Nairobi, Kenya -- One child died and several others were hurt in a grenade attack on a children's Sunday-school class in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross said. A Kenyan hospital reported seven children wounded.

The Kenya Red Cross and local media described the incident at St. Polycarp church in Nairobi as a grenade attack. Government officials did not answer repeated telephone calls from CNN seeking comment.

Four injured children were admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital -- two for treatment of critical wounds, said Dr. Mutie Thomas, the hospital's senior assistant director.

Doctors treated and released another three people, Thomas said.

The injuries involve soft tissue damage, head wounds and broken bones, Thomas said.

The children were between the ages of 7 and 10.

The Kenya Red Cross tweeted that one child died, and that "six critical children" were taken to a hospital.

Such attacks have escalated since Kenyan forces invaded neighboring Somalia last year to battle the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, blaming it for kidnappings of foreigners in the nation.

The main force of Kenyan and Somali troops have taken control of police headquarters, a radio station and a seaport of the port city of Kismayo, Somalia, the Kenya Defence Forces announced on Twitter Sunday.

As the joint forces gain ground, "this has given an added impetus to the Somali peace process," the Kenyan military said.

An advance unit landed on the beaches north of the city on Friday and has secured northern parts of the town, the university and one important highway, according to the military's Twitter account.

A Kenyan military spokesman said Saturday that the operation was going well.

"Al-Shabaab has not been able to offer any resistance whatsoever to the ground forces since the ground forces landed there yesterday, and the whole of yesterday and the good part of today they have (suffered) heavy casualties," he said.

In a series of posts Saturday on a Twitter account often used by Al-Shabaab, the group said the Kenyan military is "waging a losing battle" in Kismayo. It said mujahedeen forces ambushed Kenyan troops 30 km (18 miles) west of Kismayo, destroying three vehicles and killing dozens of troops in a two-hour battle.

The military spokesman said those reports are "pure propaganda."

On Sunday Al-Shabaab said on the Twitter account: "The shelling of the city lays bare the intentions of KDF invaders & reveals that their war isn't just against (Al-Shabaab) but the Muslims of Somalia."

Al-Shabaab uses Kismayo to make money from the illegal charcoal trade and smuggling. Thousands of residents of the city fled before the fighting, according to the U.N.

CNN

 
 

Kenya has confirmed that a switch-off of counterfeit mobile phones will take place at the end of the month.

In addition, networks will be forbidden from activating new "fake" devices bought after 1 October.

Government officials said the move was designed to protect consumers from hazardous materials and to safeguard mobile payment systems.

They added it should also help them track users and limit violence ahead of March's general election.

The action had originally been scheduled to take place at the end of 2011, but was twice delayed to give subscribers a chance to replace their devices. However, the Ministry of Information and Communications has said this would not happen again.

The government said three million users were using counterfeit handsets as of June.

Official data suggests the country had 29 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of March.

Duplicated codes

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) defines fake handsets as "copies of popular brands and models made from sub-standard materials" that have not been licensed by the organisation.

They are sourced from China and other parts of Asia, as well as Nigeria and South Africa.

The CCK said "sub-standard components" were often used which had not been put through safety checks and might emit higher than recommended radiation levels.

They have proved popular since they are often sold at a heavy discounts to legitimate models, thanks in part to the fact that retailers avoid paying import taxes.

But the commission said they had caused an increase of dropped calls for all users because of "their inability to connect seamlessly to the mobile networks".

Law enforcement agencies had also complained that some of the devices used duplicated IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) codes, making it difficult to track down users suspected of using their handsets to plan crimes.

In addition, when the government publicised the switch-off in June it also linked the move to efforts to restrict fraud.

"In this era of mobile banking, use of counterfeit devices, which are manufactured without due consideration to the recognised security standards, may expose our mobile money systems as well as the wider banking and financial system to unnecessary risks," said the communications secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo.

"The government cannot allow this to happen and thus our decision to have all unregistered SIM cards and counterfeit handset mobile phones phased out by 30 September 2012."

Election violence

The move was initially opposed by the Consumers Federation of Kenya, a campaign group which said the action would punish users who were not to blame for the fact fakes were sold.

But last month the organisation dropped a theat to go to court to block the switch-off after a study suggested most Kenyans supported the effort.

Sunday's deadline also means counterfeit models can be barred from networks ahead of the election on 4 March 2013.

About 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes because of clashes following 2007's disputed presidential election.

There is concern the vote could spark further violence, and the CCK has suggested that ensuring all mobiles were registered could act as a deterrent.

"As the general elections draw near, we... have an obligation to ensure that the mobile telecoms industry is not used to perpetrate instability and to incite violence," said Francis Wangusi, the commission's director general.

Precious metals

Users can send a free SMS message containing their 15-number IMEI code to check that their handset is recognised as genuine.

The fact millions of devices will need to be replaced presents phone manufacturers with an opportunity to boost sales.

