- - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SOUTH SUDAN

Rebel group declares cease-fire

KHARTOUM — A South Sudan rebel group led by renegade Gen. Peter Gadet has agreed to an unconditional cease-fire and is committed to talks on merging its troops with the army, its spokesman said Wednesday.

“We are declaring a cease-fire, and we are also accepting the amnesty offered by the president as the basis of talks with the government of South Sudan,” Bol Gatkouth told Agence France-Presse, speaking on behalf of the heavily armed militia group.

“The decision came after pressure from our international friends, and the call of the South Sudanese people that the government is serious about reconciliation,” Mr. Gatkouth added, speaking by phone from Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

He said the rebel group, which is based in South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state, numbers “roughly 10,000 men” and that the delegation he was heading had just arrived from Nairobi, where it met South Sudanese officials.

The fledgling country declared independence from the north July 9, but it faces a host of daunting challenges, among the greatest of which is the threat posed by the numerous militias within its borders.

Clashes between the army and the rebels in states across the country have left hundreds dead this year.

SOMALIA

Militia bleeds guns across Kenya border

DHOBLEY — Somalis with new uniforms and guns, reportedly purchased by Kenya’s government, are supposed to be guarding the Kenya-Somalia border against Islamist insurgents.

But some are selling their weapons and are even preying on Somalis fleeing their famine-stricken country.

This new breed of gunman and the proliferation of weapons is making the trek from Somalia’s parched landscape even more dangerous for thousands of defenseless refugees.

They endure days- and weeks-long walks to refugee camps and their promise of food, but many starve along the way.

Some parents arrive carrying children so malnourished they look like tiny aliens, swollen heads lolling on stick-thin necks. Others arrive with empty arms, having left dead sons and daughters on the road behind them.

NIGER

10 soldiers arrested after foiled coup

NIAMEY — Niger security forces arrested 10 soldiers on charges of trying to overthrow the government last month, President Mahamadou Issoufou said late Tuesday in his first public mention of the alleged attempted coup.

The West African state, a top uranium supplier to France’s nuclear industry and also one of the world’s poorest countries, has suffered three military overthrows in a decade, including one last year that toppled former President Mamadou Tandja.

“Ten of those who had sought to undermine the security of the state on the night of July 12 to 13 are under arrest and another remains on the loose,” Mr. Issoufou said in a televised address, meant to mark the nation’s 51st anniversary since declaring independence from France.

He said the group, which he identified only as members of the military, had a “dream of being head of state just long enough to get their hands on the public finances.” He did not give details of the foiled plot.

Military sources told Reuters that the men arrested included members of the junta that had toppled Mr. Tandja in February 2010 and had paved the way to the elections that brought Mr. Issoufou to power this year.

ZIMBABWE

14 die in second bus crash

HARARE — At least 14 people were killed after a minibus crashed in Zimbabwe, the second deadly accident involving an overcrowded bus in the southern African country this week, state radio reported Wednesday.

Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said the minibus carried nine more passengers than its licensed capacity. State radio said the bus burst a rear tire Tuesday and overturned twice about 120 miles east of the capital, Harare.

Tuesday’s crash brings to 33 the number of passengers killed in bus wrecks in the country in three days.

On Saturday, 19 people died when a rear wheel of their 16-seater bus broke off. Police reported 29 people had crammed into that vehicle.

SOUTH AFRICA

Honeymoon murder trial postponed until September

CAPE TOWN — An official says the trial for the alleged killers of a bride murdered on her South Africa honeymoon will be postponed because of concerns that one of the accused is medically unfit for trial.

Xolile Mngeni and his co-accused, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, are charged with the murder of 28-year-old Anni Dewani. She was found fatally shot in an abandoned taxi in Cape Town’s impoverished Gugulethu township in November.

Mr. Mngeni’s defense attorney said his client was still undergoing medical tests Tuesday after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Court proceedings had already been postponed in June to assess his condition.

Mr. Mngeni’s attorney says the trial is now set to begin Sept. 20.

A British judge is expected to determine August 10 if 31-year-old Shrien Dewani will be extradited to South Africa to face charges for allegedly hiring the men to kill his wife.

NIGERIA

14 travelers killed after bus robbery

LAGOS — Nigerian police say 14 people were killed when a bus ran over them after their bus was robbed on its way to the capital.

Police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi said Wednesday that robbers stopped the overnight bus early Tuesday and made passengers disembark and lie down on the highway leading to Abuja. Another bus ran over them and drove off.

Mr. Okasanmi said rescuers found 14 bodies and that dozens of other passengers who boarded the bus in the commercial heartbeat of Lagos are still missing.

It takes about 11 hours to cover the some 340 miles between Lagos and Abuja.

The route is becoming more popular due to the rising cost of air travel in the West African nation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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