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Narrative therapy helps child soldiers: study
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 2, 2011

Sixteen charged for assassination bid against Guinea leader
Conakry (AFP) Aug 2, 2011 - Sixteen people, including 10 soldiers, have been charged with attempted assassination for an attack on Guinean President Alpha Conde's home two weeks ago, a judicial source said Tuesday.

Ten of the accused appeared in court on Monday in a suburb of Conakry, where they were charged and remanded in custody, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

They faced charges of "criminal association, threat to state security, murder of a member of the presidential guard and attempted assassination" of the head of state.

They were also accused of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition and destruction of goods and buildings.

Several of the accused are close allies of General Sekouba Konate, who led a transition government in 2010, including former army chief Nouhou Thiam and Konate's former aide de camp Sidiki Camara.

Six other accused were charged last week Wednesday.

The sixteen are among 38 people arrested after rogue soldiers attacked Conde's home, hitting it with a rocket and killing one member of the presidential guard.

The other suspects are still being held at a police station in the capital. bm/cs/stb/fb/ga

Brief therapy to help Ugandan former child soldiers talk about their experiences showed the best results in getting rid of post-traumatic stress disorder, said a study published in the US on Tuesday.

The method could be performed by local volunteers at low cost, and was more effective than academic catch-up classes or being put on a waiting list for treatment, said the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The practice could offer an inexpensive way to ease the transition back to regular life for the 250,000 young people estimated to be actively involved in fighting conflicts in 14 countries around the world, according to UN figures.

A total of 85 former child soldiers aged 12-25 who were clinically diagnosed with PTSD took part in what researchers at Germany's Bielefeld University described as the first-ever randomized controlled study of mental health interventions.

One-third were treated with narrative exposure therapy, in which "the participant constructs a detailed chronological account of his or her own biography in cooperation with the therapist to reconstruct fragmented memories of traumatic events and to achieve habituation," the study said.

Eighty percent of those subjects (20 of 25 participants) "were found to have improved with regard to PTSD severity" after eight sessions of 90-120 minutes each.

In contrast, only 48 percent of the academic catch-up group and 50 percent in the waiting list group "showed clinically relevant improvement," it said.

The academic group was designed to help children regain their education level so they could rejoin their classmates -- a key concern cited by former child soldiers -- while offering some support along the way.

One year after the treatment, 68 percent in the narrative group no longer fulfilled the criteria for PTSD, compared to 52 percent of the academic catch-up group and 54 of the waiting-list participants.

Many children in Uganda were recruited to fight in the Lord's Resistance Army as part of a 20-year civil conflict between rebels and Ugandan forces that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and saw nearly two million displaced.

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10 people arrested for Niger coup attempt: president
Niamey (AFP) Aug 2, 2011 - Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou announced late Tuesday that 10 people have been arrested for attempting a coup last month in the African country that recently emerged from military junta rule.

"Ten of those who had decided to undermine the security of the state with events planned to take place overnight from July 12 to 13, 2011, are under arrest and one of them is on the run," the president said in a message broadcast on the 51st anniversary of Niger's independence.

It was the first time Niger officials had confirmed the attempted coup.

In late July a military source had told AFP that "several soldiers, including a major and a lieutenant" has been arrested on suspicion of an attempted coup and assassination of President Issoufou."

In his message Tuesday, Issoufou said the inquiry would continue to try to find those behind the coup attempt.

"These events come at a time when the government has decided to take strong action against the misuse of public funds through payment of fake accounts," he said in a reference to the high-government body created last month to tackle corruption.

Issoufou was elected in March, ending the military rule that followed a February 2010 coup that toppled Mamadou Tandja, who held power in Niger for more than 10 years.

The election was widely viewed as fair and transparent and a major step toward democracy in a nation with a history of military coups.

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Pope urges end to 'indifference' over Somalia famine
Castel Gandolfo, Italy (AFP) July 31, 2011
The pope on Sunday urged the world not to be "indifferent" to the Horn of Africa famine, as the African Union prepares to host a donors conference for victims on August 9. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the suffering of millions in the region hit by its worst drought in decades in an address to hundreds of pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome. "We must not b ... read more

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