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4 children among 9 civilians dead in US Syria strike

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A U.S. missile strike targeting an airbase in central Syria killed nine civilians, including four children, Friday, state news agency SANA reported.

The news agency said five of the civilians, among them three children, were killed in the village of Shayrat just outside the base of the same name.

“An American missile also hit the village of Al-Hamrat, which killed four civilians including a child,” it added.

“Another seven civilians were wounded when a missile hit homes in Al-Manzul, four kilometers (two and a half miles) away from the Shayrat air base,” it added.

Washington said it fired a barrage of 59 cruise missiles at the Shayrat base in response to what President Donald Trump called a “barbaric” chemical attack on a rebel-held town Tuesday that he blamed on the Damascus regime.

The Pentagon said it believed the aircraft that carried out the deadly attack on Khan Sheikhun came from the Shayrat base.

U.S. officials said Russian commanders in Syria were informed of the strike beforehand in order to avoid casualties that could prompt a broader crisis.

The Syrian army had said earlier that six people were killed in the strike on the base — the first time that the U.S. has directly attacked the government of President Bashar Assad.

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South Korea court sentences ex-president Park 8 more years in jail

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A South Korean court sentenced former President Park Geun-hye to eight more years in prison on Friday after finding her guilty on charges of causing loss of funds from the state spy agency and interfering in 2016 parliamentary elections.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Park, who already received a 24-year jail term over separate corruption charges, colluded with her former aides to cause the loss of government funds worth 3.3bn won ($2.91m) from the National Intelligence Service.



“The accused received some three billion won over three years from the three NIS chiefs. Through this crime, the accused incurred a considerable amount of loss to the state treasury,” said senior judge Seong Chang-ho at the Seoul Central District Court.

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Three former NIS chiefs testified they had funnelled the funds to Park on her orders, the court said.

The judge rebuked Park, who denied the charges, for being “uncooperative” throughout the court hearing and questioning by prosecutors.

She was also found guilty of interfering in the then-ruling Saenuri Party’s selection of candidates for the parliamentary election.

Prosecutors had earlier demanded a 15-year sentence for Park. 

Park, 66, has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court. She was found guilty by a lower court in April of separate charges including bribery, abuse of power and coercion. She was also fined $16m. 

She now faces a total of 32 years in prison. 

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Impeached and removed from office

In December 2016, South Korean legislators overwhelmingly voted to impeach Park but she refused to resign, offering instead an apology while denying any legal wrongdoing.

Three months later, the eight-member Constitutional Court voted unanimously to remove her from office.

She was charged and arrested soon after her dismissal from office in 2017. 

She is the daughter of another former president, Park Chung-hee, who seized power in 1961 and was assassinated eight years later.

Park could potentially get an even longer jail time depending on the rulings of the appeals courts.

Following the earlier ruling in April, prosecutors appealed Park’s 24-year term on charges including bribery and abuse of state power and are now demanding 30 years in prison.

The Seoul High Court will rule on the case on August 24.

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Nigeria: Boko Haram leader exposes rest Chibok girls whereabouts

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One of the arrested Boko Haram leaders and kidnappers of the Chibok schoolgirls, Mallam Mayinta Modu, alias Abor has revealed that each of them received N60,000 as ransom before they freed one batch of the abducted girls.

 Modu, who hails from Bama Local Government Area, Borno State had confessed to being one of the Boko Haram Commanders that coordinated and led the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, including several attacks on Bama, Gwoza and Mubi towns in Borno and Adamawa states.

This was following the arrest of 22 suspected Boko Haram members who participated in the kidnapping of the girls.

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 They were paraded at the Borno Police Command, Wednesday, by Deputy Commissioner-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris.Modu revealed that one Mallam Chingori, is in custody of the remaining Chibok girls at Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.

Upon interrogation, he said: “I cannot ascertain the number of people I slaughtered or killed before my arrest. All I can say is that as a member of the sect and with the roles I played in the course of our fighting against infidels, government and security agencies, I was promoted as one of the sub-commanders.

“I actively participated and coordinated the kidnapping of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April, 2014.

“After we abducted the girls, we separated them and put them in different locations in Sambisa Forest under the care of our top commanders.

“The name of my top Commander is Mallam Chingori. He kept some of the girls in his custody in Sambisa hideout before relocating to Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.

“At a point, when we released some of the girls, we were given N60,000 each for escorting the girls to one undisclosed location, before we went back to base, Sambisa.

“I may not know whether our Commander who gave us the ransom money also took his share of the money; all I can say is that we were many that collected such amount.

“As it is, the remaining girls are in the custody of our top Commander (Chingori) who later relocated from Sambisa to Gulumba village of Bama town.”

Modu could, however, not state who paid the ransom, but admitted that some of the girls were still in the custody of the sect in different locations in the forest.

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