Top Africa stories: Zim, Somalia, Nigeria

Villagers on Grace Mugabe farm 'beaten on soles of feet': HRW

Harare - Riot police knocking down homes on a farm taken over by Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe tied a rope round the cottages and used a truck to pull them down, Human Rights Watch is reporting.

Some villagers who tried to stop their homes being destroyed in this heartbreaking way on Arnolds Farm in Mazowe were beaten, the watchdog reports in its latest statement. 

At least five men were beaten on the soles of their feet.

Grace Mugabe

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EXCLUSIVE: Robert Mugabe's 'frailty'

Pretoria - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been looking a bit frail of late – and it may be deliberate.

Institute for Security Studies consultant Derek Matyszak told a seminar in Pretoria on Tuesday that Mugabe’s lighting of the Independence Day flame last month had tongues wagging in Zimbabwe, and it could have something to do with the battle to succeed Mugabe.

In the video, Mugabe appeared frail and he had to be lifted up the step where he lit the flame, next to a young, fit-looking man.

Robert Mugabe

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Mugabe's daughter, priest, appointed to censorship board

Harare - President Robert Mugabe’s only daughter Bona has been appointed to the country’s Censorship Board, which determines which parts of steamy films the people of Zimbabwe can watch and which they can’t.

To help her in this task is Mugabe’s longstanding friend and confidante, Father Fidelis Mukonori, who is a Roman Catholic priest, and former education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, who was sued by his son two years ago for allegedly practising witchcraft and “possessing goblins”.

Robert Mugabe

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At least 94 vultures 'found poisoned and dead in Zimbabwe'

Harare - At least 94 critically-endangered vultures have been found poisoned in south-eastern Zimbabwe by poachers almost certainly trying to hide the killing of an elephant, conservationists say.

The dead African white-backed vultures were found on Friday around the carcass of an elephant that had been killed for its ivory near to Zimbabwe’s border post with neighbouring Mozambique. One vulture survived.


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Nigeria seizes illegal arms shipment

Lagos - Nigeria said on Wednesday it had intercepted an illegal cache of arms at the port in Lagos, five months after a similar seizure in the city, a spokesperson told AFP.

"Following intelligence reports, our operatives on Monday inspected a 40-foot container at the Tin Can port in Apapa, Lagos, and found 440 pieces of assorted pump action rifles and other accessories of the guns," said Joseph Attah.

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Pirates seize Iranian fishing boat off Somalia

Nairobi  - Somali pirates have hijacked an Iranian fishing boat and taken it to a port in the north of the country, a watchdog group said on Wednesday.

The ocean-going dhow with a crew of up to 20 was seized by pirates off Qandala in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on Tuesday, said John Steed, regional manager for Oceans Beyond Piracy, a US-based non-profit group. 


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Egyptian prosecutors order release of opposition leader

Cairo - Prosecutors have ordered the release on bail of an opposition leader accused of publicly making an obscene finger gesture in January.

Wednesday's ruling came one day after Khaled Ali was summoned by prosecutors for questioning over the alleged incident outside a Cairo courthouse.

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