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Russia expels diplomats from 23 countries

IANS Indo Asian News Service

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MOSCOW — Russia has expelled diplomats from 23 more countries on Friday in retaliation against the West as spy crisis escalates, in the biggest wave of tit-for-tat expulsions in recent memory.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned the heads of missions from 23 countries — most of them European Union member states — to tell them that some of their diplomats had to leave.

The diplomats from France, Canada, Germany, Australia and other countries were earlier seen arriving at the Russian foreign ministry in flagged official cars.

France, Germany, Canada and Poland each said that Russia was expelling four of their diplomats. Among the other countries that had similarly been told to pull their envoys were the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.

Thirteen Ukrainian diplomats should also leave Russia.

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The moves came in retaliation for the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats by Britain and its allies over a nerve agent attack against former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

“This is certainly not a surprise,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said through a spokeswoman, referring to Moscow’s expulsion of two of the country’s diplomats.

Blok called upon Russia to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the attack by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Russian foreign ministry also gave Britain a month to cut the number of diplomatic staff in Russia to the same number Russia has in Britain.

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19 killed in Islamist militant attack on Nigerian village

Thompson Reuters

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MAIDUGURI— At least 19 people have been killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria, a survivor of the attack said.

The militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state at around 2 am Sunday, according to the survivor, Abatcha Umar.

The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA).

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Umar said he had counted 19 people killed. However,an aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63.

The Islamist militants had been spotted around the village three days before their attack, said Umar. Locals had warned Nigerian troops stationed in the nearby town of Gudumbali, but no action was taken, he said.

In recent months, the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.

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