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The Africa Report 17 May

EWN's Africa Correspondent, Jean-Jacques Cornish, reports on the day's top African news.

Mine shaft. Picture: AFP

20 DIE IN THE COLLAPSE OF EASTERN CONGO BUSH MINE

The Paradox of Plenty has hit the Congo, leaving more than 20 people dead after a bush mine collapsed.

The bush mine in Masisi in the North Kivu province was just one of the many illegal mining operations in the resource rich province - also one of the Congo's most troubled provinces.

Part of North Kivu's trouble is because it is so rich in minerals, with columbite-tantalite (Coltan), the mineral used in cell phones, as well as gold.

Much of these resources are smuggled out and mined illegally, meaning that the area is dotted with these bush mines.

FRANCE'S FIRST LADY VISITS MALI

Today's news from Mali is illustrative of increasing security in what was once one of Africa's greatest democracies.

France's first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, has begun a tour of Mali with her first stop in one of the northern cities, Gao.

Gao was one of the cities liberated by French forces from the al-Qaeda franchise occupying it.

France is in the process of pulling out of Mali after having completed a successful military operation.

They have promised that this process will be a slow one as not to upset circumstances and are looking to hand over to an African-led force.

Trierweiler's visit, which began on Thursday, follows on from that of President François Hollande and his foreign and defence ministers.

MOROCCO ACCUSED OF TORTURING SAHRAWI PROTESTORS

In today's news from Morocco, six pro-Sahrawi protestors have accused Moroccan police of torture and coercion.

The men, aged between 17 and 31 years, had taken part in the area's biggest protest in the Western Sahara's largest city, Laâyoune.

The protest was yet another part of the struggle against Morocco's illegal occupation of the Western Sahara, which dates back to 1975.

One of the men reported that he was threatened with rape as a method by the police to get false confessions out of them.

Amnesty International, who have been watching the situation like a hawk, has called on Moroccan authorities to launch a full and impartial investigation into the allegations made by the six men.

Morocco remains in defiance of the international community's calls for the Western Sahara's self-determination, creating an urgent need for a human rights monitoring element within the United Nations peacekeeping element that is currently there.

LATEST FROM NIGERIA'S WAR ON BOKO HARAM

The latest on Nigeria's recently launched military offensive on Islamist terror organisation, Boko Haram, is that strike aircraft have been sent into the areas known to be strongholds of the terrorists.

The aircraft have entered Nigeria's northeast region along with the deployment of fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

Nigerian soldiers have already raided areas within the Sambisa Game Reserve, home to two Boko Haram bases.

However, in the classic case of fighting an irregular force whilst having to use regular methods, the United States have warned Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, that any human rights violations committed in these attacks could sour the bilateral relations between the two nations.

In a briefing by the United States State Department, Patrick Ventrell, the Acting Deputy Spokesperson asked Nigerian authorities to act with caution.

"We call on Nigerian officials to ensure that Nigeria's security forces protect civilians in any security response in a way that respects human rights and the rule of law and to ensure that recent incidents in the north, including the violence in Baga, are fully investigated and those responsible are held accountable."

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