Nairobi, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a restaurant in the Somali town of Baidoa and a grenade struck a hotel nearby, leaving at least 11 people dead and more than 10 wounded, authorities said Saturday.
The death toll may rise, Col. Ahmed Muse told The Associated Press. Most of the casualties were caused by the bomber who walked into the restaurant with explosives strapped around his waist, officials said.
At least 10 of the wounded were being treated at Baidoa's main hospital. Most had horrific injuries, nurse Mohamed Isaq told the AP.
Baidoa is a key economic center about 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the capital, Mogadishu, and about the same distance east of the Ethiopian border.
The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the blasts via its radio arm, Andalus. It said one blast targeted a hotel owned by a former Somali minister, Mohamed Aden Fargeti, one of several candidates running for the presidency of the region in November's election.
Al-Shabab, which controlled Baidoa between 2009 and 2012 before being driven out by Ethiopian-backed government forces, still holds parts of southern and central Somalia.
The blasts came a day before Somalia marks the first anniversary of the deadliest attack in its history, a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu.
Attention in recent days has turned to Baidoa, the interim capital of South West state, as high-level al-Shabab defector Mukhtar Robow also seeks the regional presidency.
Robow is the highest-ranking official to have ever quit al-Shabab, surrendering to the Somali government last year after the United States cancelled a $5 million reward offered for his capture.
Somalia's government earlier this month said Robow was not eligible to run for the regional post because he is still under U.S. sanctions that were imposed against him in 2008 when he was identified as a "specially designated global terrorist."
Robow, who has yet to respond to the government's statement, has continued his campaign and remains registered on the list of candidates.
He is among several people challenging former Somali parliament speaker and incumbent regional president Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Among the candidates is Somalia's former intelligence chief Hussein Osman, who has just resigned.
Johannesburg, Oct 12 (AP/UNB) — Former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu is recovering at home after being treated at a Cape Town hospital for more than two weeks.
The foundation named after the anti-apartheid activist and his wife, Leah, on Friday thanked people who sent messages and prayers for the Nobel laureate's "swift return to his feet."
The foundation says Tutu, who has been treated for prostate cancer for years, is regaining strength.
Tutu turned 87 years old on Oct. 7 while he was in the hospital. He was taken there for tests on Sept. 27.
Port-Au-Prince, Oct 7 (AP/UNB) — A magnitude 5.9 earthquake destroyed homes and damaged a church and at least one hospital in Haiti, where officials reported people were injured, but had not confirmed local media reports of deaths.
The U.S. Geologic Survey said the quake that hit at 8:11 p.m. Saturday (001 GMT) was centered 12 miles (19 kilometers) northwest of Port-de-Paix on Haiti's north coast. It was 7.3 miles (11.7 kilometers) below the surface.
The country's civil protection agency issued a statement saying several people were injured and some houses destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island. Among the structures damaged was the Saint-Michel church in Plaisance.
Other rescue workers reported the collapse of part of a hospital and an auditorium as the quake hit on a rainy evening.
The quake was felt lightly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is especially vulnerable to earthquakes. A vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 300,000 people.
Niamey, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — Niger's public health ministry says at least 68 people have died in a cholera epidemic that began in July.
The ministry this week said it has registered more than 3,690 cases of the disease, which is caused by contaminated food or water and can kill within hours if untreated.
The epidemic has spread in the central Maradi region and has also affected the northern Tahoua, eastern Zinder and southwestern Dosso regions.
The U.N. children's agency and World Health Organization have estimated that only 37 percent of the population in the Maradi region has access to clean drinking water and only 10 percent has access to basic sanitation.
Niger's heavy rainy season from June to September allows the disease to spread easily.
Juba, Sept 26 (AP/UNB) — South Sudan's civil war has caused nearly 400,000 "excess deaths" since fighting erupted in late 2013, a new report funded by the U.S. State Department said Wednesday after years of uncertainty.
The report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimates that "violent injuries" caused about half of those 382,900 deaths. Increased risk of disease and reduced access to health care contributed to others, it said.
The civil war's death toll has long been unknown, with estimates in the tens of thousands.
"To our knowledge this is the first comprehensive estimate of how many people have died because of the war," Francesco Checchi, a lead investigator on the study, told The Associated Press. "Every day that goes by, hundreds more lives may be lost."
"I think this figure is much more realistic than the 50,000 which has been used for so long," Klem Ryan, a former official with the United Nations mission in South Sudan who later served as coordinator of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions on the country, told the AP.
Counting the dead in the civil war is difficult as so much occurs in remote locations, Ryan said. "However, that's not justification for not compiling what we did know and pointing to the gaps."
The new report, based on statistical modeling and not peer reviewed, says the deaths appeared to peak in 2016 and 2017. Fresh fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, when a peace deal collapsed in July 2016 and the violence spread into other regions. Most of the deaths occurred in the country's south and northeast and among adult males, the report says.
The striking new estimate comes weeks after the warring sides signed what the government called a "final final" peace deal. It returns rebel leader Riek Machar to his role as vice president to President Salva Kiir, a situation that sparked the conflict when their supporters clashed along ethnic lines. Machar fled the post again during the 2016 fighting.
The United States and others have expressed skepticism that this new peace deal will hold and some fighting has been reported, with each side blaming the other.
A government spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told the AP that he could not confirm or deny the new estimated death toll and blamed killings on the armed opposition. "You can't collect the data."
South Sudan's civil war also has sent more than 2 million people fleeing in Africa's largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The new report calls for a stronger humanitarian response in one of the world's most dangerous countries for aid workers. The U.N. has repeatedly called on the government to allow more access.
The report "should also spur warring factions to conduct war according to its rules, instead of attacking civilians and humanitarian actors," Checchi said.
One South Sudanese organization has taken on an even larger, perhaps more dangerous, task: Identifying every person killed in the civil war by name, as well as those killed in various conflicts dating back to 1955.
"This is a war of revenge, hate and anger and we have to address this. We are trying to humanize the loss," Anyieth D'Awol, who is involved with the Remembering the Ones We Lost organization, told the AP.
The group started collecting names in 2014. So far, it has 6,677. One day, it hopes to set up monuments to the dead.