Democratic Republic of Congo's army on Thursday declared the official start of operations against Rwandan Hutu rebels, but a senior army official said combat had not yet begun. Army spokesman General Leon Kasonga said the start of a campaign against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was announced by the chief of staff of the Congolese army (FARDC), Didier Etumba, on a visit to the northeastern city of Beni. The FDLR, whose estimated 1,400 fighters include ethnic Hutu soldiers who took part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, have been at the heart of years of conflict in central Africa's Great Lakes region. An attack on the group by the FARDC and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) has been expected since the rebels missed a Jan. 2 deadline set by regional leaders to disarm.
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Linda Sieg AMMAN/TOKYO (Reuters) - An audio message purportedly from a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants said a Jordanian air force pilot also captured by the group would be killed unless a woman jailed in Jordan was released by sunset on Thursday. The message postponed a previous deadline set on Tuesday in which the journalist, Kenji Goto, said he would be killed within 24 hours if the Iraqi would-be suicide bomber in prison in Jordan was not freed. Roughly an hour before the new deadline was due to pass, government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said Jordan was still holding Sajida al-Rishawi, who is on death row for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in Amman. The pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, was captured after his jet crashed in northeastern Syria in December during a bombing mission against Islamic State, which has seized large tracts of Syria and Iraq.
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan on Thursday demanded proof from Islamic State militants that a Jordanian pilot they are holding is still alive, raising doubts that a rapidly approaching Thursday sunset deadline for a prisoner swap set by the group can be met.