Wednesday 21 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/17/18)
Morocco has acquitted a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, held without charge by the US military for over 13 years, of "undermining state security", his lawyer said Friday. Yunis Chekkouri was arrested by Pakistani forces in late December 2001 with a group of several dozen alleged fighters who had fled the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan, a stronghold of the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies. The following year he was flown to the Guantanamo Bay military prison, where he was locked up for over 13 years but never charged. In September 2015, Chekkouri was released and sent back home...
(AFP (eng) 02/15/18)
A Moroccan man was arrested in Paris Wednesday on suspicion of helping a jihadist who staged an attack on a high-speed train in 2015, a source close to the inquiry told AFP. The source said the 36-year-old was suspected of providing "logistical help" to Ayoub El Khazzani who opened fire with an AK-47 on a Paris-bound train from Amsterdam carrying more than 500 passengers. Two people were wounded before the gunman was overpowered by three Americans on holiday in Europe, two of them off-duty servicemen. Their quick action prevented what could have been a bloodbath. The suspect, who lives in Spain, was arrested at a bus station in Paris as part of a joint French French-Spanish investigation, with a statement...
(AFP (eng) 02/14/18)
Couscous may be the signature dish of North Africa, but steaming plates of the stew-topped semolina are also served up in West Africa and around the Mediterranean. Since 1998 the Italian island of Sicily has been the unlikely host of the couscous-making world championship known as Cous Cous Fest, which bills itself as a "festival of cultural integration". Each September chefs convene on Sicily, whose Mediterranean location opposite Tunisia has made it a cultural crossroads throughout history, battling to be crowned couscous king or queen. Palestinian chefs George Suheil Srour and Elias Bassous won the competition last year, with a couscous topped with grilled sea bream...
(AFP (eng) 02/12/18)
Moroccan authorities said Sunday they had seized nearly 541 kilos (1,200 pounds) of cocaine in a container from Latin America which arrived in Casablanca. Six people including a Brazilian suspected of being the "mastermind of a criminal network" were arrested, according to the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ). It also seized five vehicles and "large sums of money" in Moroccan dirhams and other currencies. In a statement, the BCIJ said it was investigating a "dangerous" criminal network linked to...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Morocco's prime minister on Wednesday swigged a glass of water from a reservoir supplying some seven million people in a bid to dispel fears over pollution. Saad-Eddine El Othmani staged the publicity stunt in front of flashing cameras after environmental groups said it was being tainted by waste from two nearby prisons. "This water is drinkable," he told journalists as he sipped a glass from the Sidi Mohamed Benabdallah reservoir on the coast between capital Rabat and Casablanca. "You are...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Moroccan rescue services have recovered the bodies of 16 migrants off the coast of Spain's enclave of Melilla, Moroccan and Spanish officials said Sunday. Three women were among the dead taken to a morgue in the Moroccan city of Nador, a medical official there told AFP. All were sub-Saharan Africans apart from one Moroccan, the official said. A spokeswoman for Melilla's authorities earlier said "about 20" bodies had been recovered in Moroccan territorial waters. The bodies of the migrants were spotted Saturday by a Spanish ship, which alerted the rescue services of both countries, she said.
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
A Moroccan court sentenced to jail a journalist for his coverage of unrest in the country's north, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said, calling for his release. Abdelkabir al-Horr was convicted on charges of backing "terrorism, inciting others to hold a banned protest in the northern Rif region and insulting" authorities, RSF said in its statement on Friday. It said Horr, founder of the Rassdmaroc news website, was sentenced to four years in jail on Thursday. RSF expressed "deep...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Thousands of people staged a protest Friday in an impoverished Moroccan city over the latest fatality in the region's "mines of death", the third such victim since December, witnesses said. The protest was staged outside the morgue of the hospital in the northeastern town of Jerada, where security forces were deployed to keep order in the wake of Thursday's deadly accident. Shops stayed shuttered as the crowd accompanied the body of the latest "martyr" of the area's abandoned coal pits,...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Megastar Rihanna vowed she would "never stop fighting" to get millions of children back in school on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a major boost in foreign aid for education in developing nations. Macron co-hosted a conference in Dakar organised by the Global Partnership for Education with Senegalese President Macky Sall, while Rihanna attended as the organisation's global ambassador. "We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done, we have a long way...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world's poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal. The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron,...
