fleeing the area around the presidential palace in Khartoum when Sudanese forces fired tear gas and live ammunition there to disperse the protests, Throssell.

“We urge a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the allegations of rape and sexual harassment, as well as the allegations of death and injury of protesters as a result of the unnecessary or disproportionate use of force, in particular use of live ammunition,” she said.

It was not the first time Sudanese security forces face accusations of sexual violence against female protesters.

On June 3, 2019, dozens of women were raped when forces tore apart a sit-in camp outside the military's headquarters in Khartoum, according to the doctors committee and the testimonies of several of the women.

Sunday’s protests were one of the largest since the military took over on Oct. 25, removing Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government in a coup that rattled the country's fragile transition to democracy and led to relentless street demonstrations.

At least 46 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in protests triggered by the coup, according to a tally by the Sudanese medical group. Hamdok was reinstated last month amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight led by him.

However, Sudan's pro-democracy movement rejects the deal and has vowed to continue street protests to pressure coup leaders to hand over power to a fully civilian government to lead the transition.

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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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