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AU troops to replace Ethopian forces in key Somali cities
by Staff Writers
Addis Ababa (AFP) March 9, 2012

Guinea frees 17 accused of attack on president
Conakry (AFP) March 9, 2012 - A Guinean court on Friday dismissed charges against 17 civilians and soldiers accused of involvement in an attack against President Alpha Conde in July last year, lawyers said.

General prosecutor William Fernandez of the appeals court in Conakry said the accused "were immediately freed" after the case was dismissed.

Public prosecutor Hassane Diallo said at least 60 people had been arrested in connection with the attack on July 20 during which rogue soldiers opened fire on Conde's residence, blasting it with bazookas and rocket-propelled grenades.

The president was unhurt but a member of his presidential guard was killed and two others were injured in the attack which rocked the nation just seven months after its first ever democratic election.

The accused had been charged with attempted assassination, said Diallo.

African Union troops are set to replace Ethiopian forces in two Somali cities recently taken from Shebab rebels, the AU Commissioner for the Peace and Security Council said Friday.

By the end of April, over 2,500 Djiboutian, Burundian and Ugandan soldiers with the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are set to move into Beledweyne and Baidoa, where rebels were forced out by Ethiopian forces in recent months.

"Ethiopian troops will not be needed anymore in both places," AU security head Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.

Ethiopian troops and tanks rolled into Somalia in November to support the Somali transitional government in their fight against the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.

Ethiopia says it will leave Somalia as soon as stability is established, although it is far from clear how long that could take.

Lamamra did not confirm whether Ethiopian troops will continue their push into Somalia. "For now, it's mission accomplished and AMISOM would be able to take over in both places," he said.

Ethiopia's military incursion is currently receiving no outside financial support, Lamamra added, but he did not rule out extending Ethiopia's presence in future if greater funding could be secured.

"If we succeed to work out some support package for Ethiopia, we may be in a position to request the government to consider the possibility to help us elsewhere," he said.

The UN Security Council increased AMISOM troops by nearly 6,000 to 17,731 last month and agreed to provide equipment including helicopters and planes.

AMISOM forces are in Somalia to stamp out Shebab rebels and support the country's Western-backed transitional government.

In August, they took over the capital Mogadishu from the extremists, who have continued a series of guerrilla attacks on AU forces.

In October, Kenyan militia moved in after a series of kidnappings and attacks it blamed on Shebab militants.

International leaders met in London in February to pledge greater support for the Horn of Africa country which has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for over two decades.

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Top US intelligence official visits Algeria
Algiers (AFP) March 10, 2012 - A top US intelligence official had talks in Algiers Saturday ahead of a regional security conference, the official APS news agency reported.

Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence Michael Vickers discussed the security situation and US-Algerian cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organised crime with Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia, it said, quoting a ministry statement.

Meanwhile state radio said that Ould Kablia would attend a ministerial conference in Libya on Sunday and Monday on regional cooperation, focusing particularly on border security.

Other countries invited include Chad, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Sudan.

Regional security also figured in talks in Washington Thursday between US officials and Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.

While Libya struggles to restore order after the overthrown of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, other countries in the region are battling the activities of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, including hostage-taking, along with ethnic unrest and rampant smuggling.


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Mali rebels strike amid post-Libya anarchy
Dakar, Senegal (UPI) Mar 8, 2012
North Africa, never the most placid of places, has been plunged into turmoil in recent weeks by groups of heavily armed fighters that have fanned out across the Sahara to destabilize the region known as the Maghreb. The Feb. 8 capture of town of Tinzawatene on Mali's northern border with Algeria rebel Tuareg tribesmen, who served under Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, vividly illustrate ... read more

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