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AFRICA NEWS
Chinese ivory smuggler in Kenya to test tough new law
by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) Jan 27, 2014


Gunmen kill Chinese national in Nigeria: police
Lagos (AFP) Jan 27, 2014 - Gunmen have killed a Chinese construction worker and wounded two others in a border town in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state, police said Monday.

"The incident happened on Saturday at a border town between Kaduna and Plateau states," Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawan told AFP.

"Three Chinese nationals supervising the Jos-Kafanchan rail project were attacked in their truck by unknown gunmen. One of them died in the attack while the other two sustained injuries."

Lawan said the motive for the attack was not yet known.

In February last year, gunmen slit the throats of three Chinese doctors in a pre-dawn attack in Potiskum, in the northeastern state of Yobe.

The banned Islamist group Boko Haram, blamed for scores of deadly attacks in the north, claimed responsibility for the killings.

In November 2012, armed men shot dead two Chinese construction workers in nearby Borno State, which is also the stronghold of the Boko Haram extremists.

In October of the same year, a Chinese construction worker was killed in the Borno state capital Maiduguri while another Chinese national was shot dead in the town of Gubio, outside Maiduguri.

The killings of the Chinese nationals at the time prompted Beijing to lodge a diplomatic protest with the Nigerian authorities.

A Chinese man pleaded guilty Monday in a Kenyan court to trafficking ivory, the first person to be convicted under tough new wildlife laws designed to stem a surge of poaching.

Tang Yong Jian, 40, pleaded guilty to charges of illegal possession and dealing in ivory, after he was arrested last week while on transit from Mozambique to China via Nairobi.

He was carrying a small elephant ivory tusk weighing 3.4 kilogrammes (7.5 pounds) in a suitcase.

Under the new law, dealing in wildlife trophies carries a fine of not less than a million shillings (11,500 dollars, 8,500 euros) or a minimum jail sentence of five years, or both.

Tang is due to be sentenced on Tuesday.

The most serious wildlife crimes -- the killing of endangered animals -- now carry penalties of life imprisonment, as well as fines of up to 20 million Kenyan shillings ($230,000, 170,000 euros).

For years, Kenyan courts had their hands tied by laws that limited punishments for such crimes, but a new wildlife act signed into law this month has provided far stiffer penalties.

Previously, punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes was capped at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings ($465, 340 euros), and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.

Some smugglers caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory were even fined less than a dollar apiece.

Kenya is a key transit point for ivory smuggled from across the region.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with rhinos and elephants particularly hard-hit.

Asian consumers who buy smuggled rhino horn -- which is made of keratin, the same material as human fingernails -- believe that it has powerful healing properties.

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