africa

Over ten people die in blasts in Nigeria

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Two explosions targeting a busy market in the town of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria have left several people dead.

Eyewitnesses told the Reuters news agency that that 10 people had been killed and that more were feared trapped under rubble.

Maiduguri is the headquarters of a military force fighting against the Boko Haram Islamist group, which has stepped up its attacks in the area. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Eyewitnesses said that the attack was carried out using a car bomb at a crowded market near the airport. The second bomb went off two minutes later as neighbours arrived to help the victims.

Eyewitnesses described seeing people blown apart and body parts in the street.

Illegal gold miners found dead in South Africa

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The bodies of five illegal miners have been found near a disused gold mine in South Africa, emergency workers say. Four men and a woman were discovered by the shaft of a mine in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg.

Their deaths come a week after the high-profile rescue of more than 20 illegal miners trapped underground at an old mine east of Johannesburg. They were arrested after they emerged and are facing charges related to illegal mining.

South Africa loses millions of dollars to illegal mining activities annually, officials say.

The land around Johannesburg is dotted with disused mine shafts, which attract men from around the region, including Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, with the promise of remaining gold deposits.

26 people sentenced to death in Egypt

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An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for founding a “terror group” with the aim of attacking ships using the Suez Canal.

Judges said the men were also accused of manufacturing missiles and explosives, local media report. The defendants were tried in absentia, Reuters news agency says.

The sentencing comes a day after the new Prime Minister designate, Ibrahim Mahlab, vowed he would “crush terrorism in all the corners of the country”.

Mr Mahlab has been put in charge of forming a new government following Monday’s surprise resignation of interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi and his cabinet. Mr Beblawi was appointed in July 2013 after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in the wake of mass protests.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of others detained in a crackdown by the security forces on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs.

Militants based in the Sinai peninsula have meanwhile stepped up attacks on government, police and the armed forces, killing hundreds.

Polio-like illness found in the US

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Doctors are looking for more information about a “polio-like syndrome” that has caused paralysis in a few children in California.

Neurologists have identified five patients who developed paralysis in one or more of their limbs between August 2012 and July 2013. All five children had been vaccinated against the poliovirus. Treatment did not seem to help the children regain their motor function.

Samples from two of the children tested positive for enterovirus 68, a rare virus that has been linked to severe respiratory illness in the past. Samples from the other three children were not collected or tested soon enough to yield conclusive results, said Dr. Emmanuelle Waubant, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Waubant and her colleagues will present a case report about these patients’ illnesses at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in late April. They are asking health care providers to be on the lookout for similar cases and send in samples from any patient exhibiting these symptoms.

Dr. Carol Glaser, chief of the Encephalitis and Special Investigation Section at the California Department of Public Health, said the state is aware of the paralysis cases but believes the risk to families is very low.

The poliovirus has been eradicated in the United States for more than 30 years. Only three countries in the world are not yet free of the disease: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization. But the number of affected countries may increase over the next ten years due to illegal migration towards Europe, the WHO is already prepared for this situation.

Militants attack presidential palace in Mogadishu

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Militants carried out a deadly attack on Somalia’s presidential palace Friday, officials and eyewitnesses said. An explosion at the gate was followed by an exchange of gunfire between the fighters and security guards, police officer Abdi Mohamed said.

A U.N. representative said in a post on Twitter that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told him by phone that he was unharmed.

Terror network Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Somalia’s national security minister, Adbikarin Hussein Guled, said at least 12 people, seven of them Al-Shabaab attackers, were killed in the attack Two government officials who died were named as the secretary to the Prime Minister and the former deputy national intelligence agency chief, Gen. Nur Shirbow.

Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, said the group had achieved its objectives in the attack.

The attack comes just over a week after a car bombing near the airport in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killed two people and wounded four more, according to police, Al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility for that attack.

The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. It hopes to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state by force but has launched attacks in other countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, that have killed dozens.

Flood kills at least 68 people, Burundi, Africa

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At least 68 people, including children, have been killed in the central Africa nation of Burundi because of torrential rains, an aid group said Thursday. The rains have triggered mudslides, swept away some homes and caused others to collapse, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement.

More than 180 people have been injured, the group said, adding that it would expect to see more casualties as rescue teams reach more of the affected areas. 

Close to 20,000 people have been displaced and more than 2,000 families have been left homeless, the aid group said. Roads and crops have also been damaged.

The aftermath in Bujumbura
The aftermath in Bujumbura

“Today, we call upon all charitable people who have historically shown solidarity with Burundi to again come forward. We need temporary shelter. We need hygiene kits and we need kitchen sets. People are destitute. We absolutely have to find the means to assist these people,” said Pamphile Kantabaze, secretary general of the Burundi Red Cross Society.

Mali’s coup leader charged with “murders and assassinations”

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The ex-coup leader of the Republic of Mali has been charged with various murders and assassinations.

Armed troops went to Amadou Sanogo’s home to take him before a judge, after which he was remanded in custody.

Amadou Sanogo, the ex-coup leader
Amadou Sanogo, the ex-coup leader

He has twice ignored a summons issued in October by a judge to answer questions about events surrounding the March 2012 coup.

It plunged Mali into chaos, allowing Islamist militants to take over territory in the north.

The al-Qaeda-linked insurgents were ousted from the major towns in the north with the help of France and West African troops earlier this year.