Elderly men were keeping watch Saturday over Timbuktu's main library after Islamists burned down a tomb listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The attacks Friday were blamed on Ansar Dine, a militant group that seeks to impose strict Sharia law.
The ancient city in Mali was captured by at least two separatist Tuareg rebel groups in an anti-government uprising in the northern part of the country that began in January.
The rebels burned the tomb of a Sufi saint where people come to pray, said Sankoum Sissoko, a tour guide familiar with the place. He said the library and other heritage sites remained under threat.FULL STORY
Guinea-Bissau has been suspended from the African Union in the wake of last week's military coup.
The suspension remains "until the restoration of constitutional order," the union said Tuesday.
The union cited the "recurrence of illegal and unacceptable interference of the leadership of Guinea-Bissau's army on the politics of the country, creating instability and culture of impunity, which have hampered the development of the country."FULL STORY
A famously viral and controversial video that turned an African warlord into a household name in February now has a sequel.
On Thursday morning, the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children released "Beyond Famous." Coming in at 19 minutes – about 10 minutes less than the group's first video – the sequel addresses media criticism of the first "Kony 2012" video, which caught fire on Twitter and was reportedly viewed on YouTube 100 million times. It also explains what politicians in Washington and in Africa have done in the past month since the original "Kony 2012" video.
The second video continues to advocate for the capture of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. Formed in the 1980s, the LRA is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in Uganda and South Sudan. As its leader, Kony recruited child soldiers and committed numerous atrocities include raping and maiming civilians, experts say. Kony is at large.
Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's executive director, told CNN the makers of the first video said they wanted to explain the plight of children affected by the LRA. The video hung its narrative on 30-something American filmmaker Jason Russell, his friendship with a young Ugandan boy who had escaped from the LRA, and Russell's young son, Gavin.
At one point in that video, Russell tells his son on camera that there are bad guys like Kony in the world. The child reacts as any child would – incredibly scared. Russell, who recently had a public meltdown, is not part of the sequel.
Critics blasted the video as overly simplistic.
"We made the first video intentionally for a young Western audience, and therefore it was a priority that the video keep their attention," Keesey told CNN on Thursday. "This (new) video goes deeper. I think people will respond."
The sequel opens with soundbites from critics of the first video. The voices of various pundits and media personalities say "simplified" a couple of times. Mid-sentence soundbites from journalists, several of them on CNN, round out the beginning of the video.
Keesey narrates, explaining the creation of the campaign, its progress and ongoing efforts to stop the LRA. Part two essentially rehashes what was in the first video, but Keesey notes that officials from the United States to Africa have spoken recently about their desire to stop Kony or have signed measures aimed at stopping him. He adds that the African Union recently announced plans to deploy 5,000 troops to hunt down Kony.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said in late March that attacks by Kony's army are increasing.
A bomb blast rocked Somalia's newly reopened national theater in the capital city Wednesday, killing two top sports officials.
Witnesses reported other casualties, but it was unclear how many.
Said Mohamed Mugambe, head of the Somali football federation, and Somali Olympic committee chief Adan Hagi Yabarow Wish were killed in the attack, a hospital official told CNN.
The bomb went off during a celebration for the first anniversary of Somali national television in Mogadishu, according to witnesses. Screaming people fled the theater and ambulance sirens filled the air.
The African Union Mission in Somalia said the device had been detonated by a female suicide bomber who blended in with the crowd gathered for the occasion.FULL STORY
Vast portions of west and central Africa have become so dry that they can't support crops, livestock and the millions of people who live there.
The Sahel - a belt of arid land that stretches across Africa below the Sahara Desert - is a zone prone to cycles of drought, and eight countries are seeing the worst of it this time.
The United Nations estimates that more than 10 million people are in danger of starving to death. Aid workers on the ground say it's getting worse quickly.
In response, UNICEF is launching a 24-hour social media campaign on Tuesday to raise awareness about the food crisis in Africa.
Called #SahelNOW, the campaign asks users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to post messages over the day Tuesday to boost awareness of the problem and the estimated 1 million children in danger. FULL POST
Renegade soldiers in Mali declared Thursday that they have seized power in the West African nation and dissolved public institutions because of the government's handling of an insurgency.
Soldiers wearing fatigues said on state media that they have suspended the constitution, closed the borders and imposed a curfew in the country, which U.S. officials have previously described as "one of the strongest democracies on the continent."
"Considering the incapacity of the regime in effectively fighting against terrorism and restoring dignity to the Malian people, using its constitutional rights, the armed forces of Mali, along with other security forces, have decided to take on their responsibilities to put an end to this incompetent regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure," said Amadou Konare, the spokesman for the soldiers.FULL STORY
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
CNN's John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee traveled to Mauritania to help tell the heartbreaking story of slavery that persists to this day. Their project, Slavery's last stronghold, illustrates both the horrors experienced by enslaved people and the reasons it continues even after being officially abolished by the country.
In a separate blog post, readers commented about the story. It was clear from the conversation that many were strongly affected.
Karen: "I must say this is piece was presented extremely well. Kudos to the design team, reporters, photographers, editors and CNN, but most importantly to those who boldly spoke out and have assisted those in need. The presentation left only one question: What can we do to help?"
Sutter compiled a post with suggestions of where to send donations and how to get involved. CNN iReport is also collecting messages of hope for a school of escaped slaves in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott.
Some readers said they hoped to work toward bettering the lives of others. FULL POST
Despite recent attempts by soldiers in Cameroon to stop the mass slaughter of elephants, poachers are continuing to kill the animals in record numbers, the World Wildlife Fund said Thursday.
Tons of tusks are being moved on camels and horses from Africa mostly to buyers willing to pay high prices in China and Thailand, said Tom Milliken, the director of the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
"Elephants represent an opportunity to gain money, and because there are ready buyers in most capital cities, the word is out there," Milliken said. "[There has been] an increased poaching assault like we haven't seen in two decades."
Poachers who recently killed at least 100 elephants in Cameroon's Bouba N'Djida National Park are reportedly from Chad and Sudan, the WWF said.
Invisible Children, the nonprofit group that produced a hugely popular half-hour documentary about the notorious African warlord Joseph Kony, says it will release a new film Monday to respond to criticism and questions over its approach.
The group's "KONY 2012" video had been viewed more than 72 million times on YouTube by late Sunday night. Invisible Children, based in San Diego, says it wants to make Kony a household name and drum up global support to end the murders, rapes, abuses and abductions committed by the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa.
But with the popularity of the video and kudos to the filmmakers for raising awareness of an African tragedy came a flurry of questions about Invisible Children's intentions, its transparency and whether the social media frenzy was too little, too late.
"There's nothing to hide - Invisible Children has been transparent since 2004, when we started," Ben Keesey, the group's chief executive, said in an interview on "CNN Newsroom" Sunday night. "That's our intention and we want to show that this campaign is part of a model and strategy that's comprehensive."
He said the group planned to release a 10-minute video Monday "that clicks through some of the questions."FULL STORY
A stampede on a university campus in Johannesburg Tuesday left one woman dead and several people injured, according to eyewitness reports.
The victim was the mother of one of many prospective students who had gathered in the early hours to enroll in the University of Johannesburg, according to the African National Congress Youth League, the youth wing of the governing ANC party.
Local media reported that 17 people were also injured.
Thousands of young people and their relatives had gathered outside the campus gates hoping to secure some of the last remaining university places or admission slots for students. Some chose to sleep outside overnight, desperate to sign up.FULL STORY
At least eight people have been killed in a shooting at a church in northeastern Nigeria, a pastor at the church said Friday.
Gunmen attacked the Deeper Life church in Gombe, the capital of Gombe state, on Thursday evening as worshipers held a revival meeting, according to the Venerable Joseph Ninyo, a pastor with the Anglican Diocese of Gombe.
He said 20 people were being treated in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.
"Many tried to run but were gunned down," eyewitness Konson Danladi said. "I was just outside the church when the men came and started shooting and I ran."FULL STORY
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has issued an ultimatum giving Christians living in northern Nigeria three days to leave the area amid a rising tide of violence there.
A Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, also said late Sunday that Boko Haram fighters are ready to confront soldiers sent to the area under a state of emergency declared in parts of four states by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday.
"We will confront them squarely to protect our brothers," Abul Qaqa said during a telephone call with local media. He also called on Muslims living in southern Nigeria to "come back to the north because we have evidence they will be attacked."
Recent weeks have seen an escalation in clashes between Boko Haram and security forces in the north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe, as well as attacks on churches and assassinations. Nearly 30 people were killed on Christmas Day at a Catholic church near the federal capital, Abuja - a sign that Boko Haram is prepared to strike beyond its heartland.FULL STORY
KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) - South Sudan's government has gained control of a remote town that had been under attack by fighters from a rival tribe, the nation's information minister said Monday.
Some of the thousands who fled into the bush have begun to return to Pibor, said Barnaba Benjamin, South Sudan's minister of information and broadcasting.
Earlier Monday, a military official said roughly 4,000 army and police reinforcements were on the way to Pibor after weekend attacks.FULL STORY
The United Nations is deploying peacekeeping troops to the remote town of Pibor in South Sudan, saying it faces an imminent attack by thousands of fighters engaged in ethnic clashes in the war-torn region.
Ethnic tensions in the South Sudan state of Jonglei have been inflamed by tribes fighting over grazing lands and water rights - disagreements that have dissolved into a number of cattle raids during which women and children were abducted.
About 6,000 members of the Lou Nuer tribe are marching on Pibor, home to the Murle tribe, said Lise Grande, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan. An advance group of about 500 fighters have taken up positions outside the town, she said Friday.
"We deemed that there was a very serious risk to civilians (and) in support of the government of South Sudan's primary responsibility to protect civilians, we have gone ahead and deployed a battalion-size force in Pibor with the aim of deterring violence and helping the government to protect its own people," she said.
The deployment of peacekeeping troops follows reports earlier this week that Lou Nuer fighters raided the own of Lukangol, burning it to the ground and forcing thousands to flee toward Pibor.
