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Nigerian Islamists say no ceasefire until troops withdrawn
by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) July 13, 2011

Nigerian Islamists blamed for a raft of bombings will not halt their attacks unless troops are withdrawn from the epicentre of the violence, a man claiming to be their spokesman said Wednesday.

"We can cease fire if soldiers are withdrawn from Maiduguri because there is no way we can accept any peace deal when thousands of soldiers are being deployed to the city," Abu Zaid told journalists on a conference call.

"If government is really sincere in the restoration of peace, let all soldiers from the streets go back to the barracks."

President Goodluck Jonathan has deployed hundreds of troops to the northeastern city of Maiduguri, which has seen the brunt of the violence blamed on a sect known as Boko Haram.

Thousands of residents have fled the city, fearing more violence linked to Islamist attacks and soldiers' response.

Troops were accused of targeting civilians last weekend and burning their homes after accusing them of complicity with the sect, which the military denies.

The state government in Borno, where Maiduguri is the capital, issued a statement on Wednesday pledging that military operations would be conducted responsibly.

"Adequate measures have now been taken by government to ensure that security operations would henceforth be undertaken with a human face and with absolute respect for the freedom of movement ...," it said.

Bomb blasts and shootings blamed on the sect have intensified in recent weeks and now occur almost daily. The group has claimed to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state.

Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims.

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Sudan president in Doha for Darfur peace deal
Doha (AFP) July 13, 2011 - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Doha on Wednesday for the inking of a peace agreement with a Darfur rebel group, Qatar's official QNA news reported.

"Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Doha this evening to attend the signing ceremony for a Darfur peace agreement ... between the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement," QNA said.

The signing is due to take place at 1300 GMT on Thursday but the main armed factions of the vast Darfur region of western Sudan will be absent.

At least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 1.8 million people fled their homes since the conflict broke out in 2003 between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, according to the United Nations.

The government puts the death toll at 10,000.

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WFP considers returning to rebel-held Somali regions
Nairobi (AFP) July 13, 2011
The UN was discussing Wednesday whether to send its food agency back into southern Somalia after the Islamist rebels who control the region appealed for help to face a drought threatening millions. Two years after expelling foreign aid groups, the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab asked for assistance as one of the region's worst droughts in decades risked starving a third of Somalia's population of 10 ... read more

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