Boko Haram: Rampage may spell defeat for Nigeria president

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150410aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — Buba Ibrahim's belief that President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to stem Boko Haram's rampage throughout the country could spell defeat in the presidential election here Saturday.

"We saw them come into town riding on several motorcycles and shooting in the air," said Ibrahim, 35, recalling when the Islamic extremists overran his hometown in northern Nigeria last year. "They rode into the market that was filled to capacity, shooting and killing indiscriminately."

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As Ebola: Eases, Sierra Leone still struggles to recover

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141002aa001.jpegLOKOMASAMA, Sierra Leone — This time of year, traders usually are busy buying rice and other foodstuffs from towns in the swampy inland valleys north of Freetown, the capital of this poor country.

But the rampaging Ebola epidemic first reported exactly a year ago has snuffed out that commerce, along with the lives of 3,629 Sierra Leoneans, according to the latest World Health Organization data.

Read more at The Washington Times

Boko Haram: Haunts kids, 'I wish I could also have died'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa001.jpegBAGA SOLA, Chad — Memories of Boko Haram's murderous spree in his Nigerian hometown haunt Tom Gowon, 9, as he sits on a patch of grass at a refugee camp, sipping steaming porridge from a plastic mug.

"I was lucky because I was not killed," said Gowon, recalling the assault on Baga, Nigeria, in early January. "But they shot and killed my father. My mother was kidnapped by the militants."

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Baby trafficking: Is a lucrative business in Kenya

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_civ120607aa001.jpegNAIROBI, Kenya — In this country of widespread poverty, one of the most lucrative businesses is also one of the most heartbreaking: baby trafficking.

It is common in Kayole, a slum in the capital here, for gangs to steal or buy infants from mothers who are told their child had died or who can't afford to have more children.

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Witch hunts: Increase in Tanzania as albino deaths jump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150227aa001.jpegTABORA, Tanzania — Many women are living in fear in this rural part of northwestern Tanzania because they are increasingly being targeted by witch hunts — literally.

This East African country is grappling with an upswing in vigilante justice as villagers attack women they believe are witches responsible for the murders of albinos, whose white skin some believe possess magical powers.

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Nigerians skeptical: Vote delay will aid Boko Haram fight

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150710aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — As he shined shoes in Nyanya, a bustling neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, Umaru Sani explained why he will vote against President Goodluck Jonathan next month.

"How can I vote for such a person who could only add to my woes?" asked Sani, 27, who fled to Abuja after the militant Islamic group Boko Haram overran his hometown of Michika in northern Nigeria six months ago.

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Joseph Kony: Warlord eludes capture in Uganda


GULU, Uganda — Not a day passes that Patricia Akello Wamoyi doesn’t relive the violence inflicted on her family and community by Joseph Kony and his militant cult, the Lord's Resistance Army, 13 years ago.

Her husband’s spirit doesn’t let her forget.

Read more at The Washington Times

Fear lingers: In Mali despite no new Ebola cases


BAMAKO, Mali — A 17-year-old boy hawking disinfectant soap on the streets of this capital city says his business has grown as Malians have taken to washing their hands throughout the day.

"It's because of Ebola," Yacouba Bamaba said.

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Ebola plays: Scrooge on Sierra Leone Christmas


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The annual Christmas parade has been canceled, shoppers are scarce, no one is going to holiday parties, and even decorations are missing.

In this tiny West African country, blame Ebola for playing Scrooge.

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Radio educates: Sierra Leone amid Ebola lockdown


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — At this time of year, 12-year-old Joseph Sheriff should be sitting in a classroom with other students in this capital city. Instead, he's at home, frantically scribbling notes and listening intently to his family's small radio.

With Sierra Leone on lockdown as the deadly Ebola virus continues to spread throughout West Africa, authorities here are keeping schools shuttered, forcing Joseph and 1.7 million children like him to stay home. 

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Voices: Ebola establishes dictatorship in Sierra Leone

SLE140411AK002FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE — Since the Ebola outbreak began in May, Sierra Leone has become an authoritarian state. It's not one dominated by politicians, religious leaders, the army or the police – it's a dictatorship by virus. Ebola has taken over everyone's thoughts, actions, just about everything.

This notion struck me as I washed my hands. Authorities have wisely set up hand-washing stations everywhere to prevent the spread of Ebola. The stations reinforce the new codes of behavior that dominate what was once an easygoing, multicultural country — avoiding handshakes, avoiding crowded spaces, avoiding family, avoiding friends.

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Liberian slum: Ebola quarantine magnifies misery

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141104aa001.jpegMONROVIA, Liberia — Emily Abaleo, 38, sits on a narrow bench, squashed between her snoring son and two younger daughters who pass the time by elbowing one another in this city's West Point slum. She recalls better times there, before a deadly virus hit, before a quarantine to stop it and before it killed her husband.

B.E., or Before Ebola, was a time just a few short months ago before everything changed and life here in the slum became even harder.

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Boko Haram: Denies truce, says kidnapped girls married

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141023aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — The leader of Nigeria's Islamist extremist group dashed hopes for the release of 200 kidnapped girls Saturday, denying reports of a truce with the government.

In a new video message, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says the schoolgirls have converted to Islam and married off. "The issue of the girls is long forgotten because I have long ago married them off," he says, laughing.

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Ebola: nations' neighbors enact preventions amid worry

NGA Ebola Infection ControlDAKAR, Senegal – Everywhere in this capital city, signs are on display exhorting people to wash their hands with soap. In Ivory Coast, the government has asked residents to stop their customary three-kiss hello. In Mali, travelers entering the country have their temperatures taken. In Guinea-Bissau, the Red Cross broadcasts a weekly radio program on how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Because all four nations border the three West African countries hit by the worst Ebola epidemic in history, each is taking extraordinary measures to prevent its spread within its territory.

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Ebola's spread: To Mali sets back effort to halt virus

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegBAMAKO, Mali — The first death from Ebola in this West African nation raised concerns Friday about whether the country would have more success in stemming the deadly virus than its hard-hit neighbors in the region.

The 2-year-old female Ebola patient — who died Friday — traveled from neighboring Guinea, one of the most devastated countries in the crisis. Because Mali borders that nation, health officials had warned it was particularly vulnerable to the virus' spread.

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Oscar Pistorius: Sentenced to five years in prison

b_160_0_16777215_00_images_ZAF130225AA001.jpegJOHANNESBURG — South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to prison for five years Tuesday for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend, less than half the time he could have received following his manslaughter conviction last month.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said a long sentence would show a lack of mercy toward Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner" for racing on prosthetic legs. She suspended a separate three-year sentence for an unrelated firearms charge.

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Boko Haram: Agrees to cease-fire, may release schoolgirls

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141023aa001.jpegLAGOS, Nigeria — More than 200 missing schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram may be released as part of an immediate cease-fire agreement with Nigerian officials, the government said Friday.

"The insurgents have assured the government that all those in their captivity, including the missing Chibok girls, are well and alive," Mike Omeri, the government spokesman, said in a statement. "They have also promised to release them without attaching any condition."

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Orphans abandoned: Shunned in Africa's Ebola crisis


MONROVIA, Liberia — Ever since Frank Mulbah's mother died of Ebola in August, no one will go near him.

"I went to my relatives after my mother died, but they chased me away, even after I told them that I didn't have Ebola," said Frank, 12, who tested negative for Ebola at the hospital where his mother died.

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Nigeria succeeds: In containing Ebola

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegLAGOS, Nigeria — People here are shaking hands again, kissing, hugging, touching. These days, shops are open, people are working, and children are finally going back to school.

That's because Nigeria — Africa's most populous country — is officially Ebola-free, the health ministry said, even as the deadly virus rages on in neighboring countries, where lockdowns and quarantines are common and death rates are rising.

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Ebola burial: Teams in Sierra Leone go back to work


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Burial teams responsible for collecting the corpses of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone returned to work Wednesday, one day after going on strike because of a delay in receiving hazard pay.

Members of the teams receive $100 a week on top of their regular salary for working under extremely dangerous conditions but say they had not been paid in weeks. The Ebola burial teams are comprised of 600 workers in groups of 12 per team.

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Ebola also: Killing West African commerce

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SSD130415AA003.jpegFREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Mabinty Suma sells fish, vegetables and cooking oil along the once-packed Lumley Beach here in Sierra Leone's capital. Business is usually brisk, but not lately.

"The Ebola situation has made things difficult for me," said Suma, 34, who supports her family selling food items. "I can't move as usual across the border. In fact, business is just static, as customers are few these days — some of my most reliable customers have left the country."

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West Africans: Welcome U.S. effort to fight Ebola

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegFREETOWN, Sierra Leone – West Africans expressed gratitude for President Obama's pledge to send U.S. troops to fight the Ebola outbreak, but some feared that countries on the periphery of the crisis would be overlooked.

When Ibrahim Moiwo heard of Obama's announcement that he will send troops and other aid to fight the disease, "I felt relieved that the disease will soon be a thing of the past," said the Freetown mechanic, 45. "No support is too small in the fight against Ebola, which is gradually destroying our country."

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Oscar Pistorius: Found guilty of 'culpable homicide'


JOHANNESBURG — A South African judge on Friday convicted athlete Oscar Pistorius of "culpable homicide" in the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

A conviction of culpable homicide, the term for manslaughter in South Africa, carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. Pistorius had already been cleared of murdering Steenkamp.

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Somalis wary: Of attacks as new terror leader chosen


MOGADISHU, Somalia — A year ago, Somalis dared to hope this troubled east African country had turned a corner, leaving behind the chaos and violence of a past marred by terrorism.

Now, residents are bracing for fresh attacks as extremists seek revenge following the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane — leader of the militant group al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked organization in Africa — this week by a U.S. airstrike.

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Nigeria scrambles: To contain Ebola


LAGOS, Nigeria — Africa's most populous country is scrambling to avoid the fate of nearby nations that have failed to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

An epidemic could devastate Nigeria's economy and overrun its meager health facilities. That's why the country has taken drastic measures to contain the spread of Ebola since Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer brought the virus to Lagos on a flight from Liberia on July 20.

Read more at USA Today

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