DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Gambia's president says that he wants to implement a policy change that would shift the country's language from English to a local language.
Yahya Jammeh said Friday that "we no longer subscribe to the belief that for you to be a government you should speak English language." He spoke during the swearing-in ceremony of Gambia's new Chief Justice.
He made the announcement months after the West African country announced it is withdrawing from the Commonwealth, a collection of 54 nations made up largely of former British colonies.
Though a popular destination for British tourists, Gambia has been criticized by the United Kingdom and rights groups for human rights abuses.
Jammeh, who came to power in a military coup, said Western countries have no "moral platform" to talk about human rights.
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The East African nation of Tanzania — long a force of quiet power in the region and a voice of restraint and non-interference in other countries' affairs — is embroiled in a potentially ugly feud with Rwanda and its press after Tanzania's president urged Rwanda's government to negotiate with a Congo-based Rwandan rebel group.
Since those comments last year on the sidelines of an African Union summit Rwanda's government has rebuked President Jakaya Kikwete, suggesting he sympathizes with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR rebel group. Rwanda insists there can be no negotiations with rebels whose members are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that saw more than 500,000 people killed.
Now the Rwandan press also has entered the fray, reporting that the Tanzanian president is holding secret meetings with dissidents opposed to Rwanda's president and even offering them safe haven. One account, vehemently denied by Tanzania's government as "malicious, dangerous" lies, charges that Kikwete has been holding secret meetings with the fugitive leaders of the FDLR rebel group.
This is unfamiliar territory for a country that tends to avoid the kind of virulent conflicts frequently seen in other parts of Africa's Great Lakes region. And despite mediations by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, tensions remain with Rwanda.
In January, after the online newspaper News of Rwanda reported that Kikwete had been meeting with FLDR leaders such as the fugitive Lt. Col. Wilson Irategeka, Tanzania's embassy in Rwanda released a strong statement condemning reports that "create an impression that Tanzania is working with enemies and groups opposed to" Rwanda's government.
"President Kikwete is deeply hurt by these lies and his humble advice to the editors of this publication is to stop fabricating untrue claims which potentially could create and fuel animosity and confusion among the people of our two neighboring and friendly countries," the statement said. "The Embassy of Tanzania in Rwanda does not take lightly these allegations by the News of Rwanda given the position that this publication occupies in Rwanda."
Rwanda lacks a strong independent press, and its newspapers are believed to avoid sensitive issues such as national security unless the reporting supports the view of the government or the military. Despite Tanzania's strong denial, News of Rwanda continues to publish detailed accounts of what it says are Tanzania's close ties with rebels and dissidents opposed to Kagame. The Rwandan government-owned New Times newspaper also has recently reported that some Rwandan fugitives are hiding in Tanzania, where "they are coordinating their activities" against Rwanda's government.
"Much of the Rwandan media is either controlled by the government or toes the government line, especially on political and security issues," said Carina Tertsakian, the Rwanda researcher at Human Rights Watch. "This has been noticeable in the coverage of Rwanda's increasingly tense relations with Tanzania, for example."
Relations may also be stressed after Kikwete offered last year to contribute troops toward a robust brigade of U.N. peacekeepers who helped Congolese troops to oust the M23 rebels from eastern Congo. Rwanda, which denied supporting M23 despite U.N. expert reports citing evidence to the contrary, is widely believed to want a buffer force against attacks from FDLR rebels.
Bashiru Ally, a political science lecturer at Tanzania's University of Dar es Salaam, said the country's leaders historically have avoided conflict with neighbors and that Kikwete's advice to Rwanda's government was likely given "in good faith."
"Our political culture for a long time has been that we need to maintain good neighborliness," he said. "That is the common thread in the country. Tanzania has no history of isolating itself from others." Most Tanzanians, he said, are generally wary of getting into conflict with neighbors.
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The spokesman for Libya's national oil company says militias in control of ports in the country's east are attempting to export oil independently with a North Korea-flagged tanker.
Mohammed al-Harari said Saturday that the vessel docked at al-Sidra could carry up to 350,000 barrels of oil. An oil company official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said armed gunmen forced workers loyal to the government to dock the ship.
The spokesman for the militia, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, said that his group would respond to any attempt to stop the shipment. The militia has been demanding autonomy and a share of oil revenues, and has formed a shadow government.
Libya's oil exports have dropped drastically after the militia took control.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rwanda's Foreign Minister says the government has expelled six South African diplomats.
She said on Twitter that the expulsions were in "reciprocity & concern at SA harboring of dissidents responsible for terrorist attacks in Rwanda."
A spokesman for South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Clayson Monyela, declined Saturday to discuss the expulsions.
Former Rwandan army chief of staff Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa fell out with Rwanda's government in 2010 and fled to South Africa where he was granted political asylum. Nyamwasa has survived at least two attempts on his life since 2010.
Nyamwasa's friend and former colleague, ex-Rwandan spy chief Col. Patrick Karegeya, who was also exiled in South Africa, was found strangled to death in a plush Johannesburg luxury hotel on Dec. 31, 2013.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — One of Nelson Mandela's closest confidants is still challenging the powers that be, with plenty of guidance from his ancestors, the ancient Greeks.
"Power, even in advanced democracies, is abused. It's part of life," said George Bizos, a Greek-born lawyer who defended Mandela at the 1960s trial in which the anti-apartheid leader was sentenced to life in prison.
After the end of white minority rule, many activists in South Africa branched into other fields or eventually retired. But 85-year-old Bizos, now an executor of Mandela's will, resists retiring from human rights work.
The advocate, who doesn't carry a mobile telephone and wears a big suit jacket that hangs loose on his shoulders, works for the Legal Resources Centre, a South African human rights group. He has hammered at police witnesses during an inquiry into the shooting deaths of several dozen protesters by police during a mine strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in 2012.
The legal warhorse has tousled white hair, a soft, sometimes quavering voice, describes himself as "computer-illiterate" and sprinkles remarks with references to ancient Greeks credited with building the foundations of democracy.
"I'm sorry to bring the Greeks into it," Bizos said last week. "But they claim democracy was a Greek invention."
Then he talked about Solon, the ancient leader whose constitutional reforms laid a framework for Athenian governance; Cleisthenes, who introduced more reforms; and Kimon, a statesman who fought the Persians. Bizos, who named a son after the latter luminary, connected the ancients with the present, warning that leaders use conflict as justification for curbing rights.
"The worst enemy of freedom is war and security," he said. Bizos spoke after receiving an award from the Free Market Foundation, a non-profit group that tries to craft solutions to poverty, unemployment and other problems in South Africa.
Bizos, who arrived as a 13-year-old fleeing the Nazi occupation of his country during World War II, considers himself Greek and South African to the core. In the thick of the South African struggle against apartheid, he drew on his roots a continent away. Children in Greece, he said, learn early about freedom.
"We were the slaves of the Ottoman Empire for 380 years," he said. "When you start on grade one about freedom, you get to like it."
He contributed to the transformation of South Africa, which turned from white racist rule to democracy on Mandela's watch. Bizos represented people who defied apartheid's harsh laws, the families of slain anti-apartheid activists, including Steve Biko, and helped write the laws of a new society after the end of apartheid in 1994.
