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More than 30 civilians killed, bodies burnt in Myanmar’s Kayah state

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More than 30 people, including women and children, were killed and their bodies burnt in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah state on Friday, according to a local resident, media reports and a local human rights group.

Karenni Human Rights Group said they found the burnt bodies of internally displaced people, including elders, women and children killed by the military that rules Myanmar, near Mo So village of Hpruso town on Saturday.

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“We strongly denounce the inhumane and brutal killing which violates human rights,” the group said in a Facebook post.
The Myanmar military said it had shot and killed an unspecified number of “terrorists with weapons” from the opposition armed forces in the village, state media said. The people were in seven vehicles and did not stop for the military, it said.
The Myanmar military could not immediately be reached for comment.
Photos shared by the human rights group and local media showed the charred remains of bodies on burnt-out truckbeds.
The Karenni National Defense Force, one of the largest of several civilian militias opposing the junta that led a Feb. 1 coup, said the dead were not their members but civilians seeking refuge from the conflict.
“We were so shocked at seeing that all the dead bodies were different sizes, including children, women and old people,” a commander from group told Reuters, asking not to be named.
A villager who asked not to be named for security reasons said he was aware of the fire on Friday night but could not go to the scene as there was shooting.
“I went to see this morning. I saw dead bodies that had been burnt, and also the clothes of children and women spread around,” he told Reuters by phone.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi almost 11 months ago, claiming fraud in a November election that her party had won. International observers have said the ballot was fair.
Civilians enraged by the coup and subsequent crackdown on protesters have been taking up arms. Many local resistance forces have sprung up across the country.
The military has outlawed many opponents, labelling them traitors or terrorists, including a self-proclaimed National Unity Government that seeks to lobby the international community and prevent the junta from consolidating power.

Read more: Myanmar fighting forces 4,200 people to flee across border into Thailand

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Russian and UK defense ministers to meet over Ukraine

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has accepted an invitation to meet his British counterpart Ben Wallace to discuss the crisis on the Russia-Ukraine border, a senior UK defense source said Saturday.

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“The Defense Secretary is glad that Russia has accepted the invitation to talk with his counterpart,” the source said.

“Given the last defense bilateral between our two countries took place in London in 2013, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has offered to meet in Moscow instead,” added the source.

“The Secretary of State has been clear that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukraine crisis.”

Tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s border, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles.

Russia has denied it plans to invade but the White House believes an attack could now come “at any point.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned on Friday that Moscow risks becoming embroiled in a “terrible quagmire” if it invades.

In a speech in Australia, the UK’s top diplomat issued a blunt and personal warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is on the brink of making a major strategic blunder.

He “has not learned the lessons of history,” Truss told Sydney’s Lowy Institute.

“The Ukrainians will fight this, it could be a quagmire” she said.

Britain is among a handful of Western nations rushing weapons such as anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

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At least six killed in blast in western Afghan city of Herat

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A blast ripped through a minivan in the western Afghan city of Herat on Saturday, killing at least six people, according to officials.

Herat commander Mawlawi Ansari told Reuters that nine people had been injured. The cause of the blast was not clear.

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A health official in Herat, who asked not to be named, said an explosion hit a small van used for public transport just after 1800 local time and that three of the injured were in serious condition.

Since the Taliban took over in August, a series of blasts and attacks, some claimed by Islamic State, have taken place across Afghanistan.

The attacks have heightened the new administration’s security challenges as the country spirals into an economic crisis.

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Arab League delays annual summit as COVID-19 bites again

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The Arab League has announced it is delaying its annual summit scheduled for March 22 in Algiers because of COVID-19 after two years of cancellations due to the pandemic.

“Every year, the summit is held in March, but this year, there has been a delay,” the pan-Arab organization’s assistant secretary general, Hossam Zaki, said in televised remarks Friday, a week after returning to Cairo from a visit to Algiers.

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The last Arab League summit was held in Tunis in March 2019. The past two years’ gatherings have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Zaki added that Algeria “preferred the option” of delaying the summit, noting that the critical mass of Arab leaders and high-ranking officials needed for the summit could not be guaranteed due to the public health situation.

Arab foreign ministers are expected to announce a new date for the summit during their scheduled meeting on March 9, Zaki said.

Zaki said that there were “no political reasons” behind the delay, but the time could be used to “improve political climates” in the region.

The summit is important for Algeria, which has been seeking to expand its political sphere of influence, against the backdrop of heightened tensions with Morocco.

No agenda has been announced for this year’s summit, but the Arab world remains plagued with multiple conflicts and crises.

These extend from the war in Yemen, which has killed nearly 400,000 people since 2015, to the 2021 coup in Sudan that resulted in its suspension from the African Union, as well as protracted crises in Libya, Lebanon and beyond.

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US commits to helping Saudi Arabia, Gulf partners defend against threats from Yemen

Libyan eastern parliament speaker calls for new government

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