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  1. Ethiopia's Tigray conflict: Drone strikes hit Mekelle

    Line Tsigab

    BBC Tigrinya

    Damaged roof
    Image caption: Photos from Mekelle show how buildings were damaged by the strike

    Ethiopia’s air force has carried out drone attacks in two places in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, witnesses say.

    The attacks appear to be part of the year-long conflict between the federal government and rebel forces from Tigray.

    The first drone strike hit at 09:00 local time in a residential neighbourhood known as Diaspora.

    Witnesses who spoke to the BBC said the attack had damaged homes.

    One resident described how his home had been destroyed.

    “We’re civilians and there is no military place around, but the shell fell on my home,” he said.

    “When the bombardment happened, I was with my family on the ground floor. We are alive, but my possessions, which I have gathered over 27 years, were utterly destroyed by the attack.”

    Another resident told the BBC: ”God saved my life. I lost my belongings, but that doesn’t matter, I can buy them with money.”

    BBC Tigrinya has seen video and pictures from sources in Mekelle which show damaged homes.

    Witnesses said a second strike hit the city at around 12:30 local time.

    When asked to comment, federal government spokesman Legesse Tulu told the BBC that he had no information on the latest assault.

    Mekelle has been hit from the air several times since last month.

  2. From Madina to the Universe: M.Anifest

    DJ Edu

    Presenter of This Is Africa on BBC World Service


    M.Anifest has to be one of Africa’s coolest cats. Unfailingly stylish in an alternative, artistic kind of way, the Ghanaian rapper also has a poet’s way with words.

    In songs like Invisible, No Shortcut to Heaven and Someway Bi he paints gritty word pictures about life on the street in Accra, Ghana. His bars are rich in observed detail, and wry in commentary.

    He’s been in the game for a while, and he has always ploughed his own furrow, nodding to the explosion of talent and the dominant genres around him, but ultimately doing his own thing.

    Madina to the Universe is M.Anifest’s latest album, just dropped on 18 November. It features Vic Mensa, Adekunle Gold, Patoranking, Ladipoe, M3nsa, Tiggs da Author, Moliy, and M.Anifest’s Mum!

    The title refers to the neighbourhood in Accra where he grew up and where his mother and grandmother still live.

    "It’s very highly populated, mainly low-income people, with some middle-class people like myself who grew up there. It’s a beautiful collage of people, there’s a lot of Muslims, a lot of Ewe, northerners…it’s a very lively neighbourhood and it epitomises what a typical urban neighourhood in Ghana looks like.

    "So Madina to the Universe is saying a person from this neighbourhood has grander ambitions, to take their ideas, thoughts and represent and take it to the Universe."

    The first single M.Anifest chose to release ahead of the album was the sultry love song, La Vida:

    "La Vida is a song where I imagine myself driving in a droptop with a lover, doing wild and free things… it just had a really fresh feeling, it felt progressive, it felt like a sound that was not like everything going on, so I wanted it to set the tone of what this album is going to be about.

    "This album is going to help people understand that it is ok to do something different. I’ve always represented that – M.Anifest is not coming to continue with whatever trends are here, I’m coming to bring something fresh into the ecosystem."

    Perhaps the song which demonstrates M.Anifest’s originality best is Weeping Clouds. Inspired by an unspecified loss he has suffered, the sadness of the words is in direct contrast to the rousing arrangement:

    "When you look at highlife music for instance, when they would talk about difficult things, whether it’s the dead or a lover doing them wrong, the music would still have something people could jam to.

    "So in this song you hear the horns that people are going to be doing call and response to, so it’s very celebratory. It’s not because people don’t feel the pain, but that’s how you exorcise it, it’s catharsis.

    "I really love that song because it feels experimental, it doesn’t have a traditional structure, I don’t do any verses, the horns do all the verses for me."

    You can hear DJ Edu’s conversation with M.Anifest on This is Africa this Saturday, on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa, as well as online here:

  3. South African health minister slams travel bans

    Joe Phaahla speaking during a press conference

    South Africa's health minister has condemned the travel restrictions being imposed against the country after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant.

    Speaking to reporters on Friday evening, Joe Phaahla says the introduction of travel restrictions by a number of countries against southern African nations are "completely against the norms and standards" set out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    “We want to reassure South Africans that some of the reaction has been unjustified,” Phaahla says.

    He adds that foreign scientists have not presented any evidence that the new variant has the capacity to evade protection offered by vaccines, though he accepts that early signs suggest it is more transmissible.

    He calls on South Africans to come forward and receive the jab, which he says remains a "major bulwark" against infection and severe illness.

  4. UN alarmed by attack on court handling Gaddafi case

    BBC World Service

    Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
    Image caption: Earlier this month Saif al-Islam Gaddafi registered to run for president but has since been disqualified

    The UN has expressed alarm about a reported attack on a Libyan court where Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's lawyer was trying to lodge an appeal against his ban from next month's presidential election.

    The son of the late Libyan dictator was disqualified on Thursday by Libya's election commission, on the basis of a 2015 conviction for war crimes by a Tripoli court.

    Mr Gaddafi's lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, said armed men had raided the court in the southern city of Sebha and had stopped him entering to lodge his client's appeal.

    Sebha is under the control of a group allied to Khalifa Haftar, another of the main candidates.

  5. French convoy delayed by protests reaches Niger

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A French military convoy has reached Niger after being delayed for more than a week by protests in Burkina Faso.

    The supply convoy of several dozen vehicles is en route to Gao in Mali where France has a military base for its operations against jihadist insurgents.

    After entering Burkina Faso last week, the convoy was slowed by protests including one in the capital Ouagadougou.

    Some in the country are angry that the presence of thousands of French soldiers has failed to stop the attacks by Islamist militants in the Sahel.

    In the city of Kaya several thousand people blocked the road leading to clashes.

  6. West African neighbours vow firmer hand on Guinea

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh

    BBC News, Monrovia

    Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast say they will step up efforts to bring Guinea back to civilian rule, following September's coup.

    All four countries are part of the regional group, the Mano River Union (MRU), which held a two-day conference in Libera where delegates committed to more rigorous engagement with Guinea's military junta.

    MRU Secretary General Medina Wesseh told the BBC that his team was asked to talk to the authorities in Guinea "to develop a framework for the return to constitutional rule in Guinea".

    Named after a river that separates Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Mano River Union was formed in the 1970s to promote peace and trade with Liberia Guinea and Sierra Leone as its original members. Ivory Coast joined later.

    The body has in recent decades, instead, concentrated more on conflict resolution because all of its members have been involved in different forms of armed conflicts.

  7. University sorry for poster that blamed rape victims

    A Kenyan university has apologised after photos circulated online of a banner on campus that blamed rape on how women choose to dress.

    The Co-operative University of Kenya acknowledged that the claims on the poster - that "indecent dressing leads to sexual harassment and rape" - were false.

    It said the "misleading and highly regrettable" banner encouraging a dress code for students had been put up without its approval by a student body.

    "We wish to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all forms of gender-based violence and harassment are eradicated," the university's statement read:

    View more on twitter
  8. Ethiopia PM seen in combat gear after vowing to fight

    BBC World Service

    Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a rural location wearing a military uniform, after saying days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict.
    Image caption: Abiy Ahmed said days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict

    The Ethiopian government has announced new restrictions on reporting the war, in which Tigrayan rebels are said to be continuing their advance towards the capital.

    In a warning to news outlets and social media users, it has banned the reporting of any military movements or updates from the battlefield - unless the information has been approved by the government.

    Meanwhile state media have shown footage of the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a rural location wearing a military uniform, after saying days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict.

    In an interview he sounded defiant and said government troops had retaken some territory.

  9. New variant transmitting at great speed - SA scientist

    A healthcare worker administers the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to a woman in Soweto

    One of the lead investigators of the new variant has told the BBC that the virus is "transmitting at great speed" in parts of South Africa.