The respected lawyer is credited with getting Mandela to add the words "if needs be" to the 1964 speech from the dock in which he said he was prepared to die for his ideals. The tweak was seen as an escape clause, avoiding any impression that Mandela was goading the court to impose the death penalty.
Last year, some of Mandela's relatives tried to oust Bizos and other directors of two companies whose funds are meant to benefit the family.
Bizos sometimes gets teary when talk turns to Mandela, his old friend, who died in December at age 95. Bizos said some South African leaders have fallen short of their commitments to uphold the ideals of reconciliation and sacrifice associated with the country's first black president.
"The idea that a legacy can be fulfilled to the Nth degree is too optimistic," he said. "But I do believe that we should remind them constantly of what the leader that they praise stood for."
Bizos cited Plato, who warned of tyranny's threat to democracy, and the divine gift of reason mentioned in Sophocles' play, Antigone. Mandela played the role of Creon, an authoritarian ruler, in a prison production of Antigone during apartheid.
In a 2011 speech, Bizos described how he visited Mandela's hotel room on a trip to Greece ahead of the Athens Olympics in 2004.
"The curtains had been drawn. I opened them and said, 'Nelson, come look.' Before us was a breathtaking view of the Parthenon," Bizos said. "He looked and looked and looked and said, 'George, why do I feel like I've been here before?' He couldn't explain it and neither could I. But I like to think that Mandela was simply impressed by all things Greek."
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's new defense minister says the country's northeastern Islamic uprising is "daunting but surmountable" and promises to make Nigeria safe.
Retired Gen. Aliyu Gusau takes up his new post as the much-criticized military reports success in repelling attacks by Islamic extremists it says are on the run. More than 400 people have been killed in attacks since February.
A Defense Ministry statement Friday says heightened and aggressive patrols continue while useful information is being gleaned from captured suspects including a "human butcher" who boasts of using only daggers and cutlasses.
Gusau, from the predominantly Muslim north, took up the reins Friday saying "The challenges are evidently daunting but surmountable." He promised there is a collective resolve to give Nigerians confidence "that the country is indeed a safe place for everyone."
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — During breaks in his murder trial, Oscar Pistorius sometimes confers intensely with his camp, murmuring in the ear of his chief defense lawyer. When witnesses testify, the double-amputee athlete takes notes or sits with hands clasped, occasionally covering his face, head bowed, as though troubled by the graphic accounts of how he fatally shot his girlfriend last year.
"Make way," hefty bodyguards bark at the end of the day as they usher 27-year-old Pistorius, who is free on bail, past jostling journalists and onlookers to a vehicle with tinted windows outside the courthouse in Pretoria, South Africa's capital.
The drama in the North Gauteng High Court captivates people around the world and especially South Africans, many of whom are getting a look at their own criminal justice system for the first time because, under a judge's rare order, much of the trial is being televised.
At its core is the shocking tale of a woman slain in the night. The court scene has also become a stew of fallen celebrity, media circus, quirky tradition and the legal parsing of words and memories under the stern oversight of a judge who on Friday warned people in the gallery they would be "chucked out" if they misbehaved. Some discussion seems numbingly repetitive; at other times, the atmosphere is on edge, for example when a doctor testified to seeing Pistorius weeping and praying over his bloodied girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
There is Pistorius' lead lawyer, Barry Roux, in a black gown, trying to cast doubt on the testimony of prosecution witnesses in what veterans say is standard cross-examination, and what many laymen perceive as a badgering, bullying performance.
"There's a design on your side to incriminate. And that's unfortunate. But we'll deal with it," Roux said Thursday to Charl Johnson, a neighbor who said he heard a woman's screams and then gunshots on the night that Pistorius killed Steenkamp.
Pistorius, the first amputee to run in the Olympics, has said he fired through a closed toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder in his home on Feb. 14, 2013; the prosecution alleges he intentionally killed her after an argument.
Chester Missing, a puppet character that satirizes South Africa on television, tweeted: "Next Roux will be cross examining the door: Can you be sure you were closed?"
Roux swings from sarcasm to borderline hostility to a kind of patronizing courtesy with prosecution witnesses, and shows theatrical deference for the red-gowned Judge Thokozile Masipa, a former crime reporter flanked by two assistants.
"My lady, I'm in your hands," he has said.
In a bow to tradition, the witnesses don't directly answer Roux and chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, instead responding "My Lady" as though they were having a conversation with the silent judge on the dais.
At one point, Nel accidentally addressed Masipa as "Madam," drawing laughs in the austere, wood-lined room and a bashful apology from the prosecutor.
Masipa, who will deliver a verdict because there is no jury under the South African system, has warned the media not to violate a court order that limits the broadcast of witness images as well as the use of camera flashes in the courtroom. She got irritated when a reporter's laptop made a piercing noise in court.
"Our whole justice system is on trial," said Marius du Toit, a criminal defense attorney who is not involved in the case. He said the trial gave "ordinary folk" an insight into South African justice, arguing it sets a benchmark even if most people would be unable to afford a legal team of the caliber that is defending Pistorius.
With all the scrutiny, some were surprised at a shaky performance by a court interpreter who was translating witness Michelle Burger's testimony in Afrikaans into English. Burger, a neighbor of Pistorius, later resorted to English after saying: "Some of the words are not what I am saying."
The courthouse is a boxy building with an iron rail fence in front. At lunchtime, Cafe Eden on the fourth floor fills up with lawyers, journalists and sometimes members of the Pistorius family or people connected to the Steenkamp family. The two camps don't interact.
Across the street is the colonnaded Palace of Justice, where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders were sentenced to life in prison in 1964. On the first day of the Pistorius trial, a small drone with cameras — presumably a media outlet's device to get ahead of the pack — buzzed past the majestic, 19th century structure in a melding of technology and history.
At the end of the trial's first week, a police officer explained why his unit had to be firm with people pressing for a glimpse of Pistorius.
"We must look after this guy," the officer said. "If we leave him alone, he won't survive."
BOR, South Sudan (AP) — Soldiers hit by bullets while fighting for rebel forces in South Sudan have not been able to receive needed medical care because they fear the government or military will kill them if they leave a U.N. base.
An Associated Press reporter spoke with three rebels in the U.N. camp in Bor this week whose gunshot wounds have not been treated.
Maj. Yun-Dae Kim, head of the Korean medical team attached to the U.N. in Bor, said not all gunshot wound victims have been able to be evacuated. The U.N. has decided letting them leave would not be safe.
South Sudan broke out in massive violence in mid-December. A military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen, said army orders are for all wounded, regardless of side, to be treated properly.
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's president has announced that he and his entire cabinet will take pay cuts as part of austerity measures to reduce his government's rising wage bill.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said Friday that he and Deputy President William Ruto will take a 20 percent pay cut while other members of his cabinet will see their pay reduced by 10 percent with immediate effect.
Kenyatta said a new policy will restrict foreign trips to only the most essential. He said rules will be enforced to ensure waste in government will be significantly reduced.
He said Kenya is spending close to $4.6 billion in salaries which leaves only $2.3 billion for development. He said if the country is not careful it will find itself using all revenue collected to pay wages.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Residents of a Muslim neighborhood in Central African Republic say three people were killed while trying to escape the country's sectarian violence.
