Inter Held At Roma To Leave Juventus Closer To Serie A Title

 

Inter Milan missed a chance to keep the pressure on Juventus after being held 2-2 at Roma on Sunday, leaving the way clear for the Turin giants to close in on a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

Romelu Lukaku’s penalty two minutes from time rescued a point for Antonio Conte’s Inter, who are second, five points behind Juventus.

Juve can open up an eight-point lead on the top of the table when they host fourth-placed Lazio on Monday.

Stefan De Vrij had got Inter off the mark at the Stadio Olimpico when he headed home an Alexis Sanchez corner after 14 minutes.

But Roma captain Edin Dzeko set up Leonardo Spinazzola for the equalizer in first-half stoppage time and was again involved when Henrikh Mkhitaryan got the second in the 57th minute.

Lukaku came off the bench and scored from the spot late after Spinazzola fouled Victor Moses.

It was a stalemate that does little to help either team and boosts Juventus’ chances of extending their record Serie A run.

“We have to get used to playing these big games with so much pressure, which is something Inter have lost in recent years,” said Conte, whose side have not won Serie A since 2010, when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho.

“I can’t blame my players for anything, today we faced a team in good shape,” he continued.

“Our team is doing excellent things. Beyond the second place, we are into the Champions League.”

Inter cannot be caught by Roma, who are fifth and nine points adrift of the Champions League places, 14 behind Inter with four matches to play.

They are one point ahead of third-placed Atalanta, who have also qualified for Europe’s top competition after Inter’s draw in the Italian capital.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso was unhappy with the league’s tight schedule as his side beat Udinese 2-1.

Napoli are two points behind Roma in sixth after Matteo Politano blasted in the winner five minutes into injury time to snatch all three points.

“It was an important victory even if now we’re playing another sport which worries me,” said Gattuso.

“This is not football. Playing every three days and without fans is something different, the players are not robots.”

Gattuso’s side are out of the running for the Champions League next season but are preparing to meet Barcelona in the second leg of their last 16 tie in this year’s edition, with both sides locked at 1-1.

SPAL return to Serie B

At the bottom of the table Brescia, in 19th, won 2-1 to condemn SPAL to a return to Serie B after two seasons in the top flight.

In another relegation dogfight, Genoa beat Lecce 2-1 to move four points clear of the southerners who occupy the final relegation spot.

Genoa are four points behind Torino, who lost 2-0 at Fiorentina.

City rivals Sampdoria are on the brink of securing Serie A survival after staging a thrilling comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 at Parma.

Fabio Quagliarella scored one and set up Federico Bonazzoli for the winner as Claudio Ranieri’s side won a third consecutive match for the first time this season.

Ranieri, who memorably guided outsiders Leicester City to the 2016 English Premier League title, took over last October with the club sitting bottom of the table.

But they have come back strong after the coronavirus lockdown, winning five of their last six games and are 12 points above the drop zone with four games left.

Parma were two goals ahead at half-time thanks to Gervinho and an own goal from Samp goalkeeper Bartosz Bereszynski.

But Julian Chabot pulled one back with his head two minutes after the break before Fabio Quagliarella curled in his 11th of the season with 21 minutes and teed up Federico Bonazzoli for the winner with 12 minutes to go.

Sampdoria move ahead of Parma into 12th position as Roberto D’Aversa’s side, who had been targeting the Europa League places earlier this season, slumped to their sixth defeat in seven games.

US Records 63,872 New Virus Cases In 24 Hours – Johns Hopkins

 

The United States on Sunday recorded 63,872 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, Johns Hopkins University reported in its real-time tally.

That put the total number of cases in the US, the nation hardest hit by the global pandemic, at 3,762,081, the Baltimore-based university said at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday).

Another 514 deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 140,474.

READ ALSO: I Almost Killed My Daughter, Kanye West Reveals At Chaotic Opening Of Presidential Bid

The US has recorded more than 60,000 new cases every day for the last six days, peaking at a record 77,638 infections on Friday.

President Donald Trump, in a Fox News interview broadcast on Sunday, again defended his handling of the pandemic, claiming that the US was “the envy of the world” on testing. Referring to his early prediction that the virus would disappear, he said, “I’ll be right eventually.”

He again opposed any national mandate for mask-wearing, saying, “I want people to have a certain freedom.”