But there are also been worries that abandoned handsets could end up in landfill sites, damaging the environment.

To minimise the risk Nokia and Samsung have partnered with a local recycling company and mobile service providers to allow users to safely dispose of counterfeit models at collection points in major cities.

"Mobile phones contain many valuable and useful materials that can be recycled, including precious metals and plastics," said Bruce Howe, general manager for Nokia East Africa.

"For every one million phones recycled, it is possible to recover nearly 35kg of gold and 350kg of silver, which can be re-used in the production of future electronic goods."

The firm added that it believed Kenya's move was a model that could be adopted elsewhere in Africa and beyond.

Uganda has already said that it planned similar action

BBC

 

 

A man was caught with a dead baby boy stuffed in his suitcase at Tipper garage near Gwarimpa, Abuja, Nigeria.
 A source said he was arrested on a  tip-off and another said his secret became known to public when the bus conductor asked him to bring his suitcase so it can be stored properly.  The man vehemently refused.
 The suspicious conductor asked him what was inside the suitcase and he refused to say.  As the man tried to leave the bus station, the conductor and others seized the  suitcase from him and found the dead boy inside.


naijapal

Chanting miners wielding machetes, clubs and spears marched from shaft to shaft of South Africa's beleaguered Lonmin platinum mine Monday, trying to intimidate the few workers who reported for duty in the fourth week of a crippling strike whose impact has already included dozens of miners killed by police.

At one point on their 10-kilometer (six-mile) trek, a striker lashed a whip at a man they accused of reporting for work. He took off across the scrubland with dozens of men waving machetes and clubs in pursuit. The man was saved by police officers who pulled him into their moving vehicle.
Meanwhile, labor unrest spread in the country, with an illegal strike by more than 10,000 workers halting operations at the west section of Gold Fields International's KDC gold mine.

The strikes are rooted in rivalry between the main National Union of Mineworkers and a breakaway union.

At the KDC gold mine, for instance, spokesman Sven Lunsche said the strike started Sunday night and that senior managers met Monday with strikers demanding the removal of NUM shop stewards and a minimum monthly wage of R12,500 ($1,560).

Some 12,000 miners at east KDC staged a weeklong illegal strike to demand the removal of NUM shop stewards that ended Sept. 3.

At a second platinum mine, Implats, 15,000-plus workers are demanding a 10 percent pay raise although they are continuing to work, spokesman Johan Theron said.

London-registered Lonmin PLC said just 6 percent of its 28,000 workers turned up Monday morning at its mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg. Mine drivers drove around looking for workers to pick up, but the buses returned to the mine empty.

In Marikana, hundreds of chanting strikers descended on one after another of the Lonmin mine shafts, chanting anti-government songs and blaming President Jacob Zuma for the police killings. They were monitored by armed police in riot gear, some in armored cars, others on foot.

As strikers approached Lonmin's Hossy shaft, police escorted a speeding cavalcade of buses and vans carrying working miners and trucks with explosives as they rushed to get from one mine shaft to another.

Strikers have threatened to kill any miners or managers who do not respect their demand for all work to stop until Lonmin agrees to a monthly take-home pay of 12,500 rand ($1,560), about double their current wages.

Lonmin had hoped many more miners would come to work since a peace accord was signed last week with three major unions. But it was rejected by a breakaway union and nonunion strikers.

The government brokered the peace deal after police shot and killed 34 miners and wounded 78 on Dec. 16 at Marikana, a mass shooting reminiscent of apartheid-era days that has traumatized the nation of 48 million.

Ten people were killed in the week before the shootings: two police officers hacked to death by strikers, six union shop stewards and two mine guards burned alive in their car.

The Legal Resources Centre, meanwhile, announced that it has hired forensic experts and pathologists to investigate the Marikana violence on behalf of the South African Human Rights Commission.

The commission has stepped in following local news reports alleging that some miners were shot as they tried to surrender to police, others were shot in the back as they ran away from the police fire, and some were run over and killed by police armored cars.

Police and government officials have refused to comment on the allegations, saying they must await the results of a judicial commission of inquiry that is to report to Zuma in January.

Miners told The Associated Press they are getting desperate and do not have enough money to feed their families because of the no-work, no-pay strike. One said a loan shark is refusing to give money to any but long-time customers.

Still they said they remain resolute and will not return to work until their wage demand is met. The miners refused to give their names to a reporter.

The National Union of Mineworkers said the Marikana strikers had gone around Sunday night threatening anyone who went to work.

Negotiations between mine managers, several unions and representatives of strikers who do not want to be represented by any of the unions were postponed for 24 hours because the strikers' representatives said they did not know about the meeting, Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said. She said the talks would start off by working out a framework for salary negotiations and probably would last several days.

But Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity union representing mainly white mine workers, said the strikers' representatives sent a message saying their position had not changed and they would not go back to work until Lonmin agrees to the salary demand.