Mahamadou Baba said the bodies had been brought to the Ali Bablo Mosque in Bangui late Friday afternoon in the PK5 neighborhood.
He said the three men had tried to go to the airport to take a flight out of the country but it was full. Christian militia fighters attacked their car when they were driving back home.
He said the imam was waiting for Red Cross officials to collect the bodies because it has become too dangerous for the mosque to conduct burials.
The violence rocking Central African Republic since early December has forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee the country.
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina says attacks by the opposition party and former rebel movement Renamo have displaced more than 6,000 people in the central parts of the country.
Vaquina told the Mozambican parliament Friday that armed attacks by Renamo have displaced 6,727 people in the central Gorongosa district alone.
An agreement signed between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party in Rome in 1992 ended a bitter 16-year civil war but violence flared up again in May when Renamo gunmen attacked a police station at Muxungue in central Mozambique, killing 5 police and injuring several others.
This was followed by government troops storming Stunjira in central Mozambique where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama was staying, killing a number of Renamo gunmen, and forcing the party leader to flee.
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambican officials warn that the country may suffer flooding in the central and southern parts of the country that could be worse than floods that ravaged large parts of the southern African country in 2000.
Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina flew over central Mozambique Friday to assess the situation and to urge people to avoid risky areas and to move to higher ground where possible.
The flooding threatens to cut off the capital Maputo in the south from the rest of the former Portuguese colony.
The Minister of State Administration Carmelita Namashulua said that so far the floods have claimed at least 17 lives and have destroyed thousands of acres of crops.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A doctor who said he saw Oscar Pistorius weeping over his dead or dying girlfriend after he shot her has resumed testimony in the murder trial of the double-amputee runner.
Radiologist Johan Stipp was being questioned by defense lawyer Barry Roux on Friday, a day after Stipp described how Pistorius knelt at Reeva Steenkamp's side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth.
Pistorius shot Steenkamp in the bathroom of his home before dawn on Feb. 14 last year. He says he fired after mistaking Steenkamp for an intruder; prosecutors allege the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after a loud argument.
HARGEISA, Somalia (AP) — Forensics experts are carefully uncovering bodies buried in mass graves in the northern edge of Somalia in the hopes of bringing comfort to the victims' families and justice to those responsible for the killings.
Kadar Ahmed, the chairman of the Somaliland War Crimes Investigation Commission, is overseeing teams that last year uncovered 38 bodies buried in two mass graves. Work is being carried out now on a third mass grave, where another dozen bodies are buried.
Ahmed says that many African countries try to forget about atrocities carried out in their pasts. He wants this northern tip of Somalia — a self-governing region called Somaliland — to confront those ghosts head-on.
An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people were killed in Somaliland by Somalia's dictator in the late 1980s.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian chief has told the Security Council that there is a "total breakdown of the state" in Central African Republic, where sectarian killing between Muslims and Christians occurs daily.
The council received a briefing from Valerie Amos as its members consider whether to approve the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission to the country.
Amos told the Security Council on Thursday that "state institutions that were weak have now totally collapsed" and the country depends on international aid.
Central African Republic has been chaotic since a March 2013 coup, and the violence has been splitting the country into Muslim and Christian areas.
The Security Council is considering a recommendation from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a nearly 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission.
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A human rights network says four young men convicted of having gay sex have been whipped publicly in an Islamic court in northern Nigeria.
Dorothy Aken'Ova of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights Network says the men will go to jail and face humiliation and beatings if rights organizations do not come up with an additional fine of 20,000 naira ($120) each meted out Thursday by a judge in Bauchi city.
She says the men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions were forced by law agents who beat them. Gays can be sentenced to death under Islamic Shariah law in force in some northern Nigerian states.
The four men were among dozens arrested after Nigeria strengthened laws against homosexuals in January.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's president has appointed a retired general from the mainly Muslim north to be the new minister of defense as the country confronts an increasing number of ever-deadlier attacks by Islamic extremists staging an uprising in the northeast.
Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a former military intelligence officer and presidential military adviser, takes the post amid mounting anger at the military's failure to suppress the rebellion. More than 300 people were killed last month and nearly 150 people this week alone.
Gusau was appointed Wednesday by President Goodluck Jonathan along with 10 other new Cabinet ministers.
The appointments come as Jonathan is believed to be positioning himself for elections next February amid defections by governing party members who say it is time for a Muslim northerner to be president.
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambique's main opposition party and former rebel movement, Renamo, has accused government forces of attacking its positions in the central province of Sofala.
Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchanga told a news conference in Maputo on Thursday that the attacks would hinder an understanding reached in talks between the two parties on an urgent need for an end to renewed hostilities between the old foes.
Responding to Renamo's claim, agriculture minister Jose Pacheco, who heads the government delegation at the ongoing talks between the two parties, said that on Monday Renamo gunmen attacked a police vehicle.
Pacheco said government forces defended themselves and are pursuing those responsible for the attack.
A 16-year civil war between the two factions ended in 1992 but hostilities between them flared again in May last year.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A neighbor of Oscar Pistorius has returned to the stand to give evidence in the star athlete's murder trial in South Africa.
Charl Johnson, who says he heard gunshots and a woman screaming on the night Pistorius killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, was testifying at Thursday's proceedings. Johnson left the stand Wednesday to retrieve some notes he said he made after Steenkamp's shooting death.
Lead defense lawyer Barry Roux was cross-examining Johnson, who lives around 177 meters (193 yards) from the house where Pistorius killed Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.
Pistorius, a double-amputee runner who competed at the 2012 Olympics, is charged with murder with premeditation after shooting Steenkamp through a toilet door. Pistorius says the killing was accidental because he thought she was an intruder in his home.
MBAIKI, Central African Republic (AP) — The swarm of people showed up on their deputy mayor's doorstep late on a Friday morning, just before the time of the Muslim prayers.
By then, it no longer mattered that he was the deputy mayor. It didn't matter that the mayor called him a brother, or that his family had lived in Mbaiki for almost a century. It didn't even matter that his wife was seven months pregnant.
It mattered only that he was Muslim.
The fate of Saleh Dido shows how far the violence in the Central African Republic has gone, redefining who belongs here by their religion alone. It poses a deeply troubling question in a nation where hundreds of Muslims have been killed in just a few months: If even a prominent local official interviewed by a prominent Western aid group could not be saved in his own hometown, who can?
No police officer tried to stop the attack on Dido. No resident helped him as he ran to escape. And by the time the peacekeepers arrived, it was too late.
"Dido's killing is a stain on the world's moral conscience," said Joanne Mariner, a senior crisis adviser with Amnesty International who had spoken with him several times. "It's terribly disappointing that the community — including his neighbors — didn't protect him."
Mariner noted that many Christians who have tried to help Muslims were threatened themselves, and that Dido trusted the international community to protect him. But nobody did.
Mbaiki is a small town sixty miles south of the capital of Central African Republic, a country of 4.6 million people torn apart by intercommunal violence since early December.
Dido's family had lived in Mbaiki for generations, part of a Muslim minority in Central African Republic of about 15 percent. However, his ancestors hailed from Chad to the north - sharing the same roots as the Muslim rebels who overthrew the country's government in March last year.