"We are so alarmed by the situation that during the course of the afternoon we have reinforced our positions in Pibor," Grande said.FULL STORY
The Nigerian senate has passed a bill banning same-sex marriages, defying a threat from Britain to withhold aid from nations violating gay rights.
The bill by Africa's most populous nation calls for a 14-year sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality. Anyone who aids or "abets" same-sex unions faces 10 years in prison, a provision that could target rights groups.
It goes to the nation's House of Representatives for a vote before President Goodluck Jonathan can sign it into law.
"It would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders and anyone else - including friends, families and colleagues - who stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Nigeria," Amnesty International said in a statement.
The bill passed Tuesday comes nearly a month after British prime minister, David Cameron, threatened to withhold aid from nations violating gays rights, sparking outrage in Africa where leaders interpreted it as "colonial" display of power.
Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs.
Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison.
"This is something we raise continually and ... we're also saying that British aid should have more strings attached in terms of 'do you persecute people for their faith or their Christianity or do you persecute people for their sexuality?" Cameron said in a statement.
"We don't think that's acceptable. So look, this is an issue where we want movement, we're pushing for movement, we're prepared to put some money behind what we believe."
Soon after his remarks earlier this month, a flurry of African governments released defiant statements accusing him of undermining their sovereignty and culture.FULL STORY
After seven months of an aerial bombing campaign that helped depose longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, NATO officially ends its mission in Libya on Monday.
NATO's move comes after the United Nations Security Council last week rescinded its March mandate for military intervention to protect civilians targeted during anti-regime protests.
"Libyans have now liberated their country. And they have transformed the region," said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday. "This is their victory."
"Our operation for Libya will end on October 31. Until then, together with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation. And if needed, we will continue to respond to threats to civilians," Rasmussen said.FULL STORY
Militias from the Libyan city of Misrata have beaten and killed displaced residents from the nearby town of Tawergha, accusing them of siding with pro-Gadhafi forces and committing violent crimes in Misrata, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
The rights group said Sunday it interviewed dozens of Tawerghans across the country, including those detained or displaced.
"They gave credible accounts of some Misrata militias shooting unarmed Tawerghans, and of arbitrary arrests and beatings of Tawerghan detainees, in a few cases leading to death."
CNN could not immediately verify the claims.
Local authorities and Misrata residents widely accuse Tawerghans of having committed serious crimes - including murders and rapes - in Misrata with forces loyal to ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Human Rights Watch said.
The group said pro-Gadhafi forces used Tawergha as a base for attacks on Misrata and the surrounding area from March until August. Many Tawerghans supported the 42-year ruler, whose regime claimed that Libyan opposition fighters would enslave Tawerghans if they took power, Human Rights Watch said.FULL STORY
The Lord's Resistance Army, formed in the late 1980s, is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in northern Uganda and South Sudan. It has committed numerous abuses and atrocities such as abducting, raping, maiming and killing civilians, including women and children, according to globalsecurity.org. Its members are known for hacking off the lips and ears of their victims, looting villages and burning huts, and stealing clothes and medicine from the communities they terrorize, CNN has reported.
On Friday, President Barack Obama announced that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the group's leaders.
The Lord's Resistance Army has sought to overthrow the Ugandan government and has contributed to instability across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
It is led by Joseph Kony, who professes to have spiritual powers. He is often "underrated" as a leader, according to a 2011 Jane's report on the group. Kony has claimed to be possessed by spirits who dictate the group's strategy. Jane's notes that the tactic has served him well, enabling him to speak to followers who have mixed beliefs. By portraying himself as a medium with supernatural abilities, his authority becomes harder to question within the ranks.
U.S. military personnel will advise regional forces working to target Kony and other senior leaders. The president said the troops will not engage Kony's forces "unless necessary for self-defense."
The Lord's Resistance Army is sophisticated and less like the ragtag group of fighters it is sometimes portrayed as, Jane's says. It has benefited from the military experience of former Ugandan military officers and years of combat in Sudan.
International aid convoys and non-government organizations operating in the region have been threatened by the Lord's Resistance Army, according to numerous reports. Human Rights Watch, in a letter released in May, urged the U.S. government to step up its effort to protect people from the group.
President Barack Obama is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the notoriously violent Lord's Resistance Army.
"I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield," Obama said in letter to the House Speaker John Boehner and Daniel Inouye, the president pro tempore of the Senate. He was making a reference to the head of the LRA.
"I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa."FULL STORY
On his first visit to Khartoum since his fledgling nation declared independence, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir agreed with his Sudanese counterpart to hold talks to "reach final solutions" to address continuing differences between their countries.
"My government is ready to discuss and reach final solutions on all outstanding issues - mainly the economy, security, borders and Abyei status," Kiir told reporters Sunday.
"We shall work on all these outstanding issues and make sure we sign a final agreement on all of them as soon as possible."
After years of violent strife and a January referendum paving the way for a new state, South Sudan separated from Sudan in July.FULL STORY