- - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Study finds massive sexual violence on women

KINSHASA — More than 400,000 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo every year, according to a study by U.S. researchers published on Wednesday.

Congo, which has a population of around 60 million, has endured decades of conflict characterized by the use of brutal sexual violence against civilians, with mass rapes still regular in the largely lawless eastern provinces.

The study, which used nationwide data collected by the government in 2006 and 2007, found that on average 1,100 women were raped every day in the vast central African country.



About 60 percent of victims were forced to have sex by their husbands or partners, it said.

SOMALIA

Muslim terrorists seize peaceful town in Puntland

MOGADISHU — At least 25 people were killed on Wednesday when hundreds of Islamist insurgent fighters briefly seized a town in a region of northern Somalia that is usually relatively peaceful, an official said.

Islamists temporarily seized the town of Gal Gala, 25 miles southwest of the port of Bosasso, the commercial hub of the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland, said Puntland’s minister of security, Gen. Yusuf Ahmed Khayr. He said the government regained control of the town.

Puntland is relatively peaceful compared to south-central Somalia, and foreign aid workers and businessmen are usually able to operate there.

UGANDA

Anti-gay bill off agenda after outcry

KAMPALA — Uganda’s parliament appeared Wednesday to have dropped plans to debate a controversial anti-gay bill after a global outcry from U.S. leaders, human rights groups and an Internet campaign.

The bill was first proposed in 2009 but wasn’t debated until last week. It had been scheduled to be debated before the full parliament on Wednesday but was dropped from the schedule.

The future of the bill remained murky. The original bill mandated the death penalty for some homosexual activities, but a revised version removed that penalty.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

President invites foes to study constitutional reforms

MALABO — Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian ruler on Wednesday invited four opponents to study constitutional reforms as Africa’s third-longest-serving leader pledged to free up the political system.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979, announced the decision in a presidential decree on national radio.

Although the country is Africa’s third-largest oil producer, its population remains largely impoverished. Anti-corruption watchdogs have accused the president of using an oil boom to enrich his regime at the expense of the population.

NIGERIA

President launches probe into election violence

ABUJA — Nigeria’s president on Wednesday gave experts six weeks to explain what led to the spate of election-related violence that marred a series of polls that had burnished the democratic image of the oil-rich West African nation.

A wave of riots that spread across northern states after the April 16 presidential election left at least 500 dead and more than 40,000 people displaced.

President Goodluck Jonathan told journalists Wednesday that a committee would determine how many people died, what led to the violence and where rioters got their weapons.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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