Chilean Police Train Dogs To Sniff Out COVID-19

dogs-chile
Members of the Chilean Police Canine Training team show two Golden Retriever dogs named Coffie (R) and Clifford (L) before the beginning of their training session aimed to detect people infected with coronavirus COVID-19 during a presentation to the press, in Santiago, on July 14, 2020. MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP

 

Police in Chile are training dogs to detect people that may be infected with the novel coronavirus by sniffing their sweat.

The dogs — three golden retrievers and a labrador — are between the ages of four and five. Until now they have been used to sniff out illicit drugs, explosives and lost people, police say.

The training program is a joint effort by Chile’s national police, the Carabineros, and specialists at the Universidad Catolica de Chile.

It follows in the footsteps of similar efforts taking place in France, said Julio Santelices, head of the police school of specialties.

Dogs have 330 million olfactory receptors, and an ability to detect smells 50 times better than humans. They can also smell 250 people per hour.

“The virus has no smell, but rather the infection generates metabolic changes” which in turn leads to the release of a particular type of sweat “which is what the dog would detect,” Fernando Mardones, a Universidad Catolica professor of veterinary epidemiology, told AFP.

According to Santelices, tests in Europe and Dubai shown a 95 percent efficiency rate in canine detection of COVID-19 cases.

Medical Detection Dogs, a British charity set up in 2008 to harness dogs’ sharp sense of smell to detect human diseases, also started training canines to detect COVID-19 in late March.

– Four-legged biodetectors –

“The importance of this scientific study is that it will allow dogs to become biodetectors, and detect this type of illness at an early stage,” Santelices told AFP.

Mardones said that there is already evidence that dogs can detect diseases such as tuberculosis, parasite infections, and even early stages of cancer.

Canines can detect subtle changes in skin temperature, potentially making them useful in determining if a person has a fever.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the possibility of contagion from a dog is remote.

The canine trainees began their education one month ago, and will use sweat samples taken from COVID-19 patients being treated at the Universidad Catolica’s clinic.

The experts hope to have the dogs trained and working in the field by August.

The plan is to deploy them with an officer in pedestrian-heavy areas such as train stations and airports, and at health control stations.

Chile on Tuesday reported 1,836 new cases of COVID-19 — the lowest figure in two months — bringing the total of cases since March 3 to 319,493.

The viral infection has killed more than 11,000 people, according to the most recent Health Ministry official report, which includes “probable” COVID-19 victims.

AFP

Biden Under Pressure To Address Sexual Assault Allegation

emocratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

 

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Wednesday he has a proud history of campaigning against sexual violence, as he faces mounting pressure to respond to an assault allegation made by a former aide.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has been accused by Tara Reade of assaulting her in 1993, when she was a 29-year-old staff assistant in the office of Biden, then a US senator from Delaware.

Biden’s campaign has denied the claims, but he himself has not responded directly to the allegations by Reade, now 56.

However he touted his record of supporting abuse victims when asked a question about military prosecutions for felonies including rape at a virtual town hall late Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Bollywood Mourns Another Star As Rishi Kapoor Dies At 67

“As you know, I wrote and championed the Violence Against Women Act, transformed how this country gets justice and support to survivors and led the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign to fight sexual assault on campuses. As VP, I fought to provide a special victims counsel for sexual assault cases in the military,” the 77-year-old said.

He promised that “all options are on the table” when it came to assaults in the military.

Biden spoke as the furor surrounding the claim by Reade continues to grow, despite a statement issued by his campaign on April 13 which said the incident “absolutely did not happen.”

The claim has drowned out other news about Biden, such as his search for a running mate, who he has pledged will be a woman.

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has flooded his Twitter feed with mocking references to Reade’s allegation, ignoring the string of accusations made by women against his own candidate.

More than a dozen women have accused the real estate mogul of sexual misconduct including rape before he became president.

Biden has not been asked directly about Reade’s allegation in either the interviews he has given from his Delaware home, where he has been confined because of the coronavirus pandemic, or various online campaign events.

‘Everything shattered’

According to Reade, the assault took place in August 1993 in a hallway on Capitol Hill.

“We were alone, and it was the strangest thing,” Reade said in a late March interview on the Katie Halper Show podcast. “There was no, like, exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall.

