FBI says false arson claims hampering wildfire response

Washington - The FBI on Friday denounced numerous false claims that “extremists” are intentionally setting fires in Oregon, saying the misinformation is hampering efforts to bring devastating wildfires under control. Oregon is one of several US western states facing wildfires that have left more than a dozen people dead and pushed hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Social media users have sought to link the blazes to Antifa, a structureless movement that says it is dedicated to fighting fascism online and in public, and which is a favored target of conservatives. “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away (from) local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Portland office said in a statement. “FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue,” it said. One of the false claims about Antifa arsonists appears to have originated with Paul Romero Jr, who unsuccessfully ran to be one of Oregon’s US senators.

Around 50 feared dead in DR Congo mine collapse

Bukavu, DR Congo - About 50 people are feared dead after an artisanal gold mine collapsed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following torrential rain, a regional governor said Saturday. The accident in the makeshift mine occurred on Friday in the town of Kamituga, in South Kivu province, about 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the regional capital Bukavu. DR Congo’s mineral-rich but volatile east faces regular attacks from a plethora of militias and rebel groups which operate freely in the region. Provincial governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi deplored “the tragic deaths of 50 people, most of them young”. However, Kamituga mayor Alexandre Bundya said “we are not yet sure of the exact number” of victims. A local resident who was at the scene, Jean Nondo Mukambilwa, told AFP only one body had been found so far. He said torrential rain had flooded a river close to the mine.“Water went into the three tunnels. When people tried to get out, there was no way as the water was flowing strongly, with high pressure.”

Bahrain dissidents slam Israel deal as ‘betrayal’

Dubai - Bahrainis opposed to their government’s agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel vented their frustration on social media Saturday, underlining the complexities of the Gulf’s rapprochement with the Jewish state.                    The hashtags “Bahrainis against normalisation” and “normalisation is betrayal” were trending on Twitter after US President Donald Trump announced the deal late Friday.