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France denies Somali bombardment, admits helping Kenya
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Oct 24, 2011

France is providing limited logistical support to Kenya's offensive against Islamist rebels in Somalia, the defence ministry said Monday, formally denying a French warship had bombarded the Somali coast.

"Following a request from the Kenyan authorities, we are providing logistical support with a Transall (transport plane) that is taking Kenyan material from Nairobi to an airport in northern Kenya," near the Somali border, ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard told AFP.

The support will be provided up to Tuesday and is "limited in space and time, within Kenyan territory," Burkhard said.

"I formally deny" reports that a French warship had taken part in a bombardment of the Somali coast as had been claimed by a Kenyan military spokesman, Burkhard said.

Nairobi sent soldiers across the border a week ago to hunt the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters it blames for the abductions on its soil of a British tourist, a disabled French woman and two Spanish aid workers.

Kenya warplanes on Sunday targeted the Shebab-held Somali port city of Kismayo as troops advanced on the insurgents.

The military has not said how many of its troops are deployed, but analysts estimate the number at between 2,000 and 3,000.

US House panel to scrutinize Uganda deployment
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2011 - A key US House of Representatives committee on Monday announced plans to scrutinize President Barack Obama's decision to send 100 US troops to Uganda, amid worries the limited mission could escalate.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee said it would hold a hearing Tuesday to examine Obama's decision to help local forces battle the rebel-led Lord's Resistance Army "in relation to US law and US interests."

The panel hoped to hear from Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow.

Obama has said the US force will act as advisors to partner Ugandan forces trying to remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leaders of the LRA, which has been accused of gross human rights abuses. He said the American troops would not lead the fighting themselves.

The mostly special ops units are to deploy in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, subject to approval of regional governments, Obama said in a message to Congress.

LRA rebels are accused of terrorizing, murdering, raping and kidnapping thousands of people in the four nations, and tens of thousands of people died in their 20-year war with security forces in northern Uganda.

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S.Africa court resumes Rwandan general attempted murder case
Johannesburg (AFP) Oct 24, 2011 - The trial of six men charged with the attempted murder of Rwanda's exiled former army chief resumed Monday at a Johannesburg court with the cross examination of a key state witness.

General Faustin Nyamwasa was shot and wounded outside his Johannesburg home on June 19, 2010, four months after arriving in South Africa, after abandoning his diplomatic post in India.

Rwandan national Kalisa Mubarak told the court how he was approached by suspect Amani Uriwani about a plan to shoot a "Rwandan soldier" in South Africa.

Mubarak claims Uriwani offered him 10,000 rand ($1,500, 1,000 euros) to take part in the attack.

"I did not show interest in the job and chose to go to the police with the information," said Mubarak, who is in a witness protection programme.

Uriwani is charged with two other Rwandan nationals, Richard Bachisha and Pascal Kanyandekwe, and three Tanzanians -- Say Abodue, Hemedi Devengo and Hassan Nduli.

They have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

Kanyandekwe is facing an additional charge of corruption, after he tried to offer a police officer a bribe of $1 million in exchange of his freedom, according to court papers.

The trial is set down for 10 days for the state to call witnesses.

"We have over 40 witnesses and it is unlikely that we are going to be able to call all of them," said Shaun Abrahms, hinting at another extension of the trial.

Mubarak said he made a statement to the police and helped them find and arrest Uriwani.

Nyamwasa's wife Rosette, who was in the car with him during the shooting, believes the attack was a political assassination attempt as nothing was stolen during the incident.

The couple has been put under security protection since the accident.

The case has strained relations between South Africa and Rwanda, which wants to bring Nyamwasa home to serve a 24-year prison sentence after a military court tried him in absentia on charges of desertion, defamation and threatening state security.

Nyamwasa was tried with three other former top officials who co-authored a document slamming what they said was the repression of freedoms in Rwanda since Kagame's arrival in power in 1994.


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Sudden drop in Somali arrivals in Kenya: UNHCR
Geneva (AFP) Oct 21, 2011
The UN refugees agency said Friday that the number of Somalis fleeing to Kenya's Dadaab camp was falling, likely either due to military operations at the border or strong rains in the region. "In the Dadaab refugee complex in eastern Kenya, we are seeing a sharp drop in the number of new arrivals from Somalia. This could be due to the border military operations or the onset of heavy rains in ... read more

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