- - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NIGERIA

2 die in sect attack; police kill suspect

MAIDUGURI |Authorities said that a broad-daylight attack in Nigeria’s restive northeast left three dead days before election polls open.

Borno state’s new police chief, Michael Zuokumor, said three motorcycle-mounted gunmen killed two passers-by Wednesday in the city of Maiduguri and that a suspect was shot dead after a police chase.

Chief Zuokomor said he suspects the attackers are members of a radical Muslim sect locally known as Boko Haram. The police blame the group for a rash of attacks that have left more than a dozen police officers and soldiers dead since July.



He said the police would “pursue them until [we] get them.”

Chief Zuokomor took his position last week, after Nigeria’s national police chief reshuffled state chiefs ahead of crucial April polls to prevent partisanship.

SOMALIA

Forces will push out insurgents within year

MOGADISHU | Somalia’s prime minister said government forces and African Union peacekeepers can take back control of the country’s ruined capital from Islamist insurgents within a year.

The Somali transitional government, which is backed by about 9,000 African Union troops, now controls about half of the capital city, although violence is still frequent in the capital.

The Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab controls the other half and much of south-central Somalia.

Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said his government needs more time beyond the end of its mandate in August to fight the militants.

The U.N. has called for the government to step down in August.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Former president dies in hospital

DOUALA, Cameroon | Ange-Felix Patasse, who led the desperately poor Central African Republic for a decade before being ousted in a 2003 coup, died at a hospital in neighboring Cameroon, officials said. He was 74.

Mr. Patasse returned from exile in late 2009 and finished second in January’s presidential election. He lost to current President Francois Bozize, who had overthrown Mr. Patasse as head of an insurgent army that seized the capital in a hail of mortar fire.

Spokesman Guy-Simplice Kodegue said Tuesday that the cause of the former president’s death was unknown, while hospital officials said he died of complications from diabetes.

Mr. Patasse had been blocked from leaving the country for medical treatment on two occasions but had been allowed to depart on Saturday, Mr. Kodegue said.

Mr. Patasse served in several positions as minister and then prime minister under former dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa, before becoming president in 1993 and winning re-election in 1999.

Opponents though accused Mr. Patasse of rampant corruption, and he survived repeated coup attempts as well as military mutinies over unpaid salaries and labor disputes.

In 2003, he was toppled in a coup while outside the country and went into exile in Togo. Thousands of citizens could be seen ransacking Mr. Patasse’s lavish private residence, shouting “Patasse out!” as the invading fighters looked on.

Mr. Patasse was born in Paoua in the Central African Republic and was the country’s last surviving former president.

The Central African Republic has suffered five coups and a myriad of army mutinies since independence from France 50 years ago.

Despite the nation’s wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, Mr. Bozize’s corruption-addled government remains perpetually cash-strapped. Its authority is limited mostly to the capital while armed bandits and insurgents roam the anarchic countryside.

NAMIBIA

Floods kill 62, displace thousands

JOHANNESBURG | The United Nations said 62 people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes since the start of the year by flooding in northern Namibia.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.N. Children’s Fund said the numbers could “dramatically increase” soon.

U.N. officials in Namibia said a new wave of water is expected from Angola, and the forecast is for more rains in northern Namibia in the coming days.

UNICEF said northern Namibia is already vulnerable. It is among the most densely populated and poorest parts of the country, with a high number of people carrying the AIDS virus.

UNICEF said one in every 15 children dies before reaching the age of 5 in the region.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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