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Briefly: Senior Islamist killed, 156 arrested in raids

- - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NIGERIA

KANO — Nigeria's military said it killed a senior Boko Haram leader and arrested 156 suspected members of the group during a weekend raid in northeastern Adamawa state.

"In the three-day operation, the town was placed under 24-hour curfew, which enabled soldiers to comb the nooks and corners," said Lt. Saleh Mohammed Buba, military spokesman in Adamawa.

"A total of 156 suspects were rounded up in raids of suspected [Boko Haram] hideouts. A sect commander known as Abubakar Yola who went by the alias Abu Jihad was shot dead in a shootout while trying to flee," he added.

The operation was carried out in the town of Mubi, not far from the city of Maiduguri in neighboring Borno state, which is considered the base of the Islamist group that is blamed for killing more than 1,400 people in Nigeria since 2010.

Lt. Buba said about 300 explosive devices were discovered in what he described as an armory, where about two dozen AK-47 assault rifles also were being stored.

The military has claimed a series of successes against the group during weekend operations in several cities in the northeast, the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency.

However, previous such raids have failed to stop Boko Haram and resulted in accusations of major abuses by soldiers.

ZIMBABWE

City officials urge all to flush together

HARARE — Bulawayo city officials are urging all residents to join the "big flush" to help Zimbabwe's second city clear toilet waste that has accumulated in sewers during days of water outages.

Bulawayo city spokeswoman Nesisa Mpofu said residents are asked to flush their toilets simultaneously at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. She said residents can flush at other times, too.

Many householders mistakenly thought they could only flush on Mondays and Thursdays. Ms. Mpofu said the city does not want toilets to be stagnant for days.

Zibusiso Dube, spokesman for Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, said his group welcomed any plan to reduce the number of sewer bursts in the city of more than 1 million people.

SUDAN

Sudan says progress made in talks with South Sudan

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Sudan says significant progress is being made in talks with South Sudan, as negotiations over their shared border entered a fourth day Wednesday.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir are skipping the U.N. General Assembly in New York to stay at talks being held in Ethiopia's capital.

The two leaders have met since late Tuesday but have not yet achieved a breakthrough agreement.

El-Obeid Morawah, a spokesman for Sudan's Foreign Ministry, said late Tuesday that obstacles remain in the talks over the oil-rich Abyei region and a buffer border zone.

He said the talks are hard but that there is political will on both sides to reach resolution.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan last year after decades of war. Their shared border was never totally agreed upon.

SOUTH AFRICA

Gold miners' strike halts company's operations

JOHANNESBURG — Disruptions to South Africa's key mining sector increased as AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. said Wednesday that strikers have halted all its operations in the country, which provide 32 percent of the multinational's gold production.

Strikes demanding higher salaries began at a Lonmin Platinum mine Aug. 10, and have spread to several others in the mining sector vital to Africa's largest economy. Anglo American Platinum workers have been striking for weeks.

The labor unrest moved Monday to the transport sector, with a major union saying 20,000 road freight employees are demanding a 12 percent pay rise.

AngloGold Ashanti spokesman Alan Fine said strikers prevented Tuesday's night shift from starting at the company's West Wits and Vaal River operations. They joined co-workers who downed tools at AngloGold's Kopanang mine on Sept. 20.

Mr. Fine said the strikers, who are among 36,000 workers at the three sites, have not yet made demands.

Hundreds of Anglo American Platinum Mine workers gathered at the Bleskop stadium near Rustenburg on Wednesday to discuss the new terms they've given Amplats.

Workers on Tuesday met with mine management, and said they now demand a monthly take home pay of $1,560. Strike leader Gaddafi Mdoda said that the company will have seven days to respond, and the strikes will continue.

Amplats called the strikes illegal in a statement released Wednesday, and threatened disciplinary action for employees who "persist in unlawful strike action" on Thursday.

IVORY COAST

Britain urged to probe Trafigura scandal

ABIDJAN — The British government is being urged by Amnesty International and Greenpeace to investigate possible criminal charges against the multinational company Trafigura over the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast that is blamed for several deaths and sickening thousands.

In Ivory Coast, the 2006 waste disposal in Abidjan has come to represent the arrogance of the Western world toward the African continent.

A three-year investigation by Amnesty International and Greenpeace published Tuesday points to "clear evidence that at least part of the decision-making process on export of the waste from Europe and delivery to Abidjan emanated from London," making U.K. prosecutions feasible.

The report calls for the United Kingdom to undertake criminal investigations against Trafigura Beheer BV, a Dutch multinational commodity trading company.

It also urges Ivory Coast to review a 2007 decision that gave Trafigura immunity from prosecution on Ivorian soil, and to probe how compensation from an out-of-court settlement in the U.K. was allowed to be misappropriated.

Britain's government responded Tuesday, saying it would be inappropriate for the U.K. to launch an investigation because the vessel involved was not registered in the U.K. and the waste wasn't loaded in or originating from the U.K.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Poaching of baby gorillas raises fears for species

KINSHASA — The plight of two infant gorillas, rescued after being kidnapped from their wild families, highlights the dangers confronting the endangered Grauer's gorillas that have become victims of ongoing violence and a new rebellion in eastern Congo.

A decision to allow oil exploration in a national park there may put the gorillas at greater risk.

Virunga National Park said Monday that wildlife authorities rescued the two baby gorillas this month.

"Baby gorilla trafficking is terribly damaging for endangered gorilla populations because many members of the gorilla's family will probably have been killed to obtain the infant," said the park's director, Emmanuel de Merode.

Fighting between rival militia groups is making it impossible for wildlife authorities to find out how many of the Grauer's gorillas have been killed. Grauer's, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, exist only in eastern Congo. Experts estimate that fewer than 4,000 remain, down from about 17,000 in 1995, Mr. de Merode said in a statement.

The poaching comes as the park itself faces oil exploration. Congo's Hydrocarbons Minister Crispin Atama Tabe announced Monday that the government is authorizing a British company to explore for oil in the park, Africa's oldest created in 1925 under Belgian rule.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports