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Central African Republic reports 10,000 children still fighting with militant groups

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Central African Republic reports 10,000 children still fighting with militant groups

About 10,000 children are still fighting alongside armed groups in Central African Republic more than a decade after civil war broke out, the government said Monday.

Marthe Kirima, the minister for family and gender, said in a statement that children are still being recruited as fighters, spies, messengers, cooks and even used as sex slaves. While 15,000 children have escaped from rebel forces, she said, many are traumatized and find it difficult to return to normal life.

The mineral-rich but impoverished nation has had conflict since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced then-President Francois Bozize from office. Mostly Christian militias fought back, also targeting civilians.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC FACES HUMANITARIAN CRISIS WITH 2.4M PEOPLE IN NEED OF AID, UN SAYS

The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping mission in the country, estimates the fighting has killed thousands and displaced over a million people, or one-fifth of the population. In 2019, a peace deal was reached between the government and 14 armed groups, but fighting continues.

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The Central African Republic has reported some 10,000 children still fighting alongside armed groups in the country. (Fox News Digital)

The U.N. is trying to prevent children from joining armed groups and make it easier for those released to reintegrate into society. It has created training programs for them to become mechanics, masons, carpenters or take up other professions.

Some former child soldiers told The Associated Press that their harrowing experiences had pushed them to become peace ambassadors.

“I took up arms because Seleka killed by mother and father,” said Arsene, who insisted on only his first name due to the sensitivity of the situation. He said a Christian rebel group recruited him when he was 14. After three years of fighting, he now tells young people not to join rebel groups.

Ousmane, another former child soldier, said that joining the rebels ruined his life and that of those around him. “What we did is indescribable,” he said.

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The Dany Ngarasso Foundation, a local civil society group, called on the government to accelerate the peace process to protect child soldiers.

“They may have fought yesterday, but they can still campaign for peace today,” foundation head Ngarasso said.

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US Man Gets Prison for Tokyo Olympics Doping Charge

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US Man Gets Prison for Tokyo Olympics Doping Charge
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Texas man who pleaded guilty to involvement in providing banned performance-enhancing drugs to athletes before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was sentenced on Wednesday to three months in prison, U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan said. Eric Lira, 44, of El …
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US conducts four 'self-defense strikes' against Houthi weapons preparing to launch: CENTCOM

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US conducts four 'self-defense strikes' against Houthi weapons preparing to launch: CENTCOM

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The U.S. military conducted “self-defense strikes” against Houthi missiles and a launcher prepared to fire from Yemen toward the Red Sea on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command announced.

Between 12 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. local time on Wednesday, four self-defense strikes were launched in response to seven mobile Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles and one mobile anti-ship ballistic missile launcher aimed at the Red Sea, the agency said.

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Also, in an act of self-defense, CENTCOM said its forces shot down a one-way attack unmanned aircraft system.

US CARRIES OUT ‘SELF-DEFENSE’ STRIKE AGAINST HOUTHI ANTI-SHIP MISSILE: CENTCOM

U.S. Central Command announced more “self-defense strikes” against Houthi terrorists in Yemen after American forces located missiles and a launcher prepared to fire toward the Red Sea. (Mass Communications Spc. 2nd Class Moises Sandoval/U.S. Navy via AP)

The missiles, launchers and the unmanned aircraft system were all determined to have originated from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

CENTCOM said they “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region” and were destroyed.

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HOUTHIS DEMAND US, UK AID WORKERS LEAVE YEMEN WITHIN 30 DAYS FOLLOWING 2ND COALITION STRIKE

“These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM concluded.

CENTCOM and the State Department have been adamant in recent days about condemning Houthi aggression in the Red Sea toward military and civilian ships.

Model of Houthi missile

A model of a Houthi missile is carried during a protest in Sanaa, Yemen, against the war in Gaza and U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Houthis on Feb. 16. (Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Prior to Wednesday’s self-defense strikes, U.S. and coalition forces have shot down 11 one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles, one anti-ship cruise missile, and one surface-to-air missile launcher located in Houthi-controlled Yemen since Feb. 19, according to CENTCOM announcements.

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Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.

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Three people killed in shooting near Jerusalem

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Three people killed in shooting near Jerusalem

Israeli police say officers shoot two of the gunmen, and a third tries to escape but is found and arrested

At least three people have been killed and eight wounded when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at motorists near an Israeli checkpoint near occupied East Jerusalem.

The head of Israel’s ambulance service, Eli Bean, told the public broadcaster Kan that two women were seriously wounded on Thursday.

Israeli police said the attackers took advantage of slow morning traffic on the central highway east of Jerusalem near the Maale Adumim settlement in the occupied West Bank and opened fire with automatic weapons at cars waiting near a checkpoint.

A spokesperson said the gunmen were Palestinians but gave no further details.

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Israeli police said two gunmen were killed and a third was arrested.

In response to the attack, far-right Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir said freedom of movement for Palestinians should be restricted.

“Our right to life overrides the Palestinians’ freedom of movement,” the official said, according to Israeli media reports.

“I will fight for barriers around the villages that will limit the freedom of movement of the residents of the Palestinian Authority.”

Tensions in the occupied West Bank have been exacerbated since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7 following a Hamas attack that killed 1,139 people, according to Israeli figures.

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Israel’s retaliation on Gaza for the attack has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians and wounded close to 70,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has reduced much of the enclave to rubble.

Reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Willem Marx said the attack is an “indication of the frustration that many people inside the occupied West Bank and those facing challenges around access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque are feeling at this very, very fraught time”.

“This is something that reflects a period in history, decades ago, when these kinds of attacks were incredibly frequent in and around Jerusalem,” Marx said, adding that there have been “several similar incidents” recently in the West Bank and around illegal settlements.

The shooting “so close to Jerusalem at a busy time in the morning next to a major checkpoint where there’d be a huge security presence is an indication of that frustration”, Marx reported.

Last week, two people were killed by gunmen who police suspect to be Palestinians at a bus stop in southern Israel.

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