    Prof Tulio de Oliveira, a virologist and Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, says that infections in Gauteng province - which contains the country's largest city, Johannesburg - appear to be "amplified".

    "We hope that we are wrong on this," he tells the BBC's Newsday programme, adding that teams are trying to establish how transmissible the new variant is.

    He says, however, that he expects existing vaccines to continue to provide some protection.

    "We hope - and expect - that vaccines will protect against hospitalisations. We still think that, at the moment, vaccines are our best weapon."

  10. 'I'll worry about quarantine in January'

    Pumza Fihlani

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    Passengers queue to get a PCR test before travelling on international flights, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Friday feels like an ordinary day at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport - the arrivals lounge a hive of excitement with people waiting for their loved-ones from various parts of the world.

    They arrived to long hugs and some tears of joy.

    Among them were travellers from the UK – many of would’ve only found out about the UK’s decision to put South Africa back on the “red list” when they touched down this morning.

    Darryl Warren

    One of them is South African Darryl Warren, who works in the UK.

    “Of course I’m worried about the costs of having to quarantine when I return to work because it can get quite expensive, but I’ll worry about that in January. For now it’s good to be back,” he says.

  11. South Sudan capital gets a new mayor

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Michael Lado Allajabu has been appointed mayor of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, after Kalisto Lado Faustino was sacked last week without any reason given.

    The new appointment was announced by the governor.

    Mayor Allajabu's welcoming ceremony was attended by Mr Faustino - who said that even though he was not invited, he wanted to demonstrate how leadership should be exercised.

    He said he wanted to show Mr Allajabu respect and hand over the office properly.

    The new mayor said he would continue with the reform agenda and that he would introduce digital tax collection systems in order to minimise corruption in the city.

    Improvement projects by the outgoing mayor had rattled some people as illegal structures were demolished to pave way for roads aimed at minimising traffic.

  12. SA set to hold crucial Covid meeting

    It is expected that South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa will order a meeting of the country's National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) this Sunday, according to an announcement on the government news agency's Twitter.

    The council will assess developments in the pandemic as well as the new variant that has been discovered locally.

    Several countries are restricting travel to parts of southern Africa since the emergence of B.1.1.529.

    Outcomes from the NCCC help inform the country's policies on lockdown restrictions, according to the Reuters news agency.

    View more on twitter
  13. Video content

    Video caption: Covid: Javid explains travel rules for southern Africa

    The health secretary details travel restrictions brought in amid concern about a new Covid variant.

  14. SA minister 'disappointed' by UK travel curbs

    The UK's decision to impose restrictions on South African travel is "disappointing" and the country remains "open for business and tourism travel" South Africa's minister of tourism says.

    In a statement on Twitter, Lindiwe Sisulu says South Africa will continue working with countries who are limiting travel "to ensure that the best possible interventions are put in place".

    So far the UK, Israel, Italy, Japan and other countries are placing curbs on travel from southern African countries because of a new Covid-19 variant.

    View more on twitter
  15. ICC cuts Malian jihadist's jail term by two years

    Malian jihadist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi looks on at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on September 27, 2016,
    Image caption: Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi destroyed ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reduced the prison sentence of Malian jihadist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi by two years.

    He was in 2016 jailed for nine years for destroying ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu but will now serve seven.

    In reducing the term, ICC judges said they had considered factors including "his prospect for resocialisation and resettlement and his cooperation since he was surrendered to the Court in September 2015".

    "The date for the completion of his sentence is therefore set to 18 September 2022," the ICC said in a statement on Thursday.

    Al-Madi was found guilty for war crimes for intentionally directing attacks against Unesco world heritage religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu in 2012.

    The court found he had not only offered "logistical and moral support" for the attacks, but also took part in the physical destruction of at least five out of the 10 buildings.

    He had admitted the charges and was remorseful, the court heard.

    In October, he apologised for his role in the destruction as he asked judges to release him from prison.

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