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Troubled Mali names new army chief

7 dead in Nigeria raid on insurgents plotting 'attacks'
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Nov 09, 2013 - Nigerian security forces staged lethal raids Saturday on suspected Boko Haram insurgents in the northern city of Kano allegedly plotting "suicide attacks" there and in the capital Abuja, the military said.

Five suspected "terrorists" and two soldiers died in gunbattles during the swoop on two addresses in Kano conducted by elite troops and domestic intelligence officers, military spokesman Captain Iweha Ikedichi said in a statement.

"Intelligence available indicates that the terrorists were in the process of finalizing plans to carry out simultaneous suicide attacks in Abuja and Kano respectively," he said.

Troops recovered a cache of arms and ammunition, he said.

Nigerian forces are waging an offensive against Boko Haram after President Goodluck Jonathan extended a state of emergency in three states in the volatile northeast in a bid to quell the Islamist group's bloody insurgency.

Kano is the stronghold of Boko Haram, a radical Islamist group that since mid-2009 has attacked Christians, Muslims, students, politicians and other groups opposed to its ambition to impose Sharia, or strict Islamic law.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and top oil producer. The northern half is mostly Muslim and the more prosperous south is predominately Christian.

by Staff Writers
Bamako (AFP) Nov 09, 2013
Mali's government said Saturday it had named a new army chief of staff, two months after the country's new president took office seeking to restore stability following a rebellion and coup.

The government named General Mahamane Toure, previously the director of a peacekeeper training academy in the capital, to take over from Ibrahim Dahirou Dembele, without giving a reason for the replacement.

It also formally dissolved a committee on military reform that had been criticised as a golden parachute for the leader of the March 2012 coup that helped plunge the country into chaos.

In the post-coup transition, junta leader Amadou Sanogo had been installed at the head of the committee and promoted from captain to general, outraging human rights groups.

Mali's interim government removed Sanogo from the post last August, just before newly elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita took office on September 4.

"After the election of the president of the republic and his swearing-in, it now seems necessary to put an end to the (committee's) work," the government said Saturday.

The military reshuffling came as rebels from Mali's minority Tuareg group disputed the army's account of clashes Friday in the country's northeast.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg separatist group, accused the army of executing three civilians during what the military had described as a rebel attack.

"A column of the Malian army arrested, held and executed several civilians in the Menaka area" on Friday morning, the MNLA said in a statement.

It said six people had been arrested, three of whom were executed and three of whom were "tortured and severely wounded".

It did not say what led to the incident.

Military sources said Friday that MNLA rebels had attacked soldiers on patrol at a market near the border with Niger.

Mali's defence ministry blamed unidentified "armed bandits", saying three of them had been killed and four wounded. One soldier was also wounded, it said.

There has been an upsurge in violence in Mali since the MNLA pulled out of peace talks with the government in September.

Two French journalists were shot dead last week during a kidnapping claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The chief suspect in the kidnapping is a Tuareg thought to have associated with both AQIM and the mainly secular MNLA.

The Tuareg, traditionally a federation of nomadic tribes who have staged repeated rebellions in Mali and Niger, are scheduled to hold new talks with the government in November.

But the government strongly opposes Tuareg self-rule.

Mali is struggling to restore stability after months of turmoil sparked by the coup and the takeover of its vast desert north by Al-Qaeda-linked fighters who had piggybacked on the latest Tuareg rebellion to install brutal Islamic law in the region.

A French-led military operation launched in January ousted the Islamist extremists, but sporadic attacks have continued.


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Hong Kong firm debuts in Africa with $104m S.African deal
Johannesburg (AFP) Nov 05, 2013
Hong Kong property firm Shanghai Zendai took its first venture into the African market on Tuesday with a multi-million dollar deal to develop a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa's commercial hub. Shanghai Zendai purchased a 1,600-hectare parcel of land in the eastern Johannesburg suburb of Modderfontein for $104 million and plans to redevelop it over the next 15 years into a commercial, r ... read more

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