Katharine Houreld

Nigeria reports first case of bird flu in humans

Bird flu has claimed its first human victim in Africa's most-populous nation, killing a young Nigerian woman due to graduate from university and be married this year, officials and the victim's fiancé said. An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu hit Nigeria last year, but no human infections had been reported until Wednesday.

Nigerian hostages escape from oil facility

Eight Nigerian hostages escaped and five others were released from an oil facility where they had been held since armed men raided the Italian-run pumping station earlier this week. Forty-eight Nigerian employees of Agip had been held in the south of the country since armed protesters overran and shut down Agip's Tebidaba oil pumping station on Monday.

Oil company says 25 workers abducted in Nigeria

Militants who led a deadly attack on a military convoy escorting oil workers in the restive south also abducted 25 Nigerian petroleum-industry employees, the leading oil firm in Africa's biggest producer said on Tuesday. The hostage takers hadn't made any ransom demands earlyon Tuesday after the attack and seizure a day earlier.

Gun battles erupt in Nigerian oil hub

Gun battles erupted in multiple locations in southern Nigeria's oil hub of Port Harcourt on Sunday night, and witnesses said a group of foreigners was taken hostage from a nightclub amid the shooting. A witness said he saw more than 10 people go into the nightclub and drag a group of foreigners away while shooting into the air.

Liberia’s women fight back

Sweat is running down Patricia Clark's face as she shouts at a crowd of hundreds of Liberians through a megaphone. ''The law says, if you jump on a woman without her consent, that is rape. You will go to prison for 10 years. If you rape a child, you will get life. You die in prison; they bury you; they will chain you in your grave.''

The Darfur domino effect

Spillover from the Darfur conflict is in danger of destabilising the entire Central African region, say observers. Since the war in Sudan erupted, rebel groups have formed in neighbouring Chad and are beginning to emerge in the Central African Republic, which shares a border with both states.

A hard X for Chad

In the dusty border town of Adre, battered pickup trucks roar around the quiet streets with clumps of rifle-toting men clinging to the roof. Most wear the distinctive brown camouflage issued to the army, but others sport the gowns and turbans favoured by the local population. In this poor, but oil-rich nation, no one raises an eyebrow at unmarked trucks bristling with machine guns.

‘We want to see justice’

One month after the rebels chopped off both of Abubakr Kargbo's hands with an axe, his son was born. ''I gave him my name,'' said the father of four, gesturing towards the young Abubakr with a stump. ''I did not expect to live and I wanted my name to carry on.''

Last page of an ugly chapter

As word trickled through of the capture of former president Charles Taylor, huddles of Liberians began to congregate around the nearest radio. For the first time in years, the Champions League football was switched off in favour of the news. ''This is a great day,'' said Jerome Verdier, head of the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Nigeria’s ‘betrayal’ of Taylor made in the US

As one of Charles Taylor's closest advisers warns of ''bloodshed and chaos'' if the former Liberian president is extradited, analysts say the international community must act quickly to prevent his supporters from re-arming. Taylor, currently in exile in Nigeria, faces 17 counts of crimes against humanity brought by an internationally backed special court in Sierra Leone.

Nigeria divided over ‘third-term agenda’

High above the traffic jams and street vendors choking on exhaust fumes, Nigeria's larger-than-life politicians stride majestically towards the edge of towering billboards, arms gesturing to the great visions that lie just beyond the paper borders. The elections might be more than a year away, but the country is throwing itself into one of its favourite sports -- politics -- with a vengeance.

Rebellion in the Delta

The hymn We are Fighting for Jesus rang out across the Niger Delta as a boatful of balaclava-clad militants brandishing machine guns and rocket launchers greeted the international press corps. In a bizarre masquerade, the latest militia group to lay claim to the oil fields on the Delta handed astonished journalists a 69-year-old American hostage.

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