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The chief prosecutor of Libya’s eastern government has said he will prosecute those responsible for the neglect of two dams in Derna as the city struggles to cope with the thousands of corpses washing up or decaying under rubble.

It comes as the World Health Organisation and other aid agencies urged Libyan authorities to stop burying victims of last Sunday’s flooding in mass graves.

The organisation said such burials could bring long-term mental distress to families or cause health risks if located near the water.

According to a UN report, more than 1,000 people have been buried in mass graves since Libya, a nation divided by a decade of conflict and political chaos, was hit on Sunday by torrential rain that caused two dams to burst.

According to the Libyan Red Crescent, there were 11,300 flooding deaths in Derna as of Thursday.

Another 10,100 people were reported missing, though there was little hope many of them would be found alive, the aid group said.

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Libya: ‘Residents weren’t warned’

Desperate search for survivors continues – latest updates

Bodies “are littering the streets, washing back up on shore and buried under collapsed buildings and debris,” said Bilal Sablouh, regional forensics manager for Africa at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“In just two hours, one of my colleagues counted over 200 bodies on the beach near Derna,” he said.

Divers are also searching the waters off the Mediterranean coastal city.

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Libya: Almost a quarter ‘dead or missing’

Libya chief prosecutor Al Siddiq Al Sou said on Friday evening that the public prosecutor’s office had summoned the dam’s administration and the authority responsible for water resources.

He said the investigations are focusing on the funds allocated for the maintenance of the two dams, stressing that the office has reports that cracks could be seen in them before the flooding.

“I reassure the citizens that whoever made a mistake, neglected, the prosecution will certainly take firm measures, file a criminal case against him, and put him on trial,” he said.

Entire buildings had been moved by the floodwater
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Entire buildings had been moved by the floodwater

Men pray between digging
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Men pray between digging

The number of deaths may also increase again due to the spread of waterborne diseases and moving explosives that were swept up when the two dams collapsed and sent a wall of water gushing through the city, officials warned.

Ibrahim al Arabi, health minister in Libya’s Tripoli-based western government, said he was certain groundwater was polluted with water mixed up with corpses, dead animals, refuse and chemical substances.

“We urge people not to approach the wells in Derna,” he said.

Libyan authorities have limited access to the flooded coastal city of Derna to dig through the mud and hollowed-out buildings for the more than 10,000 people still missing.

Read more:
Before and after pictures show devastation of Libya floods
What caused sheer scale of destruction in flooded Libyan city?

The disaster has brought some rare unity to oil-rich Libya after years of civil war between rival governments in the country’s east and west that are backed by various militia forces and international patrons.

But the opposing governments have struggled to respond to the crisis, and recovery efforts have been hampered by confusion, difficulty getting aid to the hardest-hit areas, and the destruction of Derna’s infrastructure, including several bridges.

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Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro has died

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Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro has died

Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who was arrested in January after spending 30 years on the run, has died, according to Italian media reports.

The 61-year-old was suffering from cancer at the time of his arrest.

As his condition worsened in recent weeks he was transferred to a hospital from the maximum-security prison in central Italy where he was initially held.

He was convicted of numerous crimes, including for his role in planning the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – crimes that shocked Italy and sparked a crackdown on the Sicilian mob.

Read more:
Godfather and Joker posters found in apartment used by mafia boss
Man whose identity was used by prolific mafia boss arrested in Sicily

He was also held responsible for bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan in 1993 that killed 10 people, as well as helping organise the kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, 12, to try to dissuade the boy’s father from giving evidence against the mafia.

The boy was held for two years, then murdered.

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Dubbed by the Italian press as “the last Godfather”, Messina Denaro is not believed to have given any information to the police after he was seized outside a private health clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, on 16 January.

According to medical records leaked to the Italian media, he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 under a false name.

A doctor at the Palermo clinic told La Repubblica newspaper that Messina Denaro’s health had worsened significantly in the months leading up to his capture.

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The sleepy Russian village where a pardoned ex-convict back from Ukraine carried out butchery

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The sleepy Russian village where a pardoned ex-convict back from Ukraine carried out butchery

The village of Derevyannoe in Karelia, northwest Russia, has a well-kept feel to it. Apple trees heavy with fruit and tidy vegetable gardens, boats on trailers ready for sailing in the nearby lake and wood stacked up high for winter.

Up above you can just about make out the sound of woodpeckers tapping away in the pine forest canopy as dogs bark fiercely behind corrugated iron. It does not look like a place for mass murder, but where does.

Irina Zhamoidina stands in front of the charred remains of her brother, Artyom Tereschenko’s home. He and her 71-year-old father, Vladimir, were murdered here on the night of 1 August when two men, both of them ex-convicts, one fresh back from the frontline, broke in and stabbed father and son to death before setting the property on fire.

Mr Taroschenko’s children, aged nine and 12, managed to escape through a window and raise the alarm.

Diana Magnay wagner violence

“My dad definitely did not deserve such a death,” Ms Zhamoidina says quietly. “We are from a good family. This is not how he should have died.”

The two men then continued down the road to another house a few hundred metres away and killed all four who lived there, three men and a woman, before setting their house on fire too. A drunken binge with a dose of drugs mixed in, Ms Zhamoidina thinks – a ‘zapoi’, as they’re known in Russia – turned murderous one sleepy summer night.

One of the men, Maxim Bochkarev, was known locally as a troublemaker. He had served time at a prison colony in St Petersburg for theft, carjacking, rape and sexual assault which is where he met his partner in crime, Igor Sofonov.