“His hands were on me and underneath my clothes and, yeah, he went, he went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers,” she said.

“He was kissing me at the same time,” she said.

Reade said she pulled away and Biden allegedly said: “Come on man, I heard you liked me.”

“For me everything shattered at that moment,” Reade said.

Reade has since recounted her story to other media outlets, and filed an incident report with the Washington police in early April — seen by AFP — in which she did not name Biden.

“This is an inactive case,” a police spokesman told AFP when asked about the status of the matter.

Reade told the right-leaning Washington Examiner that she had filed the report to show she was serious and establish a paper trail.

Other women have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past, and Reade’s initial claims were similar — less severe than her most recent allegations.

The New York Times reported that it had interviewed Reade on multiple occasions, along with her friends and others who worked for Biden in the early 1990s.

According to the Times, no former Biden staffers corroborated her account, and a pattern of misconduct was not uncovered.

A friend said Reade had told her about the alleged assault at the time. A second friend said Reade told her in 2008 of a traumatic experience while working in Biden’s office.

Reade said she had also related the incident to her brother.

The allegations have led some supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who dropped out of the Democratic race and endorsed Biden, to call on the former vice president to end his White House bid.

“Out of respect for survivors and for the good of the country, he should withdraw from the race,” said Claire Sandberg, the former national organizing director of the Sanders campaign.

Bollywood Mourns Another Star As Rishi Kapoor Dies At 67

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 13, 2016 Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor pays his respects at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. (Photo by NARINDER NANU / AFP)

 

Bollywood mourned a second loss in as many days as celebrated actor Rishi Kapoor, whose career spanned half a century, died Thursday aged 67 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.

His death came as a severe blow to the Hindi movie industry and film lovers, who were already reeling from the passing Wednesday of Irrfan Khan, one of the country’s most feted actors, aged 53.

“Our dear Rishi Kapoor passed away peacefully… today after a two-year battle with leukemia,” his family said in a statement.

Fellow actor Amitabh Bachchan was among the first to mourn his death, tweeting: “I am destroyed”.

READ ALSO: Guinea-Bissau PM And Three Ministers Test Positive For Coronavirus

Born September 4, 1952, into the prolific Kapoor dynasty — which has produced four generations of actors including his son, Ranbir — he made his debut in the 1970’s epic “Mera Naam Joker” (“My Name is Joker”).

He received India’s National Award for best child actor for his performance in the film, which his father Raj produced, directed and starred in.

But it was his later persona as a romantic lead that won him legions of fans, who flocked to cinemas to see him sing, dance and charm his way into their hearts in films such as the 1973 superhit “Bobby”, and the 1977 comedy “Amar Akbar Anthony”.

As Kapoor grew older, the romantic roles ceased, allowing him the opportunity to display greater versatility.

He terrified audiences as a human trafficker in 2012’s “Agneepath” (“Path of Fire”) and won applause for his portrayal of a cantankerous porn-watching grandfather in 2016’s “Kapoor & Sons”.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2018 he sought treatment in New York, but was looking to resume work shortly with plans to film a remake of the 2015 Hollywood film “The Intern”.

He was forced to return to hospital this month, where, his family said, “the doctors and medical staff… said he kept them entertained to the last”.

Canadian NATO Helicopter Goes Missing Off Greek Island

President Buhari To Swear In Ministers August 21

 

A Canadian military helicopter operating as part of a NATO surveillance force has gone missing in international waters between Greece and Italy, the Greek air force said on Wednesday.

Initial reports said the helicopter had been 50 nautical miles off the Greek island of Kefalonia, it added.

AFP

Madrid’s ‘Worst Game Of Season’ In Betis Defeat, Lets Barca Back In

 

Real Madrid’s response to winning the Clasico was another surprise defeat on Sunday as they lost 2-1 away at Real Betis to hand the initiative straight back to Barcelona.

Betis were deserving victors of a thrilling contest at the Benito Villamarin where two galling Madrid errors cost them their place at the top of La Liga, with Barca now two points clear.

A heavy touch from Sergio Ramos led to Sidnei’s stunning opener for Betis and then Karim Benzema, who equalised with a penalty on the stroke of half-time, was at fault for their 82nd-minute winner.

