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Suicide bomber in Nigeria kills at least 6 soldiers
by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Aug 5, 2012

A suicide bomber in a car rammed into a military patrol on Sunday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu, killing himself, at least six soldiers and a civilian, the state police boss confirmed.

"He detonated the bomb he was carrying in his car, killing himself. Six soldiers were also killed, nine others were injured and are in hospital," Patrick Egbuniwe, the Yobe state police commissioner, told AFP.

"One civilian was killed and another one injured," he added.

A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, earlier said the attacker and five soldiers died in the explosion.

There was no immediate claim for the attack, but it was similar to scores of others carried out by radical Islamist group Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed hundreds in Nigeria.

Egbuniwe provided a slightly different version of events, saying the suicide bomber was being chased by a military patrol vehicle and the driver detonated the bomb and blew himself up when soldiers closed in on him.

However, the security source said the bomber in a sport-utility vehicle had been parked along the roadside and rammed into the multiple vehicle military convoy when it passed, affecting two of the vehicles.

Damaturu is the capital of Yobe state, which has been hard hit by attacks blamed on Boko Haram.

Sunday's attack follows a suicide bomber's attempt to assassinate Yobe state's top traditional Muslim leader, the Emir of Fika, on Friday.

The bomber sought to approach the emir after Friday prayers in the city of Potiskum but was pushed away. He blew himself up and wounded a number of others.

Authorities have been carrying out raids since the attempted attack in a bid to arrest suspected members of Boko Haram, which has claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

The group is thought to include various factions with differing aims, however, and demands have repeatedly shifted.

In a video posted to YouTube on Saturday, the suspected leader of Boko Haram criticised US President Barack Obama over Washington's decision to label him a "global terrorist".

It was unclear when the video was made, but it marked the first time Abubakar Shekau publicly addressed the terrorist designation slapped on him by the United States in June.

In addition to Shekau, the US State Department also announced the designations for Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi -- both who were said to be linked to Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Members of Boko Haram are believed to have received training from AQIM in northern Mali, and Western countries have been watching closely for signs of further cooperation.

Some US lawmakers have been pushing Obama's administration to label Boko Haram as a whole a terrorist organisation, but American diplomats have stressed that the group remains domestically focused.

They also say deep poverty and a lack of infrastructure in Nigeria's north must be addressed as part of the solution to the violence.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

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Five Ivorian soldiers killed in Abidjan twin attacks
Abidjan (AFP) Aug 5, 2012 - Gunmen killed five soldiers in two attacks early Sunday, on a police station and an army position in Abidjan, Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi told AFP.

Three members of the armed forces were killed in an attack on a police station in the Yopougon neighbourhood, while two others died in an attack on a nearby army position moments later, he said.

"Six people arrived in a taxi in military fatigues, heavily armed and opened fire," apparently in a bid to free some people who had been arrested Saturday, Koffi said.

"The exchange of gunfire took place for several minutes," said a police officer, adding that the attack had happened at around 0200 GMT.

"A few minutes later, (the attackers) went a little further to a control post" held by the army and opened fire without warning, killing the two soldiers, he added.

They thought that the same group had carried out both attacks.

Witnesses said the area was being patrolled by security forces.

The Yopougon district of Abidjan was the site of fiere fighting during the the post-electoral crisis of December 2010 to April 2011 that claimed 3,000 lives across the country.

That crisis was sparked by the refusal of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo to admit defeat to current leader Alassane Ouattara in elections.

While security has improved in Ivory Coast since the end of the conflict, political tensions continue to spark violence, particularly in the western part of the country.

On July 20, at least 11 people were killed and dozens of others injured in attacks in Duekoue, in the west, an area long beset by ethnic tensions.

And in early June, several villages south of Duekoue also came under attack, close to the border with Liberia. More than 20 people were killed, including seven UN peacekeeping troops from Niger serving with the UN mission in Ivory Coast.

The attacks were blamed on supporters of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, based in neighbouring Liberia.

Ouattara's government has been trying to disarm and reintegrate fighters involved in both sides of the conflict into the Ivorian army to reduce the violence.

In a statement on Saturday, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, a principal ally of Ouattara's government, called for this integration process to be speeded up.


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France would back African intervention in Mali: minister
Lorient, France (AFP) Aug 4, 2012
France would back an African military intervention in Islamist-held northern Mali, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday. But even if he believed such an operation was inevitable - and desirable - it was not for France to take the lead, he added. "It is not for France to take the military initiative in Mali," he told journalists during a visit to Lorient in northwest Fra ... read more

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