Power line falls, kills 4 at Congo protest
KINSHASA, Congo -- Four people participating in demonstrations against the United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo were killed Wednesday after a high-voltage power line fell on them, officials said.
Andre Byadunia, a civil society coordinator in the city of Uvira, said the demonstrators were electrocuted when an electric cable gave way in the Kilomoni district.
Uvira Deputy Mayor Kyky Kifara confirmed the incident. He said he was at the demonstration site when the cable fell and he thinks the death toll could have been higher if police and security forces had not already dispersed the crowd.
"I was there, I've been there since morning. There was a bullet that cut a high-voltage wire. I almost died myself, Luckily, I barely escaped," Kifara said.
At least 15 people, including three U.N. personnel, have died and more than 60 people have been injured during what is now three days of demonstrations in eastern Congo, Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said.
Protesters accuse the peacekeepers of failing to protect civilians amid rising violence and are calling for the U.N. forces that have been in Congo for years to leave. The mission has more than 16,000 uniformed personnel in Congo, according to the U.N.
Strong earthquake rattles Philippines
MANILA, Philippines -- A strong earthquake set off landslides and damaged buildings in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring dozens. In the capital, hospital patients were evacuated and terrified people rushed outdoors.
The 7-magnitude quake was centered in a mountainous area of Abra province, said Renato Solidum, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, who described the midmorning shaking as a major earthquake.
"The ground shook like I was on a swing and the lights suddenly went out. We rushed out of the office, and I heard screams and some of my companions were in tears," said Michael Brillantes, a safety officer of the Abra town of Lagangilang, near the epicenter.
"It was the most powerful quake I've felt and I thought the ground would open up," Brillantes told The Associated Press by cellphone.
At least five people died -- mostly in collapsed structures. One villager died when hit by falling cement slabs in his house in Abra, where dozens of others were injured. In Benguet province, a worker was pinned to death after a small building that was under construction collapsed in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad.
Sri Lanka OKs state of emergency decree
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's Parliament on Wednesday approved a state of emergency that had been declared by President Ranil Wickremesinghe as his government cracks down on demonstrators it accuses of violence while trying to find a way out of the country's worst economic crisis.
The vote passed 120-63 in the 225-member Parliament. The other lawmakers abstained. The decree, which gives the president the power to make regulations in the interest of public security and order, has to be approved every month.
Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency last week as acting president before lawmakers elected him to serve the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's five-year term until 2024. Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka after thousands of protesters stormed the president's official residence and other buildings. He later resigned from Singapore.
Ruling party members who back Wickremesinghe said that while protests were reasonable at the beginning of the crisis, groups that don't believe in parliamentary democracy and want to capture power through unconstitutional means had infiltrated the demonstrators and were creating disturbances.
Within a day of Wickremesinghe' s election, the military raided and dismantled the camps the protesters had set up for more than 100 days opposite the president's office. Some protesters were beaten up.
Israel army says Hamas rebuilding itself
EREZ MILITARY BASE, Israel -- The Israeli army said on Wednesday that Hamas has rebuilt some of the capabilities that were damaged during last year's Gaza war, including three new tunnels and a series of weapons manufacturing and storage sites.
The army published aerial imagery and maps showing what it said are tunnels, weapons factories and arms depots. It said the installations were near al-Azhar University in Gaza City, a Pepsi factory, mosques, United Nations facilities and hospitals elsewhere in Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the army's claims are '"pure lies and fabrications."
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies that have fought four wars and numerous skirmishes since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
In the most recent round of fighting, in May 2021, over 260 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, and tens of thousands displaced, according to U.N. figures.
The Israeli army says it tries to prevent civilian casualties and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields by operating and firing rockets from residential areas.