Many of these rebels were paid to torture and kill civilians. So when the rebel-backed government fell apart in January, retaliatory attacks against Muslims escalated. As the threat of carnage grew, thousands of Muslims fled Mbaiki in convoys.
Not Dido. The 46-year-old lanky father of seven still proudly wore his deputy mayor label pin. He vowed to carry on his duties. People started to call him the last Muslim of Mbaiki.
"I was born here; I had my children here," he told the French newspaper Le Monde in mid-February. "I have been at the mayor's office for five years. I took an oath. I am patriotic — why should I leave? I want to live in my country."
When the French defense minister came to visit Mbaiki, the mayor called Dido "a brother" and promised the community would protect him.
On Feb. 10, Christians who wanted Dido gone looted his store. Dido lectured the mobs that they were stealing not only his things but the future of Central African Republic.
Then the Muslim mayor of another community was killed, and the tension mounted. Dido's brother-in-law begged him to leave, friends say.
He refused. He even invited a fellow Muslim traveling to the capital to stay at his home.
For the Christians of his community, that was the final straw. The word spread — not only was Dido refusing to leave, he was encouraging other Muslims to come back.
On Feb. 28, a crowd of nearly 100 people turned up at his home, according to witness accounts.
"All the other Muslims have left. Why are you still there?" they demanded.
What happened next is disputed. Some neighbors allege Dido fired arrows into the crowd first, wounding several people. Others say he did so only in a desperate attempt to defend his life.
Then he began to run.
The path to the police station took him a mile (2 kilometers) uphill, past dozens of tin roof homes and phone-charging shacks. No one tried to help.
The mob chased him, armed with knives. Panting and exhausted, he made it to the roundabout a few hundred meters (yards) from the police station. There, as he caught his breath, the crowd descended on him.
They ripped off his clothes. They slit his throat. They attacked him repeatedly until his head nearly fell off. One woman even cut off his genitals.
Two police officers were there. But the attackers threatened to harm the families of anyone who sheltered Muslims, so they did nothing. Police commandant Yvon Bemakassoui declined to discuss the case.
By the time peacekeepers from the Republic of Congo arrived, Dido was dead. His corpse lay in a drainage ditch on the side of the road.
The peacekeepers arrested 22 people, including five women, and handed them over to the police. Photos show the suspects lying face down on the ground.
They all were set free. Most escaped into the jungle forest outside town, residents say. Nobody was charged.
In the meantime, neighbors had ferried Dido's family to the safety of a Catholic church. The Congolese peacekeepers took them to the capital, where his widow is now weeks away from giving birth.
There is one other Muslim man in Mbaiki, who thought he was safe because his family is not from Chad. But after Dido's death, he is preparing to spend a few months with his children in the capital.
Is there a future for Muslims here? He cannot say. Once his laundry dries, he plans to pack.
Men still walk about Mbaiki in traditional Muslim gowns and white prayer caps. But they are not Muslims. They are parading about in clothing stolen from the pillaged shops of Muslims like Dido.
Mbaiki's two mosques lie in ruins. Christians stripped the metal roof off one to sell, and now the early rains have flooded it.
The looters have also descended upon Dido's house. The concrete structure is reduced to rubble. On a recent afternoon, small children helped strip what remained of his blue Toyota four-by-four for parts.
In the end, even in death, Dido never got his wish to stay in Mbaiki. The Red Cross buried his body in another town three miles away.
There are no longer any Muslims in that town either.
Follow Krista Larson on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/klarsonafrica
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African police say there has been another unsuccessful attempt on the life of a former Rwandan army chief of staff who has been living in exile in the country for the past four years.
Capt. Paul Ramaloko, spokesman for the special police investigative unit the Hawks, said Wednesday there were no injuries in the attack on Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa's Johannesburg residence on Tuesday because no one was home. He said he was unable to provide any further details.
This is the third attempt on Nyamwasa's life. The former top aide to Rwanda's president, turned critic, survived two other attempts in 2010.
Nyamwasa's friend and colleague, former Rwandan spymaster Col. Patrick Karegeya, was assassinated in a plush Johannesburg hotel in December.
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Heavy artillery and machine gun fire is echoing throughout the capital of South Sudan after violence broke out.
Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said Wednesday that the fighting broke out over an administrative pay issue but that the problem had been contained.
Fighting, however, could still be heard around the military barracks where violence first broke out in mid-December and escalated into country-wide conflict that continues today.
Soldiers are being quickly ferried around the city on the backs of trucks. Shops on a main street in the city have closed amid a general increase in security personnel.
In Ethiopia, a leader for opposition forces said that mutineers in the army on Wednesday had pledged their allegiance to the country's former vice president, who commands rebel forces.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A neighbor of Oscar Pistorius is testifying on the third day of the murder trial of the double-amputee athlete, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day last year.
Charl Johnson resumed his testimony on Wednesday after telling the court a day earlier that he heard screams and gunshots on the night that Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp. Johnson's wife, Michelle Burger, had given similar testimony and at one point broke down in tears because of what she said was the memory of the terrified screams of a woman.
Pistorius talked briefly with his chief lawyer, Barry Roux, before proceedings started. Members of Steenkamp's family, including her cousin Kim, were in the court.
Pistorius has said the shooting was an accident.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African TV channel has apologized for broadcasting an image of a witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial after the woman requested that she not be shown.
News channel eNCA says it used the picture of state witness Michelle Burger in a broadcast while she was giving testimony Tuesday. The channel says the photo was "sourced" from the website of the University of Pretoria, where Burger works as a lecturer.
It said it was a "bad judgment call" to use the photo and apologized to the court, the parties and to Burger for an "unfortunate incident."
A judge ruled last week that images of some witnesses could not be shown if they objected, as Burger did. The trial judge ordered an investigation.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Officials say Islamic militants have burned 11 people to death inside their homes in northeastern Nigeria, where frequent attacks have claimed at least 130 lives in the past four days alone.
The attack late Monday on Jakana village in Borno state occurred about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from a village where 39 people were slaughtered on Saturday, said Nigerian Senator Ahmed Zannah.
Violence has escalated in recent weeks in three northeastern Nigerian states that have been under emergency rule for over nine months.
Officials and residents blame the attacks on Boko Haram, an Islamic insurgent group that has killed thousands of people in the past four and a half years.
Zannah said Tuesday that residents in Jakana had been warned of an attack, and many there and in neighboring villages had fled into the bush before the gunfire began. The victims, he says, were all too old to flee.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's Department of State services says it has arrested seven suspected Islamic militants in connection with the killing of a pro-Western sheik who preached against Islamic extremism, his wife and their son.
The three, including Sheik Adam Albani, were shot dead on Feb. 1 in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria as they drove home from Albani's theology lecture.
Officials say he was killed because his "pro-Western posture and his preaching are contrary to the Boko Haram ideology." Boko Haram is an Islamic militia in Nigeria that has killed thousands of people in an insurgency that began more than four years ago. Officials said Monday the suspects are Boko Haram members from five different Nigerian states.
Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin," and Albani was known for encouraging his followers to seek Western education.
KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian police say three policemen have been killed by suspected Islamic militants in Katsina, a northern state outside the region in which the militants usually operate.
Police spokesman Aminu Abubakar says they were killed Monday while pursuing four gunmen on motorcycles who attacked a checkpoint on a road from Katsina to Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city.
Three states in northern Nigeria have been under emergency rule for nine months due to massacres by suspected Islamic militants. Over the last weekend alone, more than 120 people were killed in three separate attacks in northern Nigeria.
Officials and residents blame Boko Haram, a militant group that preaches a harsh version of Islamic law and has killed thousands in 4 1/2 years of insurgency.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — After a weekend of violence, officials say 32 people were killed in an attack on the northern Nigerian village of Mafa Sunday night, after soldiers fled the area, outgunned by suspected Islamist insurgents.
Thatched roofs were set ablaze as gunmen rolled into town shooting at about 8 p.m., witnesses say. All homes, shops and government buildings were destroyed. Senator Ahmed Zannah says two police officers were also killed in a bomb blast early Monday, as they attempted to rescue other victims.
The destruction comes after bombings and shootouts on Saturday evening in Borno State, Nigeria that killed nearly 100 people.
Zannah says a week before the attack most Mafa residents fled their homes after leaflets were dropped in the village, warning of imminent danger. He said seven soldiers in Borno are also believed to be missing.
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The United Nations Environmental Program is marking the U.N.'s first ever World Wildlife Day to raise awareness about an illicit global trade in illegal timber, elephant ivory and rhino horns worth an estimated $19 billion.
UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said Monday that World Wildlife Day can help remind the world that humans living on Earth today will determine if endangered species will survive and be seen by future generations.
Paula Khumbu, the executive director of the group Wildlife Direct, said she fears that elephants, rhinos and lions could be extinct by 2030. Poachers have increasingly been targeting elephants and rhinos for a growing consumer class in Asia.
Steiner said China is working to stop the illegal importation of ivory but that the country is vast with a large border.
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambique agriculture minister Jose Pacheco says that more than 300,000 people in the southern African state face famine this year.
Speaking on state radio on Sunday, Pacheco said the famine, which affects mainly the central and southern regions of Mozambique, has been caused by various factors, including drought, flooding and insect plagues.
Crops are also being destroyed by wild animals, such as elephants and hippos.
Pacheco said the government is developing mechanisms to help peasant farmers produce more food. These include arranging financial packages to enable farmers to buy fertilizers and agricultural implements and to help them irrigate their fields.
The government has also secured $100 million from Brazil for agricultural machinery to boost agriculture in the country.
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — President Uhuru Kenyatta is leading Kenyans in celebrating the Oscar victory of Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie "12 Years A Slave."
Kenyatta on Twitter Monday told Nyong'o: "You are the pride of Africa."
On Sunday, the day of the Oscars, Kenyatta issued a statement saying Lupita's accomplishment testifies not only to her talent but also her determination and willingness to go that extra mile which success unfailingly demands.
Social media sites Facebook and Twitter are awash with congratulatory messages from Kenyans for Nyong'o.
Kenyan film director and critic Ogova Ondego, while celebrating the win of Nyong'o, criticized Kenya's government and people for not supporting the arts.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A female judge will ultimately decide Oscar Pistorius' fate and pronounce him innocent or guilty of murder in his girlfriend's shooting death on Valentine's Day last year. South Africa has no trial by jury meaning Judge Thokozile Masipa will have the final say in the blockbuster court case. A look at the judge and some other main players in the Pistorius trial:
Judge Thokozile Masipa will preside over the biggest and most closely-watched case in her career when Pistorius goes on trial for murder in Reeva Steenkamp's shooting death. Masipa has 15 years' experience as a judge, but was once a reporter with a South African newspaper before turning to law. Her appointment to oversee and ultimately judge Pistorius' case will satisfy both prosecution and defense, legal experts say, because of her reputation for being unwaveringly fair. She was the second black woman to be appointed a judge in South Africa, according to the South African Press Association.
While she has become a figure of intense interest, South Africa's department of justice has warned reporters not to attempt to contact her during Pistorius' trial. Masipa will be aided by two assessors whom she has appointed but who have not yet been named. In South Africa, judges are sometimes helped by assessors, often experts in criminal law who can help the judge reach a verdict but have limited roles in the trial. South Africa abolished juries in criminal trials in 1969.
Gerrie Nel is considered South Africa's top state prosecutor. He secured a conviction for corruption against former South African police chief Jackie Selebi, one of the country's biggest cases before Pistorius killed Steenkamp. Nel is described as a master of presenting evidence by legal analysts. In Pistorius' bail hearing last year, Nel painted a picture of Pistorius as a man who was "willing and ready to fire and kill" and Steenkamp as cowering, terrified and hiding in the toilet before Pistorius shot through the toilet door to kill her.
"She couldn't go anywhere," Nel said in court last February. "It must have been horrific."
Described even by other attorneys as South Africa's best defense lawyer, Barry Roux's cross-examination of police detective Hilton Botha in Pistorius' bail hearing last February was so extensive that Botha, who was later removed from the case, had to concede that nothing about Pistorius' version of events could be disproved at the time.
Roux, an attorney for about 30 years, also succeeded in getting the court to agree to release Pistorius on bail of 1 million rand (then $113,000) despite the fact that the double-amputee athlete was charged with premeditated murder. He also got another court to relax some of Pistorius' strict bail conditions on appeal.
Oscar Pistorius is now probably the world's best-known track athlete. Initially a poster boy for disabled sport, Pistorius' ability to also run alongside the best able-bodied athletes made him a sportsman whose endorsement was purchased by international brands like Nike. A multiple Paralympic champion and record-breaker, Pistorius is still the only amputee to run at the world championships and the Olympics.
He is also the defendant in a murder trial and faces a possible life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison before the possibility of parole if convicted. Other aspects of Pistorius' life have been scrutinized since he killed Steenkamp, especially that he was also a gun enthusiast and collector and owned a 9 mm Parabellum pistol for self-defense and was pursuing licenses for six more guns, including an assault rifle.
Reeva Steenkamp was a model and reality TV star, but also a law graduate. The 29-year-old had been dating Pistorius for only a few months when she was killed by the Olympic athlete. They were introduced by mutual friends in late 2012 and decided to attend an awards ceremony together the day after. Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, have talked about her dedication to fighting domestic abuse rather than her modeling career and said she intended to open a shelter for abused women.
Her parents will now start a foundation to help "the poor and abused" in her memory, they said.
THE TOP COP:
After Hilton Botha's bungled testimony in the bail hearing and the revelation that he was facing charges of attempted murder himself, Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo was appointed to take over as the head police investigator in the Pistorius shooting. Moonoo was described by South Africa's national police commissioner as the country's No. 1 detective. He is not listed by the prosecution as one of its witnesses but has overseen the investigation for the last year. He is renowned for avoiding the limelight, according to South African crime reporters who say he has rarely given media interviews.
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, set to open Monday, marks the start of a dramatic new chapter in the life of the double-amputee athlete who ran at the Olympics and became a global star before he shot his girlfriend to death last year.