(AFP (eng) 02/01/18)
Another miner died Thursday in an impoverished Moroccan city shaken by protests over the plight of people scraping a living in abandoned coal pits known as the "mines of death". A second person was seriously injured in the accident in a disused coal mine in the northeastern city of Jerada, a local activist told AFP. The authorities confirmed that a man had died in an abandoned mine in the city. Each day hundreds of people risk their lives to extract...
(AFP (eng) 02/01/18)
France's national rail operator on Wednesday lost its appeal against a finding that it discriminated against hundreds of Moroccan workers arriving in the post-colonial era, damaging their careers. A court had in 2015 ordered rail company SNCF to pay more than 170 million euros ($212 million) in damages to more than 800 former staff, most of whom arrived in the 1970s from a newly independent Morocco. The SNCF sought to overturn the decision, but the main appeals court in Paris...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
The oldest remains of a modern human outside Africa have been dug up in Israel, offering evidence of what genetic studies have already suggested -- that humans migrated out of Africa some 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. Facial fragments, including a jawbone and several teeth, were found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel. The bones date to between 174,000 and 188,000 years old, said the report in...
(AFP (eng) 01/25/18)
Hundreds protested on Thursday outside a Moroccan court in support of four journalists being tried for publishing content deemed confidential. The journalists stand accused of publishing in late 2016 excerpts of a parliamentary commission's debates over huge deficit at the national pension fund. A member of the Democratic Labour Confederation (CDT) is also being prosecuted for providing information on these debates. "Freedom of expression is a red line," journalists and activists chanted outside the courthouse in the capital Rabat. Thursday's hearing was adjourned to March 8 as one of the journalists did not appear for trial. "This trial is quite unique. We're being prosecuted for publishing accurate information," defendant Abdelhak Belachgar said.
(AFP (eng) 01/23/18)
One man died and several other people were injured during a stampede Monday on the border between Morocco and the Spanish overseas territory of Melilla, authorities and a rights group said. At least three were injured on the Spanish side, including a man who was hospitalised in "a very serious condition" and later died, authorities in Melilla said. A spokeswoman for the central government's representative office in Melilla said the man, a Moroccan, died of "cardiac arrest". Morocco's interior ministry...
(AFP (eng) 01/23/18)
Authorities in Morocco said Monday they doubt the authenticity of an alleged dinosaur tail sold in Mexico, after launching a probe to see if it had been illegally exported from the North African country. The purported four-metre-long (13-foot) fragment of an "Atlasaurus tail from the Jurassic period" was sold on Tuesday for 1.8 million pesos (78,000 euros, $96,000), according to Mexican auctions website Morton. But Morocco's mines ministry said preliminary investigations showed the supposed dinosaur tail was likely "restored from an assembly of vertebrae found isolated, not emanating from the same species."
(AFP (eng) 01/22/18)
Several people were injured, at least one seriously, during a stampede Monday on the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, authorities and a rights group said. At least three were injured on the Spanish side, including a man who was hospitalised in "a very serious condition", Melilla police said. The Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) said 11 people were injured on the Moroccan side. The stampede took place at the Barrio Chino border post, which is reserved for pedestrians who carry merchandise across the border on foot, said Omar Naji, an AMDH official based in nearby Nador.
(Reuters (Eng) 01/22/18)
KLEINARL, Austria (Reuters) - The chilly conditions on an Austrian mountainside belied the warm reception given to people from 15 African countries who took part in an annual luge race aimed at helping migrants integrate into European society. The event over the weekend, dubbed the African Winter Sports Cup, is a luge race contested by people with little or no experience of winter sports. Its aim, over the six years it has been held, is to promote social integration through...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
There's nothing covert about Roxy -- a huge market in Abidjan selling counterfeit medicine, the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world's poorest continent. Located in the bustling Adjame quarter of Ivory Coast's main city and commercial hub, the haven for fake medicine has been targeted time and again by authorities and stockpiles burnt. But it resurfaces every time. "The police hassle us but they themselves buy these medicines," said Mariam, one of...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Morocco on Saturday said it has started the third and final operation to repatriate its nationals stranded in Libya, a stepping stone to illegal migration to Europe. The ministry of expatriates and migration said the operation was launched on Friday and aimed at bringing home 338 Moroccan migrants stuck in Libya. The migrants were to be flown to Casablanca on the Libyan airline Afriqiyah and then transported by bus to their home towns, the ministry said in a statement. It did not say when the operation was expected to be concluded. Since the 2011 fall and killing of its longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi...

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