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DRCongo forces bomb mutineers in famed African park
by Staff Writers
Goma, Dr Congo (AFP) May 12, 2012

Angola collects 80,000 post-war weapons
Luanda (AFP) May 11, 2012 - Authorities in Angola have collected more than 80,000 small weapons since the start of an exercise to disarm civilians in 2008, a disarmament official said Friday.

The majority of the weapons were voluntarily turned in by civilians, mostly in the capital Luanda, home to nearly a third of the 18 million population and where many Angolans fled during the civil war which ended in 2002.

"There are still weapons in civilian hands, a situation that worries us because people continue to die and commit crimes with these weapons in Angola," Paulo de Almeida, a senior police officer and coordinator of the disarmament committee told AFP.

There were an estimated two million small arms in circulation in Angola at the end of the civil war.

"Every day we collect weapons from civilians, on a voluntary basis and forcibly," he added.

The disarmament scheme was launched in March 2008 to curb the proliferation of small arms, a legacy of decades of war.

The conflict killed an estimated half a million people, displaced four million others and the country is one of the world's most landmine riddled.

Government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo launched airstrikes Saturday against mutineers near the Rwandan border, where a rebel leader known as the "Terminator" was said to be hiding.

The increasing violence in and around Virunga national park, on the border with Rwanda and Uganda and famed for its volcanos and mountain gorilla population, has also led to the recent death of a ranger.

Fighting in this central African nation has increased dramatically after numerous troops and armed government forces mutinied from their posts.

Many of the mutineers are said to be close to rebel leader General Bosco Ntaganda -- known as the "Terminator" and wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes, including charges he enlisted child soldiers.

"Two war planes have joined in the fighting. They have bombed the hills of Runyonyi and Chanzu", the base of former rebels who joined a government militia before turning mutinous, a loyalist army colonel told AFP.

He said government troops were also using heavy weapons and had asked the local population to leave "so there is no confusion between civilians and the enemy."

Omar Kavota, a local lawyer and deputy president of a local civil society in north Kivu, confirmed the aerial bombing, saying Bikenge had also been hit.

"But the mutineers are still in control of those areas," which they captured on Thursday, and don't appear "rattled", he told AFP.

The mutineers, however, failed to capture an army base at Rumangabo, he added.

Loyalist forces have also flushed rebels out of Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda, army officers said.

The mutineers claim to belong to the March 23 Movement (M23), a new splinter group made up of former rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), and are led by Colonel Sultani Makenga, a former CNDP officer.

In April, more than a dozen senior officers from the former CNDP, who were integrated into the national army as a result of peace talks in 2009, mutinied along with several hundred men in the north and south Kivu regions.

Ntaganda is wanted by the ICC on a war crimes charge of enlisting child soldiers, but Kinshasa had refused to hand him over, saying he was needed to keep the peace pact.

But he is also now wanted by the government which holds him responsible for the mutiny.

Loyalist forces believe Ntaganda and a small group of his men have taken refuge in Virunga national park, where a ranger and two soldiers were killed when they came under machine-gun fire from some 100 unidentified men.

Ranger Paris Paluku, married with two children, "was always at the head of any patrol, which put him at risk and ultimately cost him his life," chief warden Emmanuel de Merode was quoted as saying.

The park has been infiltrated by four distinct militia groups in recent weeks, according to de Merode.

Local residents were said to be fleeing the area to avoid violence in "a large-scale population displacement," he said. The park is currently closed to tourists because of the instability.

More than 150 park rangers have been killed since the east of the country became a theatre of armed conflict between various groups in 1990, according to the WWF.

Its animals have also suffered, with at least 23 of the critically endangered gorillas being killed.

More than 10,000 people have fled from DR Congo to Rwanda and Uganda following clashes between the Congolese army and mutinous soldiers, officials said Friday.

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West Africa defence chiefs to meet on G.Bissau, Mali
Abuja (AFP) May 11, 2012 - West African defence chiefs plan to meet next week to consider plans for deploying troops to coup-hit Guinea Bissau and Mali, the regional bloc ECOWAS said Friday.

The deployment of troops to the two countries is "part of the region's response to the increased security challenges in the region," the statement said.

Participants at the meeting to be held Monday will be updated on the logistic preparations to support the deployments and on the situation in Mali following the March 22 overthrow of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The one-day meeting, also to be attended by heads of gendamerie and police forces from Burkina Faso and Nigeria, will also discuss the current status of the separatist rebellion in the north of Mali.

"They will specifically consider issues relating to force generation for ECOWAS Mission to Mali and the units proposed for the reconstituted force of 3,000 troops," it said.

A summit of leaders from countries in the Economic Community of West African States approved the deployment of troops to Mali and Guinea Bissau at a May 3 meeting in Dakar.

Mali coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo agreed last month to a deal brokered by ECOWAS that led to a new transitional government.

Although he has formally quit power, he remains an influential political force and has refused ECOWAS demands for elections within 12 months.

He has also rejected plans to send foreign troops into northern Mali, captured by a loose coalition of Tuareg and Islamist rebels after the coup.

Laborious talks have taken place between the regional mediators and the soldiers.

Meanwhile Guinea-Bissau coup leaders and west African mediators agreed Friday that parliamentary speaker Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo will lead a transition government, ruling out the return of the toppled team.


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MSU plan would control deadly tsetse fly
East Lansing, MI (SPX) May 10, 2012
For the first time, scientists have created a satellite-guided plan to effectively control the tsetse fly - an African killer that spreads "sleeping sickness" disease among humans and animals and wipes out $4.5 billion in livestock every year. Michigan State University researchers developed the plan using a decade's worth of NASA satellite images of Kenyan landscape and by monitoring tsets ... read more

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