Artyom and his wife
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Artyom Taroschenko and his wife

Sofonov, 37, had three more years to go for theft, robbery and attempted murder but was recruited straight from jail by Russia’s Ministry of Defence and sent to Ukraine, a practice started by the late Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and adopted enthusiastically by the Russian military.

“I believe that anyone who was in prison, even if he went to war, then he should be sent back when he was done for such serious crimes,” Ms Zhamoidina says. “They should not live among us because cases like this do happen.”

She is right. The catalogue of violent crimes committed by pardoned ex-offenders is picking up as they trickle back home.

Diana Magnay wagner violence

In June, Prigozhin said 32,000 recruited by Wagner were heading back to Russia, their records wiped clean.

Already in the southern city of Krasnodar, a Wagner ex-convict is on trial for murdering two people on their way home from work, a charge he denies. There have been cases of murder, sexual assault, child molestation from convicted sexual offenders.

In Novy Burets, about 500 miles east of Moscow, a Wagner ex-convict murdered an elderly lady, again on a drunken binge, even after locals repeatedly expressed their alarm to authorities that he was wandering their streets.

Read more:
Prigozhin’s ‘death’ seems to reveal a Russian principle
How Russia may seek to exploit crisis-hit Niger

diana magnay wagner violence
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A few hundred metres away from Artyom’s home, four people were killed in another house

Three years ago we travelled to the Siberian city of Kemerovo to cover a case of domestic violence which had culminated in the brutal murder of 23-year-old Vera Pekhteleva. Her story had shocked the country after the audio recordings of her screams, as neighbours made repeated, desperate calls to police, went viral. In court, her uncle had sat just metres away from the killer, Vladislav Kanyus, as he was sentenced to 17 years in jail. Now from social media photos, he knows that Kanyus is a free man, recruited by the Ministry of Defence and serving somewhere in Ukraine.

“He murdered her with extreme cruelty,” Mr Pekhtelev said. “He was tormenting Vera for three hours, and now he will have been trained to fight. I just can’t imagine what will happen if he comes back.”

The blue building and blue corridor are Leningradsky Proskpekt, Kemerovo where the murder happend.  In flat 738.
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Leningradsky Proskpekt, in Kemerovo, the site of the murder three years ago

The blue building and blue corridor are Leningradsky Proskpekt, Kemerovo where the murder happened.  In flat 738.
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Blue and white corridors outside the scene of the killing in Leningradsky Proskpekt

Changes to Russian legislation in June propose allowing suspected or convicted criminals to fight but not once a verdict takes effect. The reality of Russia’s prisoner recruitment though seems a lot murkier. According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, it is part of a “broader, intense drive by the Russian military to bolster its numbers, while attempting to avoid implementing new mandatory mobilisation, which would be very unpopular”.

It is a policy which will see hardened criminals, traumatised by war, returning in their thousands with precious little in the way of psychological support or rehabilitation to speak of. Just as with domestic violence in Russia, authorities do not engage sufficiently with these kind of social issues back home, and especially not when there is a war on. But this is the stuff which tears at the social fabric of towns and villages across the country. This is one more of the many unintended consequences of war. Beyond the the zinc coffins and the escalating drone onslaught, this is how war comes home.

Alexandra Sofonova, Igor’s sister, believes the state should give psychological support to men like her brother, but she is sure that it won’t. “He served his duty, he was wounded – he’s a man and they’re proud of things like this. And then he came back and turned out to be unnecessary, he couldn’t even get a passport, he goes to glue wallpaper. Maybe something clicked in his head”, she says.

On the back of a supermarket wall a few feet from where we sit there is a piece of graffiti scrawled in large black letters. “Putin, no to war,” it says. I ask Alexandra what she thinks about it.

Diana Magnay wagner violence
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“Putin, no to war”

“I don’t know what kind of special operation this is,” she says. “Many of my friends died and are returning in zinc coffins. But they are dying for nothing. What are we fighting to win?”

The other sister in this story, Irina Zhamoidina, whose men were murdered back home, says it is her faith in God which gets her through each painful day.

“I’m afraid for the whole country. No one has the right to kill another, to take a life. They were not given this right”, she says. “We must stop this somehow, so that these kind of people are not among normal society.”

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Somalia truck bombing kills 15 people and wounds 40 others

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Somalia truck bombing kills 15 people and wounds 40 others

A bombing at a checkpoint in Somalia has killed at least 15 people and wounded 40 others, authorities have said.

Images on social media showed a damaged truck cab on fire and black smoke billowing from the scene in the central city of Beledweyne.

No one has immediately claimed responsibility, including Al Shabaab, which often carries out attacks and controls parts of Somalia.

Police officer Ahmed Aden said the dead included five police officers who fired on the truck in a failed attempt to stop it from ramming into the nearby checkpoint.

Shops nearby were reduced to rubble, with reports of people missing beneath the debris.

It was a truck loaded with explosive devices that forcefully passed through the government-manned checkpoint, and a pick-up vehicle belonging to security personnel was chasing it when it exploded,” said witness Abdikadir Arba, who said he was about 200 metres away and was one of the first responders.

Abdifatah Mohamed Yusuf, director-general of the Hirshabelle Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, confirmed the deaths.

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“Twenty of the wounded have been admitted to Beledweyne hospitals, while another 20 are in critical condition, prompting a request for their airlift to Mogadishu for advanced medical treatment,” he said.

Read more on Sky News:
Somalia is fighting a battle on all fronts
At least 20 killed in hotel attack
Locust swarms risk food crisis

Hirshabelle is a state that includes Beledweyne. It has been the centre of the Somali government’s latest military offensive against extremists from Al Shabaab.

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Al Shabaab has been battling Somalia’s central government for more than a decade, aiming to establish its rule based on strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

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