Prosecutors charged the 27-year-old Pistorius with the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp. They say they will seek a life sentence if Pistorius is convicted, the sternest punishment available in South Africa, which does not have the death penalty.
If convicted on the murder charge, Pistorius could be sent to prison for at least 25 years before the chance of parole, the minimum time someone must serve if given a life sentence in South Africa. He would be older than 50 before he could be released.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A TV channel dedicated to the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has gone on air in South Africa just over 12 hours before the double-amputee Olympian is expected in court.
The 24-hour channel, called "The Oscar Pistorius Trial - A Carte Blanche channel" is on South Africa's most popular cable TV network and intends to show live video from the court from Monday. The cable company is one of the three broadcasters which asked a judge to allow live coverage of the trial and has installed three remote-controlled cameras in the courtroom in Pretoria.
The channel was up and running Sunday night and hosted by a well-known South African presenter. It dedicated some its early programming to the life of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman Pistorius shot dead at his home.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Prosecutors have named 107 witnesses they can call at Oscar Pistorius' trial. Here's a look at some of them and what they might testify about:
WHO SCREAMED AND WHEN?
Did Steenkamp scream before she was shot? Prosecutors maintain they have witnesses who will testify to events that contradict Pistorius' story and suggest there was an argument before she was shot dead. Twenty people — neighbors, security guards and other workers — who are connected to the gated estate where Pistorius lived are on the witness list. Witnesses "heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming," prosecutors say in indictment papers. Pistorius says that he was the only person to scream before shooting Steenkamp through the toilet door and he did that to tell any intruder he thought was there to get out of his house.
Was Pistorius walking on his stumps, as he says, vulnerable and fearful when he shot? What do the grouping of the shots fired through the door and the trajectory of the fatal bullets show?
Prosecutors allege that Pistorius fired with a cold intention to kill and not in the way someone who was panicked and trying to make an intruder leave his home would. Bullet holes close together could show that he didn't fire a warning shot as someone might when acting in self-defense. Blood spatter experts will say what position Steenkamp was in when she was hit by the three bullets and whether she was on the toilet or hiding behind the door — maybe hiding from Pistorius.
Prosecutors have at least 10 criminal experts listed as witnesses, including forensic and ballistics specialists and criminal psychologists, but also may have to concede that Pistorius had not put on his prosthetic legs, as they maintained, if the bullet holes are lower down. That could be a blow to the state's case as they say he put on his legs while planning the killing.
PISTORIUS: RECKLESS — OR WORSE — WITH GUNS?
Pistorius' past behavior with guns will almost certainly be scrutinized after prosecutors indicated they will add two other firearm-related charges. The details of the charges, not yet clarified, reportedly revolve around one incident when Pistorius allegedly fired a gun out of the sunroof of a car and another event, weeks before the killing, when he fired a gun by mistake in a restaurant.
In the first, Pistorius allegedly fired angrily out the sunroof after an altercation with traffic police in 2012. Samantha Taylor, Pistorius' ex-girlfriend, and friend Darren Fresco are believed to have also been in the car and are witnesses.
Pistorius' uncle Arnold, brother Carl and sister Aimee are witnesses for the state, as are some of his friends, with prosecutors alleging that Pistorius may have made up his story and then phoned family and friends after the shooting. Who did Pistorius speak to after the shooting and what did he say? Pistorius doesn't mention calling or speaking with family or friends directly after the shooting.
FIRST ON THE SCENE
Pistorius named Johan Stander, a manager at his gated estate, as the first person he called to get an ambulance after shooting Steenkamp. Pistorius says he then called paramedics. An unnamed doctor who lives nearby arrived at Pistorius' home with Stander, the athlete says, and their testimony on Pistorius' demeanor could be enlightening. Prosecutors say it was security guards who Pistorius first "walked into" when he carried a dying Steenkamp downstairs.
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A toilet door, a gun, an iPhone — and some prosthetic legs. A stray bullet and the difference between a man and a woman screaming. All are pieces of the Oscar Pistorius puzzle that will likely be scrutinized at the Olympian's murder trial starting Monday.
A glance at some of the possible evidence:
THE TOILET DOOR
Pivotal from the outset, the bullet-marked toilet door through which Pistorius shot was removed from his home in the hours after he killed Steenkamp and was held by police. It was taken back to the house last year to be re-hung while forensic experts working for Pistorius' defense recreated the scene. Both sides know its value.
If grouped together, the bullet holes could suggest Pistorius at no point fired a warning shot and therefore may not have been thinking about self-defense but rather had a direct intention to kill. Even if he can show he didn't know it was Steenkamp behind the door, Pistorius could still be found guilty of murder, legal experts say, because he shot with intention to kill someone.
And what about the stray bullet? Investigators initially missed one bullet that did not hit Steenkamp and which was later found in the toilet bowl. Pistorius fired four times and she was hit three times, in the head, arm and hip. Could this bullet be the warning shot to show Pistorius was trying to warn an intruder? A hole in the door may tell.
The height of Pistorius' prosthetic legs will show how tall he stands when he is using them and how much lower he is when on his stumps. If that is matched with the height of the holes in the door and eventual trajectory of the shots into the toilet cubicle it should conclude whether Pistorius was or was not wearing his prosthetics. It's important because the two sides disagree. Pistorius says he was only on his stumps. Prosecutors say he took the time to put on his prosthetic legs before killing Steenkamp, and therefore had time to plan a murder. Proof either way will help one side and harm the other.
THE IPHONE AND A 'SMOKING GUN'
Investigators have been chasing information on Pistorius' locked iPhone for months and may have finally accessed it in the days ahead of his trial through a meeting with Apple officials in the U.S. Is Pistorius' claim that he forgot the password to his phone suspicious and an attempt to hide something? And what about the records on Steenkamp's phone, also found among a number of cellphones in the bathroom?
Communication with third parties on cellphones hinting that Pistorius' was angry or that Steenkamp was fearful could be the 'smoking gun' that shows that all was not well between the couple.
Little has been revealed about where and in what condition Pistorius' 9 mm Parabellum pistol was found after the killing but prosecutors think those details help their case and show it was murder.
Pistorius says he screamed for the perceived intruder to get out of his house before shooting, but Steenkamp was silent throughout. Prosecutors say a woman was heard screaming before the fatal shots. If it can be shown that a woman was screaming, then the suggestion is that Pistorius must have known where Steenkamp was and can't have shot her by mistake, and that they were fighting. But if the defense can cast doubt on claims of screaming and an argument, as Pistorius lawyer Barry Roux did at the bail hearing, the prosecution loses a significant part of its case.
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — It could all hinge on the toilet door.
Oscar Pistorius goes on trial for murder on Monday, but some experts not involved in the case say the double-amputee runner could still be vulnerable to a homicide conviction even if he is acquitted of murdering his girlfriend. That's because, they say, he violated the most basic tenets of gun-handling by shooting into a closed door without knowing — at least, by his account — who was behind it.
South Africa's criminal justice system and gun culture will be under a global spotlight during the Pistorius trial, which has some parallels with the O.J. Simpson case in the United States 20 years ago because of the celebrity factor, the sensational allegations and the fascination of people around the world. Parts of the trial will be broadcast live on television, adding to the scrutiny. Simpson's trial for the killing of his ex-wife and a man was televised in its entirety.
