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21 bodies found after pastor told members to ‘starve to meet Jesus’

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Twenty-one bodies have been dug out of their graves by Kenyan police in Malindi, a coastal town in the southeastern part of the country.

According to the BBC, 15 members of the Good News International Church were rescued from shallow graves in the Shakahola forest.

Kenya Broadcasting Station (KBC) said that 58 graves have so far been identified, adding that dead children are among those that have been exhumed.

Meanwhile, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the founder of the church, also known as the “cult leader”, though in police custody, has denied any wrongdoing.

Nthenge was arrested on April 15 after four bodies suspected of having starved themselves to death were discovered by the police.

The preacher was said to have instructed his congregation to starve themselves in order to “meet Jesus”.

“In one grave, investigators found the bodies of three children with their father on one side and their mother on the other side. Another grave contained the bodies of a woman and a girl, both facing each other. All appeared to have died in recent weeks,” a police source told AFP news agency.

“Police have identified at least 58 suspected graves on the grounds of the Good News International Church, raising fears that the death toll will rise significantly. One Kenyan media outlet reported that more than 100 people may have been buried in the graves.

“We have not even scratched the surface which gives a clear indication that we are likely to get more bodies by the end of this exercise.”

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels target ship in Gulf of Aden; US aircraft carrier ordered home

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Yemen's Houthi rebels target ship in Gulf of Aden; US aircraft carrier ordered home

An attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted a commercial ship traveling through the Gulf of Aden but apparently caused no damage, authorities said Saturday, in the latest strike on the shipping lane by the group.

The Houthi attack comes after the sinking this week of the ship Tutor, which marked what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign of strikes on ships in the vital maritime corridor over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the aircraft carrier leading America’s response to the Houthi attacks, to return home after a twice-extended tour.

The captain of the ship targeted late Friday saw “explosions in the vicinity of the vessel,” the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said. A later briefing by the U.S.-overseen Joint Maritime Information Center said the vessel initially reported two explosions off its port side and a third one later.

“The vessel was not hit and sustained no damage,” the center said. “The vessel and crew are reported to be safe and are proceeding to their next port of call.”

The Houthis, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, claimed the attack Saturday night. Brigadier General Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, identified the vessel targeted as the bulk carrier Transworld Navigator.

The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They have seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carrying fertilizer became the first to sink in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.

The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Naval Institute’s news service reported, citing an anonymous official, that the Eisenhower would be returning home to Norfolk, Virginia, after an over eight-month deployment in combat that the Navy says is its most intense since World War II. The report said an aircraft carrier operating in the Pacific would be taking the Eisenhower’s place.

Two U.S. officials, later speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss ship movements, confirmed the Eisenhower had been ordered home and already had reached the Mediterranean Sea.

Flight-tracking data analyzed by the AP showed a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter associated with the Eisenhower flying above the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Port Said, Egypt, on Saturday night.

The closest American aircraft carrier known to be operating in Asia is the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Roosevelt anchored Saturday in Busan, South Korea, amid Seoul’s ongoing tensions with North Korea. The U.S. officials said the Roosevelt would replace the Eisenhower.

The Eisenhower had repeatedly been targeted by false attack claims by the Houthis during its time in the Red Sea. Saree on Saturday night claimed another attack on the carrier — but again provided no evidence to support it as the ship already had left the area.

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Israel, Lebanon’s Hezbollah on potential ‘knife edge of conflict’

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Israel, Lebanon’s Hezbollah on potential ‘knife edge of conflict’

Fears are growing of the Gaza conflict widening to engulf Israel and its northern foe, the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia, after both sides claimed this week to be ready to go to war following an intensification of their cross-border attacks.

Israel’s military said it has approved plans for an attack in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has threatened to carry out a war with “no red lines,” although it said it would halt attacks if the Gaza war stopped.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.K., Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Al Saud, warned this week that failure to end the Gaza war and the broader Israel-Palestinian conflict would risk serious escalation not easily contained.

“At some stage we will hit a point where the conflict will spread, and it will become regional,” he said at London’s Chatham House.

“It’s very important for everyone to recognize the danger that lies ahead,” he said. “A regional conflict will not remain regional; it will become international very quickly. The reality is that if it continues along the path that it is going, [it] is much worse than what is happening on the ground today or any scenario from what will come from a deal.”

U.S. President Joe Biden’s envoy, Amos Hochstein, has tried to defuse tensions, warning that a “miscalculation, accident or errant missile” could cause the situation to spiral out of control.

Analyst Nicholas Heras of the Washington-based New Lines Institute told VOA that Israel and Hezbollah are currently “on a knife’s edge of conflict,” which could lead to an all-out war.