Benzema’s misplaced pass in midfield allowed Cristian Tello to go clear and he held his nerve to give Betis their first victory in eight games that adds yet another twist to this season’s back-and-forth title race.

“We lacked everything today,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane.

“It was our worst game of the season. We lacked energy, fluency, possession, aggression. It was a bad day and that can happen. I am responsible. We can’t lose our heads but we can’t be happy either.”

Madrid appeared to have taken a significant step forward, at least psychologically, by beating Barcelona 2-0 last weekend but this result undid all their good work at the Santiago Bernabeu while bringing defensive doubts swiftly back to the surface.

Betis climb to 12th and put eight points between themselves and the bottom three.

Madrid have now lost three out of their last four games and won only two from seven, a dip in form that has appeared even more charitable given Barca’s own problems on and off the pitch.

After a game at home to Eibar on Friday, Zinedine Zidane’s side will travel to Manchester City in the Champions League but on this evidence their hopes of recovering their 2-1 home defeat from the first leg would seem faint at best.

Ramos will be suspended at the Etihad Stadium and his own poor run of form continued against Betis, where he was at fault for their first goal and then complicit in compounding Benzema’s error for the second.

“We haven’t played the way we trained all week,” said Ramos. “We have to be self-critical. And now we have to wait for those above us to slip up.”

Eder Militao will likely come in for Ramos against City and he was given an outing at right-back in the absence of the ill Dani Carvajal while Marcelo was preferred to Ferland Mendy on the opposite side.

Gareth Bale was left out of the starting line-up for a fourth match running.

Betis were the better side in the first half and might have taken the lead earlier had Marc Bartra not headed over from four yards or Thibaut Courtois not reacted quickly to push away Nabil Fekir’s thundering shot.

But five minutes before half-time they finally broke through, aided by Ramos, who tried to dribble the ball out after Fekir’s shot was blocked only for a heavy touch to allow the forward to retrieve.

Off balance, Ramos bundled into Fekir and probably would have conceded a penalty had the loose ball not spilled to Sidnei, who instead hammered it into the top corner.

Deservedly in front, Betis then went in level at the interval as Sidnei, perhaps with the adrenaline still pumping, fouled Marcelo in the box. Benzema drove into the bottom corner for only his third goal this year.

Both teams had chances to find a winner. A scintillating Betis break ended with Sergio Canales sending Joaquin through but after rounding Courtois he tried to square back to Canales when the net looked open. Luka Modric sprinted back and hacked away.

Madrid enjoyed their own spell of pressure as Modric’s shot from distance was saved and Mendy, on for Marcelo, curled onto the crossbar, helped on its way by the fingertips of Joel Robles.

But it was Betis that landed the decisive blow, again benefitting from a Madrid mistake. Benzema came deep and his pass inside was loose, persuading Ramos to dash out to intercept but he was beaten and left stranded.

Andres Guardado put Tello through the gap and he sent Courtois diving towards one corner before sliding the ball into the other.

Surprise Eminem Album Urges Gun Control, Sparks Anger Over Bomb Lyric

 

 

Guess who’s back?… Rapper Eminem surprised fans Friday by dropping a new album featuring a strong anti-gun violence theme but also stoking the kind of controversy that brought him fame.

On the album, one track called “Darkness” tells the story of a loner going on a shooting spree, while another song, “Unaccommodating,” has triggered outcry and muddied the veteran singer’s call for gun control.

The song references the 2017 deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, Britain, which left 22 people dead.

“But I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” the 47-year-old artist, born Marshall Mathers, raps on the track.

READ ALSO: Whitney Houston, Biggie Among Rock Hall Of Fame Inductees

The lyric was met with scorn on social media, with some users dubbing it “disgusting” and “trash.”

The new album, called “Music to be Murdered by,” features appearances from the late rapper Juice WRLD, along with Q-Tip, Ed Sheeran, Anderson. Paak and regular collaborator singer Skylar Grey.

Dr. Dre is credited throughout as a producer.

Eminem released his last album “Kamikaze” in 2018 in a similar sudden fashion. That album included several attacks on President Donald Trump.

The rapper also released Friday a video for “Darkness” that featured audio and footage from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest US gun massacre carried about by an individual in modern history.

It ends urging viewers to register to vote: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America,” closing text reads.