But in one glaring difference, Pistorius acknowledges he killed the victim. The Olympian says he thought Reeva Steenkamp was a nighttime intruder in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14 last year; the prosecution maintains he intentionally shot her several times in the bathroom after an argument.
"They don't have to prove that this glove belongs to O.J. Simpson because it fits his hand," said Marius du Toit, a former prosecutor, magistrate and now criminal defense lawyer. "We know there's only one person who caused Reeva's death."
Du Toit was referring to the leather glove that was found at the scene where Simpson's ex-wife and a man were killed in 1994. The glove seemed too tight when Simpson tried it on in court, prompting a defense lawyer to say: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Simpson was acquitted by a jury.
But prosecutors in the Pistorius case have an edge, said du Toit: "Any person that has admitted to killing another person in circumstances when your actions are unlawful will face a steep hurdle in getting off scot-free."
South Africa has stringent laws regulating the use of lethal force for self-protection. In order to get a permit to own a firearm, applicants must not only know those rules but must demonstrate proficiency with the weapon and knowledge of its safe handling, making it far tougher to legally own a gun in South Africa than many other countries where a mere background check suffices.
Pistorius took such a competency test for his 9 mm pistol and passed it, according to the South African Police Service's National Firearms Center. He therefore should have known that firing through a closed door cannot be viewed in South African law as an accident, according to Andre Pretorius, president of the Professional Firearm Trainers Council, a regulatory body for South African firearms instructors.
Criminal law experts believe that if the prosecution fails to prove premeditated murder, firing several shots through a closed door could bring a conviction for the lesser charge of culpable homicide, a South African equivalent of manslaughter covering unintentional deaths through negligence.
Sentences in such cases range from fines to prison. They are left to courts to determine and are not set by fixed guidelines.
Another key piece of evidence will be the blood spatter analysis on the inside of the toilet cubicle, according to J.C. de Klerk, a ballistics expert who used to work for the South African police. He said it could give an indication of Steenkamp's position when she was shot, including whether she was sitting on the toilet, or hiding behind the door as prosecutors likely suspect.
The "back spatter and front spatter" could also indicate the sequence of shots as they hit Steenkamp and whether there were exit wounds, de Klerk said. But such hard data and other factors, such as the trajectory of the bullets when they were fired, cannot support Pistorius' argument that he was responding to what he thought was an imminent threat.
"It's only him," de Klerk said. "We're only going to rely on what he actually says. There's no scientific evidence that's going to prove that his life was in danger."
Other key evidence could emerge from the mobile phones of Steenkamp and Pistorius that were found in his house. South African prosecutors have sought help from Apple officials to access the locked iPhone of Pistorius, who said he forgot the password.
Parts of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial can be broadcast live on television by three remote-controlled cameras in court, but testimony given by Pistorius cannot be shown. Judge Dunstan Mlambo, who made the decision to allow broadcasting, said he had weighed up arguments for a fair trial from the Pistorius camp with principles of open justice and freedom of expression.
Mlambo showed "an awareness of the competing considerations at play," said Justice Edwin Cameron of South Africa's Constitutional Court. He declined to comment directly on the ruling, but said he favored cameras in appellate courts.
"We haven't yet done it here" at the Constitutional Court, Cameron said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "But my colleagues have agreed to think about it and we're in the process of exploring ways of doing it."
Trial judge Thokozile Masipa, who will decide the verdict in the Pistorius case, will be assisted by two assessors. Cameron described such individuals as "often highly experienced people, often retired regional court magistrates who have dealt their whole professional lives with criminal cases, and are very astute in assessing probabilities, in judging credibility of witnesses and in applying the criminal procedure act."
South Africa abolished the jury system in 1969 following arguments that whites-only juries during apartheid would be unlikely to deliver fair verdicts involving, for example, a white perpetrator and a black victim.
"It was a system riddled with racism, as it was in the American south," Cameron said.
Race is unlikely to be a factor in the Pistorius trial in post-apartheid South Africa, say experts, who suggest the case is likely to focus on the forensic evidence surrounding the toilet door, data from cell phones and on the character of the defendant.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Red Cross: Nigerian death toll rises to 51 killed in twin car bomb blasts in Maiduguri .
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Witnesses say two explosions blasted a crowded marketplace in northeastern Maiduguri city, and many are feared killed and wounded in the birthplace of Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network.
Survivors say bloodied people are screaming for help and some people were blown apart.
Trader Mallam Samaila said it appeared to be a car bomb in a pickup truck loaded with wood. He said the second explosion caught people trying to help those injured in the first blast.
Smoke is billowing from buildings in the Bintu-Suga neighborhood of the city's Ngomari suburb.
The first attack in months in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, follows an increasing number of ever-deadlier attacks in neighboring Yobe and Adamawa states. More than 300 people have been killed this month in attacks in the northeastern Islamic uprising.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Oscar Pistorius' family says they will not be distracted by any "extraneous issues" as the spotlight shines intensely on the double-amputee Olympian just days before his murder trial.
Pistorius' family said in a statement Saturday that the legal process "must now be allowed to unfold" and they will limit their public comments on the trial.
The statement, attributed to Pistorius' uncle Arnold Pistorius, says "the focus is now entirely on a very serious trial that is set to start this Monday. We love Oscar, and believe in him, and will be standing by him throughout the coming trial."
Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14 last year. He faces a possible life sentence with 25 years before parole if convicted.
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The World Bank has announced a $1.2 billion package to support Tunisia's economic reforms and stumbling economy.
After Tunisians overthrew their dictator in 2011, the economy contracted by 2 percent. Growth since has been slowed by social unrest and the economic crisis in Europe, its main trading partner. Unemployment is around 17 percent.
The World Bank aid announced Friday involves $750 million to support government reforms to promote growth and create employment. Another $300 million is earmarked for decentralization projects to aid the impoverished interior.
A line of credit for $100 million has been created for small and medium enterprises.
Bank Vice President Inger Andersen told state television said the money should be for those who need it, not just the state. Another $50 million will be to promote exports.
SHUWA, Nigeria (AP) — A soldier angered by a speech a state governor gave in an area of Nigeria where nearly 100 people were killed by Islamic militants has opened fire, causing pandemonium.
In his visit to Shuwa town Friday, Gov. Murtala Nyako said security is degenerating in northeast Nigeria, not improving as the military has claimed, and that President Goodluck Jonathan's handling of the crisis is "toying with people's fate."
Shortly after the speech, the soldier fired into the air. No one was injured, but people jumped into ditches and cars screeched to a halt, apparently fearing another attack by Boko Haram militants.
Residents of Shuwa said outnumbered soldiers fled the area and left them at the mercy of the militants who killed at least 33 people there Wednesday and 59 on Tuesday.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — France's president says the hundreds of troops dispatched to volatile Central African Republic are there to help keep the country from breaking apart.
The visit Friday by President Francois Hollande comes days after the French parliament voted to prolong the country's mission in its former colony wracked by violence between Christians and Muslims.
It was Hollande's second trip to the country since France boosted its troop levels here to 1,600 in December. Three months later, France has promised another 400 soldiers.