“Israel’s objective is to eliminate Hamas control from Gaza and to force Hezbollah off of the Israeli border north of the Litani River in Lebanon,” Heras said. “Hezbollah’s goal, which is set by Iran, is to continue to apply increasing military pressure on Israel until the conflict in Gaza ends.”

Hussein Ibish, an analyst with Washington’s Arab Gulf States Institute, told the France24 satellite TV channel that “neither Hezbollah nor Iran want a war under current circumstances.”

“The purpose of Hezbollah in the Iranian alliance is to be a deterrent against and a strategic response to an Israeli or American assault on the Iranian homeland, specifically on their nuclear facilities,” Ibish said.

Still, should a war ignite between Israel and Hezbollah, Heras told VOA that there would be widespread ramifications.

“If there is a war between Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, in Israel, it would draw the United States in that war because the United States is so committed in terms of military assets to Israel’s defense,” he said. “And Iran is so committed to Hezbollah’s defense because Hezbollah represents for Iran a key means to apply strategic pressure on Israel.”

Heras predicts that the entire region would be drawn in and “that type of war could have shattering effects on global society.”

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Deadly strikes hit northern Gaza while an Israeli man is found dead in the West Bank, army says

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Deadly strikes hit northern Gaza while an Israeli man is found dead in the West Bank, army says

 At least 39 people were killed by Israeli strikes across northern Gaza on Saturday, as rescue workers scrambled to find survivors beneath the rubble, according to Palestinian and hospital officials.

Fadel Naem, director of the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, told The Associated Press that more than three dozen bodies arrived at the hospital. The Palestinian Civil Defense, an emergency group active in Gaza, said its emergency workers were digging for survivors at the site of a strike in the Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City and that it had pulled several dozen bodies from a building hit by an Israeli strike in an eastern neighborhood of Gaza City.

Israel said Saturday that its fighter jets struck two Hamas military sites in the Gaza City area but did not elaborate further.

The deaths come a day after at least 25 people were killed in strikes on tent camps and 50 wounded near the southern city of Rafah. Israel said Saturday that it was continuing to operate in central and southern Gaza and has pushed ahead with its invasion of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. Most have now fled the city, but the United Nations says no place in Gaza is safe and humanitarian conditions are dire as families shelter in tents and cramped apartments without adequate food, water or medical supplies.

A separate Israeli strike Saturday in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley killed a member of the military wing of al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, a Sunni Muslim faction closely allied with Hamas, according to the group. The member was the seventh killed by Israeli strikes in Lebanon since the war began.

The Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. when Hamas militants who stormed southern Israel killed about 1,200 people and took some 250 others hostage. Israel has responded by bombarding and invading the enclave, killing more than 37, 400 Palestinians there according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Also Saturday, Israel’s army said an Israeli man was fatally shot in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya, where Israeli forces fatally shot two militants Friday, the latest flare of violence in the territory since the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

At least 549 Palestinians in the territory have been killed by Israeli fire since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which tracks the killings. Over the same period, Palestinians in the West Bank have killed at least nine Israelis, including five soldiers, according to U.N. data.

Israeli nationals are prohibited from entering Qalqilya and other areas of the West Bank that fall under the under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

In April, the death of a 14-year-old Israeli settler sparked a series of settler attacks on Palestinian towns in the territory. The army said a Palestinian was later arrested in connection with the killing.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 12-year-old Palestinian boy died from his wounds after being shot by Israeli forces in Ramallah last week. Commenting on the shooting, the Israeli army said its forces raided al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah to arrest a suspect Friday and then opened fire on a group of Palestinians who were pelting them with stones.

Israel said Saturday that it was investigating a separate incident into conduct of its soldiers after a video surfaced online showing an injured Palestinian being transported on the hood of an Israeli armored car in the northern West Bank. The army said the man in the video was a wanted suspect and injured during an exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces near the city of Jenin. The man was being transported to a Red Crescent ambulance situated nearby, it said. The army said the conduct in the video didn’t “conform to the values” of the army.

Anger across the country is growing at the government’s handling of the war in Gaza and the hostage crisis.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv calling for new elections and for the government to bring the hostages home. Among the families were the parents of Naama Levy, an Israeli soldier who marked her 20th birthday in captivity.

Jeffery reported from Ramallah and Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Melanie Lidman in Tel Aviv contributed to this report.

 

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Three dead in Kharkiv attack, Russia launches new barrage of missiles on Ukrainian energy facilities

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Three dead in Kharkiv attack, Russia launches new barrage of missiles on Ukrainian energy facilities

At least three people were killed in a Russian bomb attack on Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, on Saturday afternoon, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Another 19 people were wounded in the attack, in which a guided aerial bomb hit a residential building, according to Zelenskyy.

