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Suspects in Haitian assassination nabbed inside Taiwan’s Embassy



Members of the Haitian police and forensics look for evidence outside of the presidential residence (AFP via Getty Images)

Police probing the assassination of Haiti’s president have nabbed suspects from inside the premises of Taiwan’s Embassy in the Caribbean country.

An embassy statement said Haitian police on Thursday “entered the Embassy to pursue the suspects.”

“The police launched an operation around 4 pm [2000GMT] and successfully arrested 11 suspects. The process went smoothly,” said the embassy.

Taiwan, which China considers a “breakaway province,” has full diplomatic relations with at least 15 countries, including Haiti.

President Jovenel Moise was killed Wednesday in an armed attack at his private residence in the capital Port-au-Prince by a group of gunmen who authorities say spoke Spanish and English.

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Haiti’s first lady, Martine Moise, who was wounded in the attack, was taken to a hospital in Miami, Florida, where she is being treated.

Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou in Taipei told daily Taiwan News: “The embassy team discovered a band of armed men had breached the facility’s security perimeter.”

“The men had managed to make their way past the security guard station and entered the embassy’s courtyard. Upon discovering the breach, security personnel immediately notified Haitian police,” he added. The embassy premises were closed.

The embassy called the assassination “cruel and barbaric.”

Haitian police had already arrested 17 suspects over the assassination, including two Haitian Americans and 15 Colombians.

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The group of men that killed Moise was made up of two Americans and 26 Colombians, the nation’s police chief said Thursday.

Authorities have launched an investigation into how the suspects arrived in the country, but it is possible that they entered through the long border with the Dominican Republic.

The assassination has plunged the country into a leadership crisis. Moise, 53, took office in 2017 after a contested election. After he failed to hold legislative elections, the opposition had demanded he step down.

Only a day before his death, Moise had appointed a new prime minister, who was due to take office this week. Haiti is scheduled to hold presidential and legislative elections on Sept. 26.

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Biafra: Economic activities shutdown again in eastern Nigeria



No civilian deaths are confirmed in the civil protest which aims to cripple the Nigerian economy.

Economic activities were shutdown on Tuesday in Nigeria’s eastern region as separatists commemorate the victims of the 2017 military raid on the home of its leader Nnamdi Kanu.

At least 28 civilians were killed on September 14, 2017 when Nigerian forces raided Umuahia Palace in an attempt to assassinate the Biafra pro-independence leader after a high court granted him bail.

Markets were closed on Tuesday as traders lock their shops in accordance with a directive issued by the separatist group— Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).

Restriction of vehicle movements led to violence in places like Enugu State, where suspected members of the separatist group set vehicles on fire and destroyed tricycles, violating the order.

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No civilian deaths are confirmed in the civil protest which aims to cripple the Nigerian economy.

Mr. Kanu, the leader of the separatist group who faces charges of treason and other baseless crimes for calling for a referendum on an independent state known as Biafra, is still in captivity after being seized in Kenya in July and illegally repatriated to Nigeria.

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Israel unveils remote-controlled armed robot to patrol battle zones




AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner. Israel Aerospace Industries' semi-autonomous four-wheel-drive 'REX MKII' is seen at an IAI facility near the central Israeli city of Lod, September 9, 2021

REX MKII unmanned vehicle to be deployed alongside ground troops to assist in combat situations

Israel’s state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Monday unveiled a remote-controlled armed robot for the purpose of keeping troops out of harm’s way during ground missions.

The “REX MKII” unmanned vehicle has the capabilities to patrol battle zones, assist in evacuation efforts, track infiltrators and execute remote attacks against threats, according to IAI.

The semi-autonomous machine was unveiled at DSEI 2021 in London, which claims to be the world’s largest gathering of the defense and security community.

Rani Avni, deputy head of the company’s autonomous systems division, said that the robot is operated by an electronic tablet and can be equipped with two machine guns, cameras and sensors.

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The robot is reportedly the most advanced so far developed by IAI subsidiary ELTA Systems over the past 15 years.

“The need to support ground forces in the field to carry out various missions while minimizing threats to soldiers’ lives is at the heart of our values here at Israel Aerospace Industries,” Zvika Yarom, general manager of IAI’s Land Division, said.

The Israeli military is currently using a similar but smaller unmanned platform called the “Jaguar” to patrol the border with the Gaza Strip.


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Catalan separatists hit streets ahead of Madrid talks




Thousands of Catalan pro-independence supporters answered the call to march under their "Estelada" flags to mark the "Diada", the region's national day (AFP/Josep LAGO)

Thousands of Catalan separatists thronged the streets of Barcelona on Saturday in a test of their strength ahead of fresh negotiations with Spain’s government.

The protest coincides with Catalonia’s national day, or “Diada”, which commemorates the 1714 fall of Barcelona in the War of the Spanish Succession and the region’s subsequent loss of institutions.

As in other years, the march began at 17:14 (1514 GMT) — a nod to the year 1714. The slogan this year is: “We will fight for independence and win.”

At its peak in 2014, the annual demonstration brought an estimated 1.8 million people onto the streets. Though there were no provisional figures by early evening on Saturday’s attendance, thousands answered the call to gather and show their support for the cause as the afternoon drew on.

While Catalonia was the epicentre in July of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, the situation has since improved and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people was recently lifted.

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Jordi Cuixart, the leader of grassroots separatist movement Omnium Cultural, said he hoped to “bring hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets” this year to “prove once again that our movement is more alive than ever”.

But much has changed since the frenetic autumn of 2017 when Catalonia’s bid to break away from Spain triggered the country’s worst political crisis in decades going back to the end of the Franco dictatorship.

Leaders of the wealthy northeastern region, which has a population of 7.8 million, defied a government ban to organise a secession referendum and then issued a short-lived declaration of independence.

Those behind the move were arrested, tried and sentenced to long jail terms by Spain’s top court, while others fled abroad to avoid prosecution, leaving the movement sharply at odds over how to move forward.

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The Spanish government’s pardon in June of nine Catalan separatist leaders, including Cuixart, has also removed a rallying cry for the pro-independence camp.

Only 600,000 people turned out for the Diada in 2019. Last year, coronavirus-related health restrictions reduced the celebrations to separate events which drew fewer than 60,000 people.

Some, including 70-year-old pensioner Narcis Vilar, say some pro-independence supporters feel a certain loss of faith in some of their leaders.

His friends, he told AFP, “have not stopped being independents but they are fed up with the politicians”, while he conceded the pandemic — which has hit the region hard — was another factor cooling passion for the cause.

This year’s protest comes as top-level talks on resolving the Catalan crisis are set to resume next week between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s minority government and the separatist regional government of Catalonia.

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Sanchez tweeted Saturday that he wanted “to advance towards what unites us” and work for a positive outcome for the region.

The separatists have two key demands — an amnesty for those involved in the failed independence bid, which would exonerate those who fled abroad, and a referendum on self-determination, this time with Spain’s approval.

But Madrid is implacably opposed to both.

Mireia Nieto, a 21-year-old student demonstrating Saturday, declared herself “totally opposed to this dialogue” in putting the hardline pro-independence case.

Tensions rose sharply this week after Spain’s central government suspended plans to expand Barcelona airport, citing a “lack of confidence” in Catalonia’s regional leadership.

Catalonia’s regional leader Pere Aragones denounced the suspension as “blackmail”.

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