The last of the miners killed by police were buried during the weekend, one in Lesotho and three in South Africa. The Daily Dispatch newspaper quoted a family member as saying that one of them, Thembelakhe Mati, was wounded in the shooting and got away to hide in a shack, fearing he would be arrested if he went to the mine hospital for treatment.

Half a dozen buses carrying mourners who had attended the funerals in far-flung parts of the country returned Monday to a shantytown of tin-walled shacks without water or electricity near the mine

Nigeria is protesting about the detention of about 1,000 Nigerian women at airports in Saudi Arabia.

The women, some of whom have been held since Sunday, had been planning to make the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia told the BBC the authorities were stopping women under the age of 35.

There has been an understanding in the past that Nigerian women are exempt from travelling with a male relative - a requirement for women on the Hajj.

Nigerian diplomats say the agreement between National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Saudi authorities allows visas to be issued for Nigerian women going to Mecca as long as they are accompanied by their local Hajj committee officials.

Correspondents say many Nigerians have entered Saudi Arabia illegally to seek work.

'Mismatched surnames'

Since Sunday, hundreds of Nigerian women have been stopped at the airports in Jeddah and Medina.

Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abubakar Shehu Bunu, said he had made a formal protest to the foreign affairs office in the capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday.

"They are stopping women particularly between the ages of 25 and 35 without a male relative. Those over 45 are not a concern to the Saudi authorities," he told the BBC's Hausa Service.

One woman told the BBC her group were being held in Jeddah not because they were travelling without male relatives but because the surnames on their passports did not correspond with those of their husbands.

"Our husbands' names are different from our surnames and they won't allow that," Bilkisu Nasidi, who travelled from the northern Nigerian city of Katsina, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

She said the hundreds of women were sleeping on the floor, did not have their belongings and were sharing four toilets at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

It is a common practice for Muslim women in Nigeria not to take their husband's name.

More than two million Muslims are due to converge on Mecca for this year's Hajj, which is set to culminate over a four-day period somewhere between 24-29 October depending on lunar observations

 

As part of the government’s policy to improve payroll administration, the ministry of finance and Economic Planning has embarked on an exercise to register all pensioners and workers on the active payroll.

In connections with the above Ghanaians in Germany are kindly requested to facilitate communication through Embassies/Missions to all Ghanaian Pensioners and workers domiciled abroad, including ex-service men to appear in person to the nearest Consulate or Embassy to provide information and their biometric data to include:

Photographs, .Staff numbers, Pension number, Regiment number .Date of birth .ID number .Retirement date. Position held before retirement ect.

This is to enable the Controller and Accountant General renew their status and process their Pension and salaries. This exercise also includes staff of Missions abroad.

Ghana embassy Berlin is therefore requesting of all Hon. Consuls and Heads of Ghanaian Union/Associations to help facilitate the process by informing all concerned Ghanaians to visit the Mission in Berlin to have their biometric data taken for the exercise

Contact

Ghana Embassy Berlin
George De Souza
Head of Consular
http://www.ghanaemberlin.de

Ethiopia has pardoned two Swedish journalists jailed last year for supporting terrorism, a minister has said, adding they would be freed soon.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are serving an 11-year jail term after they were captured in July 2011 with rebels in eastern Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pardoned the journalists before his death last month, the official said.
They have always argued they were in Ethiopia just to do their job.
Schibbye and Persson appealed for clemency following their conviction in December 2011 for supporting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which Ethiopia regards as a terrorist group.
The Ethiopian New Year - when prisoners are often freed - will be celebrated on Tuesday.
"The two Swedes are among the ones to be released," said Justice Minister Berhan Hailu.
"The decision to pardon them was made in July," he said, adding that they had to leave the country within 24 hours.
'Weapons training'
Mr Meles, who was in power for 21 years, died last month after a long illness.
The government said his deputy, Hailemariam Desalegn, would be sworn in to serve as prime minister until the next election, due in 2015.
But this has not yet happened, fuelling speculation of a power struggle.
Schibbye and Persson were captured by Ethiopian troops during a clash with ONLF fighters in July 2011.
The men acknowledged during their trial that they had held talks with ONLF leaders in London and Nairobi, before entering Ethiopia from Somalia and meeting about 20 members of the group 40km (25 miles) from the border.

They said their contacts with the ONLF were intended to help them to get into a region the Ethiopian authorities would not allow journalists to enter.

They said they wanted to report on the activities of a Swedish oil company, Lundin Petroleum, in the Ogaden.

Both men denied terrorism charges, including claims that they had been given weapons training.

Rebels in the Ogaden region have been fighting for independence since the 1970s, and the ONLF has been at the forefront of the fight since it was founded in 1984.
The Ogaden is an ethnic Somali part of Ethiopia.
One ONLF faction has signed a peace deal with the government, but another splinter group has continued to fight the army.
Rights groups accuse Ethiopia of trying to cover up abuses by troops in the region.

BBC

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