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Rioting hits northern Nigerian town after woman shot
by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Aug 10, 2011

Riots broke out in a northern Nigerian town on Wednesday after soldiers were accused of shooting a protester, with churches and the traditional leader's palace set alight, residents said.

The riot in the town of Biu followed a protest over the arrest of several teachers from an Islamic school on suspicion of belonging to an Islamist sect that has been blamed for scores of attacks, residents said.

"The soldiers then began shooting into the air to disperse the protesters outside the palace," said one of the residents, Babagana Ali. "A bullet hit a woman in the head. She died instantly, but her two-year-old baby survived."

Another woman was shot in the shoulder and taken to hospital, he said. According to Ali, the protesters numbered around 1,500.

Protesters further angered over the shooting set part of the emir's palace ablaze and burnt two nearby churches, he said. Part of a local government building also burned.

One of those arrested, Abubakar Ibrahim Musa, said a total of seven teachers were detained by soldiers on Wednesday morning.

"We were told at the barracks that we were arrested because some of us were suspected of belonging to Boko Haram sect," he said by phone.

"They said it was not expedient to pick the suspects from among us at the school but to bring all of us along and sift the suspects and release those of us not on the list."

Three of the teachers, including Musa, were later released and brought to the emir's palace to "douse tension," he said, while the other four remained in custody.

A military spokesman in Maiduguri, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Biu, said he received "information from Biu that a woman was shot and killed during a protest which led to rioting by residents in which the palace of the emir was affected."

The spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, however said the town was outside his jurisdiction and referred further questions to his counterparts in the Biu area. A military spokesman there declined comment.

The country's northeast has been hit by scores of attacks blamed on the Islamist sect known as Boko Haram. Most of the attacks have occurred in Maiduguri, but a number have also taken place in Biu.

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Swarming 'hairy moths' triggers French Guiana curfew
Cayenne, French Guiana (AFP) Aug 10, 2011 - An invasion of Yellowtail moths that cause a form of dermatitis known as the Caripito itch has led the authorities in a region of French Guiana to impose a nighttime curfew.

The affected region is Sinnamary, located 110 kilometres (68 miles) west of the French overseas territory's capital Cayenne.

Since the start of July, public lighting has been switched off at dusk, shops closed and residents told to stay indoors, in the dark and under mosquito nets, the authorities said.

The Yellowtail moth -- Hylesia Metabus -- is found mainly in mangrove swamps but they swarm to lights in nearby towns between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm.

"The female moths release thousands of microscopic urticating hairs that cause severe itching," the local health authority said.

The hairs used by the female moths to protect their eggs from predators can cause cutaneous conditions in humans.

"The light produced by a television set is enough to draw the moths into homes," Barbara Thomas, a local restaurant owner, told AFP.

"I've been closed every evening for a month now," she said, complaining that the infestation had hit French Guiana's economy badly at the peak of the tourist season.

At the nearby international space centre in Kourou, the base used to launch Russian Soyouz rockets has set up light traps to fight the swarming moths, local engineer Claude Berteaud said.

Sinnamary residents staged a march on July 29 to demand the authorities eradicate the moths.

A committee was formed to tackle the problem and consider measures such as spraying the swamps during the moths' reproductive period.

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Somali government offers amnesty to Shebab rebels
Mogadishu (AFP) Aug 9, 2011
Somalia's embattled government offered an amnesty Tuesday to Islamist rebels still fighting in Mogadishu while the African Union force pressed for 3,000 more troops to secure the capital. Although the bulk of the Islamist Shebab who controlled around half of Mogadishu pulled out on Saturday, remnant insurgents have clashed with the AU-backed Somali government troops trying to secure the fami ... read more

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