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ZIMBABWE

Mugabe threatens takeover of firms

HARARE | President Robert Mugabe threatened on Wednesday to take over foreign firms and boycott foreign products to retaliate against Western sanctions placed on him and his ZANU-PF party.

The European Union and United States cited human rights abuses and widespread election fraud as they imposed financial sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and top members of his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, a Mugabe loyalist accused Navi Pillay, head of the U.N. human rights agency, of bias for criticizing the authoritarian president over his repression of political opponents.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa denounced Ms. Pillay at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

NIGERIA

Muslim cleric arrested after posters defaced

LAGOS | Nigerian police on Wednesday said they arrested a prominent Muslim cleric and four others accused of defacing campaign posters of the president and his running mate in the country’s restive northwest.

Federal police spokesman Olusola Amore said that Abubakar Jibril was arrested Monday in the city of Sokoto. He said Mr. Jibril and four others had painted over President Goodluck Jonathan’s posters and were “saying all sorts of things to incite the public.”

The arrest comes ahead of April polls in which Mr. Jonathan, a Christian from the south, is running for re-election.

CONGO

Rebels step up attacks on civilians

KINSHASA | A U.N. official says a brutal Ugandan-led rebel group has intensified attacks, killings and kidnappings in Congo’s volatile northeast.

U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Celine Schmitt said this week that the Lord’s Resistance Army has killed 35 people, kidnapped 104 and displaced more than 17,000 since January. She counted 52 raids by the group in 2011. Local officials confirmed that attacks had increased.

Last year, Uganda said the number of soldiers in the shadowy group had dwindled to the low hundreds. The rebels are known for vicious attacks against civilians, for abducting and forcing children to become members of the group and for brutally torturing others.

SOUTHERN SUDAN

Dozens die in conflict with rebels

JUBA | Fighting in a tense area of south Sudan last weekend killed dozens of people only weeks after about 240 people died in violence in the same area, two officials said Wednesday.

The clashes could destabilize what is soon to be the world’s newest country.

Rebel leader George Athor said his forces fought with the southern military on Sunday in south Sudan’s Jonglei state. The spokesman for the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army, Col. Philip Aguer, confirmed that the fighting took place.

Mr. Athor said 110 people died in the fighting. Most were southern soldiers, but 12 were civilians, he said. Col. Aguer said about 40 were killed. He didn’t specify if they were soldiers or civilians, but he called Mr. Athor’s toll an exaggeration.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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