With a European force of 1,000 on the way and African forces already there, Hollande said a total of 9,000 soldiers would be in place to "end the score settling, re-establish the government's authority, allow dialogue and avoid that the slightest attempt to partition Central African Republic."
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Newly released video shows Oscar Pistorius, who faces a murder trial next week, firing weapons at a gun range before the double-amputee athlete fatally shot his girlfriend last year.
Sky News on Friday broadcast footage of Pistorius firing a shotgun and using a pistol to shoot a watermelon, which bursts on impact. Delighted screams and laughter are heard in the background.
Sky News is also broadcasting audio of a man it says "sounds very much" like Pistorius who comments on the shattered watermelon. The man says: "It's a lot softer than brain but... it's like a zombie stopper."
Pistorius' trial starts Monday. The prosecution says Pistorius had a fight with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before killing her in his home last year. He says he mistook her for a nighttime intruder.
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The World Bank in Uganda says a project for which it is delaying a loan doesn't face an immediate shortage of money, allaying concerns that work to improve maternal and child health services could stall.
A severe anti-gay law signed by Uganda's president has upset the country's relationship with donors. The World Bank has postponed a $90 million loan.
Spokeswoman Sheila Gashishiri said Friday that the project run by Uganda's Health Ministry will continue despite the postponement.
At least 16 Ugandan women die in childbirth daily, a shocking statistic that made the project critical in the East African country.
The project was launched in 2010 and is set to close in 2015.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Does forgiveness lead to a better society? Or are some crimes so atrocious that the perpetrators should not be forgiven? South Africa faced these difficult questions after apartheid ended two decades ago, and confronts them again as the government considers parole this year for a notorious death squad leader who worked for the white racist government.
Eugene de Kock, head of a covert police unit that tortured and killed dozens of anti-apartheid militants, was arrested in 1994, confessed to crimes and was sentenced in 1996 to two life terms plus another 212 years. After 20 years in jail, he says he is the only member of the former police force serving time for crimes committed on behalf of South Africa's old order and maintains he acted on instructions from leaders who were never punished.
"Not one of the previous Generals, or Ministers who were in Cabinet up to 1990, have been prosecuted at all," he said in an affidavit signed in January as part of his parole application.
Julian Knight, de Kock's lawyer, said he is pushing for a parole decision this month. He speculated that the government might delay the decision, timing it to celebrations later this year of South Africa's 20th anniversary of democracy, or until after May elections to minimize "any negative fallout."
De Kock's case revives debate about South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which recommended amnesty to some who recounted wrongdoing during apartheid and showed remorse. The goal was to promote reconciliation by allowing the cruelties of the past to be examined, for victims to face repentant human rights violators and seek closure.
But some South Africans, including the family of slain activist Steve Biko, believe that more apartheid-era enforcers should have been punished. Lobbying for prosecutions continues.
And a group that represents 85,000 victims of apartheid says a state plan to pay reparations is inadequate and far behind schedule.
De Kock contacted the group Khulumani — the word means "Speaking out" in Zulu — over the years to offer to meet people who suffered at the hands of apartheid's agents, said Marjorie Jobson, the group's director.
"It was the most relief that I ever saw anybody get," Jobson said of bereaved relatives who visited de Kock in prison in hopes he would shed light on the deaths of family members.
Now 65, de Kock cooperated with the 1990s hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was pardoned for some crimes, but was convicted on murder and other charges linked to his role as head of the C10 police unit stationed at Vlakplaas, a farm west of Pretoria, the capital.
De Kock's possible release doesn't matter to Lizzie Sefolo, who met the assassin in prison. Her husband, Harold, was abducted and killed by de Kock's team in 1987. His body and those of two other victims were blown up by a landmine in an attempt to disguise the cause of death.
"They can punish him. They can release him," Sefolo said. "I won't gain a thing from that because I've lost."
She said: "I did bury my husband and so that made a closure to my husband because I know where my husband lies. Other people are still waiting to know. They don't know where to go."
The minister of correctional services is considering numerous parole applications, including that of de Kock, ministry spokesman Logan Maistry said.
"Each case is judged on its own merits," Maistry said.
De Kock sought parole last year, but was rejected.
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission member and now a senior research professor at South Africa's University of the Free State, wrote a book called "A Human Being Died That Night," which is based on jailhouse interviews with de Kock in the late 1990s. She believes he deserves freedom for cooperating with authorities and family members, and showing remorse after meditating on his own terrible deeds.
But she acknowledged the mixed feelings still felt by many South Africans 20 years after the brutal system of apartheid collapsed: "There are victims and family members of victims out there who are still angry and who have not been able to heal. The challenge is, how do you grant a person who has committed these deeds pardon when there are so many people suffering?"
WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Shell Nigeria says it has closed a 6,000-kilometer (3,700-mile) oil pipeline to repair leaks from oil theft.
Shell recently threatened to close the Nembe Creek Trunk Line because of repeated sabotage. It carries about 60,000 barrels daily for Africa's biggest oil producer.
Spokesman Precious Okolobo said Thursday the line was shut Sunday for repairs to several "crude theft points."
Thefts of up to 200,000 barrels a day are blamed on villagers who have lost arable land and fishing grounds to oil spills and militants demanding a more equitable share of oil revenues. But the biggest offenders are believed to be politically-connected syndicates who sell the crude on the international market.
Human rights activists charge Shell sometimes blames sabotage for leaks caused by erosion on aging pipelines to avoid compensating villagers.
MALAKAL, South Sudan (AP) — House after house has been burned to the ground. Armed rebels shot patients dead in their beds. Dozens of corpses lie in the streets throughout town.
Col. Jan Hoff, an officer in Norway's army, said the attacks in South Sudan are about revenge. He said: "There is no humanity here."
Human Rights Watch said Thursday that both government and rebel forces are responsible for serious abuses that may amount to war crimes in Malakal and Bentiu, capitals of oil-producing states.
The group said armed forces from both sides of the conflict have extensively looted and destroyed civilian property, including desperately needed aid facilities.
In Malakal, the smell of death and sight of destruction overwhelms. Inside the hospital is a scattering of dead bodies, including those executed in their beds.
YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — Survivors say soldiers fled and left five villages and a town at the mercy of Islamic extremists who killed 13 people and bombed a theological school in attacks in northeast Nigeria.
The latest violence in an Islamic uprising comes amid widespread criticism of military failures including from Senate president David Mark who questioned how "this mayhem persists ... under emergency rule when security operatives are on red alert."
A pastor said outnumbered and outgunned soldiers abandoned checkpoints and fled into the bush when extremist fighters attacked villages and a town in Adamawa state for several hours Wednesday night.
At least 59 students were killed in a school attack in neighboring Yobe state Tuesday.
Nigeria began official centenary celebrations Thursday of the unification of the mainly Muslim north and Christian south.
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Police in Somalia's capital say a suicide car bomb blast at a tea shop near the country's intelligence agency has killed at least eight people.
Police Capt. Mohammed Hussein said the death toll was eight. The tea shop is frequented by members of Somalia's intelligence unit.
The al-Qaida-linked group al-Shabab has increased the frequency of attacks in Somalia's capital in recent weeks, raising the specter of a return to daily violence.
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