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Briefly: Human rights group reports on abuses in Mali

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MALI

BAMAKO — The West African state of Mali is suffering its worst crisis in half a century after a coup in the capital and a rebel takeover in the country's north, an international human rights group said in a report released Wednesday.

Amnesty International documents a host of human rights abuses committed in the country including summary executions, arbitrary detentions and sexual assaults including rape.

The rights group says that all parties to the conflict are believed to be responsible for human rights violations. The north of Mali was taken over by a mix of Tuareg separatist forces and Islamist fighters in late March.

Government forces, left in disarray after a coup in Bamako just a week before, fled the north without putting up resistance.

Within days, the Islamist fighters had seized control of the three largest towns in the north, including fabled Timbuktu, and have since attempted to impose Shariah law.

ZIMBABWE

Politician nabbed for stealing truck at auto show

HARARE — State prosecutors say an opposition politician at a Ford Motor Co. car show got into the latest model on display and drove it away. He faces car theft charges in court next month.

Court papers made available Wednesday say police arrested 38-year-old Aaron Muzungu, an official of a small opposition splinter group, after he clocked up more than 800 miles in the new Ford Ranger pickup truck.

Prosecutors said the politician claimed he was interested in buying the pickup. When he sat in it, the keys were in the ignition.

KENYA

Al Qaeda suspects hit nightclub in Mombasa

NAIROBI — Suspected terrorists denied entry to a nightclub in the coastal town Mombasa fired shots and detonated four grenades outside the lounge, killing a security guard and wounding five people, including one of the assailants, police officials said Wednesday.

The attack was the second explosion Tuesday blamed on Kenyan recruits of an al Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia.

Aggrey Adoli, the police chief on Kenya's coast, said the guard died in the hospital while five people were receiving treatment for wounds from Tuesday night's attack.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said they have arrested a hospital patient who they believe was involved in the attack.

In Tuesday's other attack, one policeman was killed and four others were seriously wounded when the car they were traveling in was hit by a suspected roadside bomb at the world's largest refugee camp, near the Kenyan-Somali border.

SOUTH AFRICA

Vietnamese man arrested with rhino horns

JOHANNESBURG — Police officers tipped off by an anonymous informer forced their way into a Johannesburg apartment where they found 10 rhinoceros horns and an elephant tusk and arrested a Vietnamese man, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Vish Naidoo said the man will appear Friday in court on charges that include illegal possession of rhino horn.

Rhino poaching in South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, and across Africa has reached crisis levels. Major markets for the horn are China and Vietnam, where some believe it has medicinal qualities.

ZIMBABWE

U.S. vows to retain sanctions on Mugabe

JOHANNESBURG — The United States vowed Thursday to retain sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and dozens of top officials until there are signs of permanent political reforms.

"The U.S. continues to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe and will do so until we believe that substantial and irreversible progress has been made in the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement," said Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African affairs, in a telephone news conference.

The United States slapped sanctions against more than 50 government, military and ruling party officials in protest over controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by Mr. Mugabe's government.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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