US Strikes On Pro-Iran Group In Iraq Kill 25, Sparking Anger

In this file photo taken on May 31, 2019 Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Iran-backed armed group, Hezbollah brigades, burn a US and Israeli flags during a military parade marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Baghdad. The US bombed the headquarters of the group in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said today, after a series of attacks in Iraq again.

 

 

US air strikes against a pro-Iran group in Iraq killed at least 25 fighters, a paramilitary umbrella said Monday, triggering anger in a country caught up in mounting tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Sunday night’s attacks saw US planes hit several bases belonging to the Hezbollah brigades, one of the most radical factions of Hashed al-Shaabi, a Tehran-backed Iraqi paramilitary coalition.

The strikes “killed 25 and wounded 51, including commanders and fighters, and the toll could yet rise,” said the Hashed, which holds major sway in Iraq.

Victims were still being pulled from the rubble of bases near Al-Qaim, an Iraqi district bordering Syria, on Monday, it said.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the US had “shown its firm support for terrorism and its neglect for the independence and sovereignty of countries” by carrying out the attacks.

READ ALSO: Woman Dies After Being Set On Fire During Hospital Operation

Washington, itself a key ally of Baghdad, must accept the consequences of its “illegal act”, he added.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper described the attacks — which hit three locations in Iraq and two in neighbouring Syria — as “successful”, and did not rule out further military action against Iran-backed militias.

The strikes were in retaliation for a series of rocket attacks since late October against US interests in Iraq, including a barrage of more than 30 fired on Friday at an Iraqi base in Kirkuk, where a US civilian contractor was killed.

The office of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is highly revered by Iraq’s Shiite majority, denounced the attacks.

“The authorities must prevent Iraq being used as a place for the settling of accounts,” it said in reference to growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

These tensions have soared since Washington pulled out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and imposed crippling sanctions.

Iraqi leaders fear their country could become a battleground between Tehran and Washington, in a context where they are also grappling with huge street protests against corruption and Iran’s political influence.

Pro-Iran factions angry

The protest movement forced prime minister Abel Abdel Mahdi to resign last month and it has rejected Iran’s favoured successor — a position shared by President Barham Saleh.

On Monday demonstrators in the Shiite-dominated southern cities of Basra and Najaf torched US flags and chanted anti-American slogans, with similar scenes reported in Kirkuk north of Baghdad.

US sources say pro-Iran armed factions now pose a greater threat than the Islamic State group, whose rise saw the US freshly deploy troops on Iraqi soil.

But significant elements of the Iraqi political class view the 5,200 US troops in the country as a “threat”, with Sunday night’s strikes reviving calls for them to leave the country.

Abdel Mahdi’s military spokesman decried “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty”, while the Hezbollah brigades are demanding the “withdrawal of the American enemy”.

Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah — which is separate from the targeted faction — called the attacks a “flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and security” and noted that Hashed had been a key player in the battle against IS.

Another powerful pro-Iran group, Assaib Ahl al-Haq — whose leaders were recently hit with US sanctions — also called for Americans to withdraw from Iraq.

“The American military presence has become a burden for the Iraqi state and a source of threat against our forces. It is therefore imperative for all of us to do everything to expel them by all legitimate means,” it said.

Parliament’s deputy speaker, part of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s bloc, called on the Iraqi state to “take all necessary measures” in the face of the US attacks.

The Badr organisation, another key pro-Iran group, took a similar line.

Several lawmakers have castigated afresh an agreement permitting American soldiers to deploy in the country, arguing the strikes amount to a violation that renders the pact obsolete.

Since October 28, at least 11 attacks have targeted Iraqi military bases where US soldiers or diplomats are deployed.

AFP Plans Job Cuts To Strengthen Finances – CEO

In this file photo of The CEO of Agence France-Presse, Fabrice Fries announced, on October 4, 2018, during the administrative board, a plan to cut 125 jobs over five years, without forced departures, as part of a ‘transformation plan’.Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

Agence France-Presse’s chief executive announced plans on Thursday to cut 125 jobs over five years, saying the measure was necessary in order to stabilise the agency’s finances.

The cuts would affect some five percent of overall staff positions in the Paris-based world news agency.

Chief executive Fabrice Fries announced the plan at a meeting of the agency’s governing board.

He said the measures would not include compulsory layoffs.

Instead, 160 retiring staff will not be replaced, while the number of new employees over the period will be limited to 35.

The cuts will be spread over the editorial, technical and administrative departments.

The measures are part of what Fries called a “transformation plan” which aims to balance the agency’s books by 2021.

AFP management says that if it does not rein in costs, the agency’s operating deficit will swell to 90 million euros ($104 million) over the next five years.

It aims to cut costs by 16.5 million euros in 2023, mostly by reducing staff numbers.

Fries took over as chief executive in April after his predecessor resigned.

He has vowed to boost sales by 30 million euros over five years, chiefly by investing in video and photo production.

AFP employs nearly 2,300 people in 151 countries.

AFP

US Condemns Arrests Of AFP Reporter, Others At Sudan Demo

The United States condemned Sudan’s arbitrary detention of journalists Friday after an AFP reporter and two colleagues were arrested covering a street protest.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali of Agence France-Presse and at least two more journalists were taken away by authorities on Wednesday as they reported on a demonstration against rising food prices.

They have not been allowed contact with their families or employers and authorities say they are being held “for investigation” by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

“We are aware of the detentions and are closely following the reports,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told AFP.

“We condemn the harassment, arbitrary detention and attacks on journalists in Sudan who are doing their jobs and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”

The United States has had difficult relations with Sudan, on which it once imposed several economic sanctions regimes over its alleged support for terrorism and brutality against the people of Darfur.

But last year US officials removed the last of the sanctions as part of a deliberate diplomatic engagement process.

Concerns remain, however, about the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court accused of ordering mass killings, rape and torture in the Darfur region.

“We remain deeply concerned about freedom of expression, including for members of the media, the closing of political space for all Sudanese, and Sudan’s poor overall human rights record,” Nauert said.

“We continue to press Sudan to improve its performance in these areas, and to ensure that those detained are treated humanely and fairly… and that they are allowed access to legal counsel and their families.”

Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP for nearly a decade, was covering protests Wednesday in the city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas at some 200 protesters.

He was unreachable after the protest and authorities informed AFP the next day that he had been arrested along with two other journalists.

Authorities initially said Idris Ali would be released within hours but as of late Friday, more than 48 hours after he was detained, he was still being held.

“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.

Food shortages 

Several protesters were also reported to have been detained at the demonstration.

Sporadic protests have erupted across Sudan after prices of food, notably bread, surged following a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat.

Wednesday’s rally was called by the main opposition Umma Party, a day after a similar demonstration organized by the Communist Party in Khartoum was broken up by police.

Authorities cracked down on similar protests in 2016, and rights groups say dozens were killed by security forces in 2013 protests.

Critics have long accused Khartoum of persecuting the media, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

AFP

AFP, Reuters Journalists Detained For Covering Sudan Protests

FILE PHOTO

Journalists working for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters were among three reporters being held by Sudanese authorities on Thursday a day after they were arrested covering demonstrations against rising food prices that were dispersed by police.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP in Khartoum for nearly a decade, was covering the protests on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas on some 200 protesters.

Idris Ali was unreachable after the protest and authorities informed AFP on Thursday that he had been arrested along with two other journalists, including one working for Reuters, and was being held at a detention centre run by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Authorities initially said Idris Ali would be released within hours but as of late Thursday, more than 24 hours after he was detained, he was still being held.

Authorities said the three journalists “are being investigated” but provided no further details.

“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.

Reuters did not name their detained reporter who they said was a stringer — a term used to describe people who work for media outlets part time or on short term assignments when news breaks.

The agency said they had last heard from their reporter just before they left to cover the protests.

“We do not know the circumstances of the detention and are actively seeking additional information about the situation,” a Reuters spokesperson said in their dispatch on the arrests.

Several protesters were also reported to have been detained at the demonstration.

Sporadic protests have erupted across Sudan after prices of food items, but mainly bread, surged following a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat supplies.

Wednesday’s rally was called by the main opposition Umma Party, a day after a similar demonstration was held near the presidential palace in Khartoum following a call issued by the Communist Party. Tuesday’s protest was also broken up by police.

Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Rights groups said dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

Critics have repeatedly accused President Omar al-Bashir’s regime of cracking down on the media in Sudan, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

AFP