Russia has also continued to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russia launched a new barrage of missiles and drones in an overnight attack on Ukraine, officials in Kyiv said Saturday, damaging energy facilities in the southeast and west and injuring at least two workers.

Ukraine is struggling with a new wave of rolling blackouts after relentless Russian attacks on energy infrastructure that started three months ago took out half the country’s power generation capacity. In its eighth major attack on energy facilities overnight, Russia fired 16 missiles and 13 Shahed drones, the Ukrainian air force said.

Ukraine’s air defenses intercepted 12 of the 16 missiles and all 13 drones launched by Russia, the air force said.

State-owned power grid operator Ukrenergo said the strikes damaged equipment at facilities in southeastern Zaporizhzhia and the western Lviv region.

Two energy workers were injured in Zaporizhzhia when a fire broke out at an energy facility, according to regional Gov. Ivan Fedorov.

 

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China issues guidelines introducing severe criminal penalties for supporting ‘Taiwan independence’

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China issues guidelines introducing severe criminal penalties for supporting

China introduced on Friday the death penalty for “particularly serious” cases involving supporters of Taiwanese independence. The new judicial guidelines outline severe punishments for activities deemed as fragmenting the country or inciting secession.

The new standards, titled “Opinions on Punishing the Crimes of Splitting the Country and Inciting Splitting the Country by ‘Taiwan Independence’ Diehards,” were jointly issued by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. The document sets forth a legal framework with the goal of combatting separatist activities by proponents of Taiwan’s independence.

The guidelines categorize and outline specific actions that constitute crimes of secession and incitement to secession, including:

Initiating or establishing organizations, plans, or programs aimed at promoting Taiwanese independence.
Attempting to alter Taiwan’s status through legislative means or referendums.
Seeking international recognition of Taiwan as an independent entity.
Using one’s job or influence, such as in government, education, or media, to misrepresent or falsify the history of Taiwan’s status as part of China.
Consistently taking part in or playing a major role in activities that support Taiwanese independence.
The new standards stipulate severe punishments for those identified as leaders or significant participants in secessionist activities and classify actions causing “significant harm to the state and its people” as serious offenses that may result in the death penalty. Other punishments range from life imprisonment to fixed-term imprisonment, similarly depending on the severity and role in the activities.

In response to the new guidelines, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement emphasizing the independence and democratic freedoms enjoyed by Taiwan’s citizens. The council asserted that Beijing has no jurisdiction over Taiwan and that the new laws are not binding on the people of Taiwan. Furthermore, the council criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s actions as detrimental to cross-strait relations.

The guidelines officially came into force on the date of their release, just three days after the sighting of a Chinese submarine surfacing near Taiwan. National Defense Minister of Taiwan Wellington Koo stated on Tuesday that the Taiwanese government was vigilantly monitoring the situation.

 

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US Supreme court upholds law barring domestic abusers from owning guns

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US Supreme court upholds law barring domestic abusers from owning

The United States Supreme Court yesterday, upheld a federal law that bars guns for domestic abusers, rejecting an argument pressed by gun rights groups that the prohibition violated the Second Amendment.

The 8-1 decision in one of the court’s most closely watched cases limited the scope of a blockbuster ruling the justices handed down just two years ago that prompted a flood of legal challenges to other gun laws across the nation, CNN reported.

The decision, which placed most of the court’s conservatives and liberals on the same side, could help shore up similar federal gun regulations that have been challenged since the Supreme Court vastly expanded gun rights in 2022, at least in situations where a criminal defendant is considered dangerous. That court’s 2022 ruling caused substantial confusion for lower court judges reviewing Second Amendment lawsuits.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the court had “no trouble” coalescing around the idea that an individual who poses a threat can be denied access to weapons.

“Our tradition of firearm regulation allows the government to disarm individuals who present a credible threat to the physical safety of others,” Roberts wrote.
The chief justice pushed back on the idea that its decision two years ago in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen had hemmed locked lower courts into striking down any gun law that didn’t have a direct historic analogue. Roberts said that some lower courts had “misunderstood the methodology of our recent Second Amendment cases.”

“The court’s ruling today leaves intact a specific federal criminal prohibition on gun possession by those subject to domestic violence-related restraining orders,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

“But there are dozens of other federal and state gun regulations that have been challenged since the court’s 2022 ruling in the Bruen case. The harder cases, like whether Congress can prohibit all felons, or all drug offenders, from possessing firearms, are still to come.”

Several of those cases are already pending at the Supreme Court and could be granted in coming days.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in Bruen, authored a lone dissent on Friday.

“The court and government do not point to a single historical law revoking a citizen’s Second Amendment right based on possible interpersonal violence,” Thomas wrote. “Yet, in the interest of ensuring the Government can regulate one subset of society, today’s decision puts at risk the Second Amendment rights of many more.”

Source: This day

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