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Nigeria Islamists kill 20 civilians in north: military
by Staff Writers
Maiduguri, Nigeria (AFP) July 28, 2013

Burundi to send 500 peacekeepers to Central Africa
Bujumbura, Burundi (AFP) July 27, 2013 - Burundi has 500 peacekeepers ready to be deployed to the Central African Republic, which has remained unstable since a March coup, President Pierre Nkurunziza said Saturday.

"Currently Burundian contingents are on standby, ready to go and help stabilise ... brotherly and friendly countries such as Mali and Central African Republic," Nkurunziza said on national radio.

Burundi, already the second contributor to the African Union force in Somalia with 5,500 soldiers, had previously expressed its readiness to send peacekeepers to Mali but this was the first time it mentioned the Central African Republic.

"Burundi was asked to send around 500 soldiers to Central African Republic. They are already ready but no date has so far been fixed for their deployment," an official in the president's office told AFP Saturday.

A rebel coalition known as Seleka seized power in Bangui on March 24, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee.

Regional leaders have set up a peace plan that was accepted by Seleka but Michel Djotodia, the former rebel boss and now the country's new strongman, has failed to abide by its terms, observers say.

Nkurunziza's comments came as Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso was in Burundi on a three-day official visit.

Burundi, Congo and the Central African Republic are all members of the Economic Community of Central African States.

The other members are Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Chad.

A battalion of 425 Burundian soldiers destined for Mali "has been inspected by the United Nations and is on standby to deploy", according to the Burundian army.

A force of 400 troops from countries in the central African region currently deployed in CAR, the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX), will be turned into a larger African force starting August 1, according to the African Union.

The AU's Peace and Security Council has authorised the force to have 3,500 armed personnel.

Earlier this month the AU said 2,000 had been committed or were already serving and a further 1,500 were still sought.

Suspected members of Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram shot dead more than 20 civilians when a vigilante group attacked them in the northern Borno state, a military spokesman said Sunday.

"The suspected sect members came armed and fired sporadic shots that killed over twenty innocent civilians," Haruna Mohammed Sani, spokesman for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) said.

The violence took place on Saturday in Dawashe village, the army lieutenant said in a statement.

He said men from the Civilian Joint Task Force, a vigilante group formed in Boko Haram's bastion Maiduguri to combat the Islamist gunmen who have been terrorising the region for years, entered Dawashe to search for suspects.

Suspected Boko Haram members subsequently opened fire in the village, the spokesman said, adding that the victims were mostly fishermen and traders.

Sani said a dozen other civilians sustained gunshot wounds during the incident but provided no information on casualties among the belligerents.

The toll and circumstances of the incident could not immediately be verified independently.

The MNJTF, a joint military force set up in 1998 to combat border crimes, consists of troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

Its mandate was recently expanded to fight Boko Haram, whose insurgency is estimated to have cost 3,600 lives since 2009, including killings by security forces.

The Cilivian JTF emerged in May after the state of emergency was declared in the region.

It consists of local youths who are generally armed with bows and arrows, machetes, cudgels, and axes but no guns.

The MNJTF has recognised them as an organisation, giving them training and ID cards, and effectively using them as a proxy militia.

The group's knowledge of the terrain and local languages also means it has become a valuable intelligence gathering asset for the government.

Suspected Boko Harm members late Friday attacked youth vigilantes operating in Mainok town, Borno state, killing one of them and injuring another, a military spokesman said.

JTF troops have been deployed to Mainok and surrounding villages in a bid to arrest the attackers, he said, without giving further details.


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