U.S. troops now in 4 African countries
NAIROBI — A top military official said U.S. troops now are deployed in four central African countries as part of U.S. efforts against a brutal rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, the top U.S. special-operations commander for Africa, said Wednesday that U.S. troops are stationed in bases in Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
The U.S. announced in October that it was sending about 100 U.S. troops - mostly special-operations forces - to central Africa to advise in the fight against the LRA and its leader, Joseph Kony.
Adm. Losey said officials already are seeing a decrease in the lethality of LRA actions, which he thinks is part of the pressure the U.S. and partner countries are applying.
U.N. votes to increase African force in Somalia
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize an increase in the African Union force in Somalia from 12,000 to about 17,700 and expand its areas of operation in an effort to intensify pressure on al-Shabab militants who recently joined al Qaeda.
As part of its strategy to weaken al-Shabab, the council also ordered a ban on the export and import of charcoal from Somalia, calling the fuel "a significant revenue source" for the militant group.
The council adopted the resolution on the eve of a conference on Somalia on Thursday in London, where senior representatives from more than 40 governments and international organizations are expected to adopt a new approach to the country's myriad problems.
Women tricked into Malaysian sex work
KAMPALA — Ugandan officials are scrambling to act on an envoy's report that more than 600 Ugandan girls are trapped in Malaysian prostitution rings with no easy way out.
Advertisements pinned on the walls of shopping malls in Uganda's capital promise young women a free ticket to a well-paying job in Malaysia as a nanny, maid or bartender. But the advertisements are a trap.
Uganda's honorary consul in Kuala Lumpur said in a report released last week that up to 10 Ugandans are trafficked to Malaysia daily and at least three have been killed there in the past two years.
The U.S. State Department said in its 2011 report that Uganda "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."
Witness describes attack on exiled Rwandan
JOHANNESBURG — A witness testified that days before an exiled Rwandan army general was shot and wounded in South Africa, two of the men charged in the shooting were plotting another attempt on his life.
The witness testified Wednesday in the trial of three Rwandans and three Tanzanians accused of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons charges in the June 2010 shooting of Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
The witness, Adriani Kamali, was once a roommate of one of the defendants.
Rwandan authorities deny allegations of involvement that have been made by Rwandan President Paul Kagame's opponents.
Prosecutors won't say whether they believe Mr. Kagame's government was behind plots against Gen. Nyamwasa. But they have said key witnesses are under police protection in South Africa because they fear Rwanda's government.
Kenya blames militants for food crisis
TABDA — An 80-year-old Somali woman fondly recalled her younger days. There was peace in Somalia then, and people in this town of Tabda in the arid scrublands of the country's south did not rely on the mercy of others for food.
Khadra Muhamud Aden said food supplies to the area are running low because fighting between Kenyan troops and the al Qaeda-affiliated Somali militant group al-Shabab is blocking food from the Kenyan border and the Somali port of Kismayo.
Officials said Somalia's south is now in the beginning stages of a humanitarian crisis because they are not getting the needed supplies, and they urged more relief agencies to step in.
The Kenyan army blames al-Shabab for the blockage and says it is also slowing the army's advance toward Kismayo.
Instead of fighting forward against the militants, troops are delivering food aid to those in need in an attempt to win favor in areas that were controlled by al-Shabab until recently.
Kenya sent hundreds of troops into Somalia in October to pursue al-Shabab militants whom it accuses of cross-border attacks and the kidnapping of 10 Kenyans and four Europeans, which threatened to destroy Kenya's tourism industry, a key source of revenue for the economy.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports