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  1. Six African states invest heavily in spying - report

    Marco Oriunto

    BBC Focus on Africa radio

    Six African countries are investing heavily in the latest surveillance technology to spy on activists, business competitors, journalists, and other governments, a new report says.

    The Institute of Development Studies, which published the report, identified Nigeria as the biggest spender, with more than $127m (£92m) invested in surveillance-related activities and equipment in 2017.

    Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Sudan have also made significant investments on surveillance technology, the report said.

    Internet signal interception, citizens surveillance, and internet eavesdropping often happen despite laws granting the right to privacy of communication and correspondence, it added.

    "Privacy rights in Africa are very well guaranteed in most countries," Tony Roberts, one of the co-authors of the study, told BBC Focus on Africa radio's Bola Mosuro.

    "However, using this surveillance technology, governments are violating those rights," he added.

    National security and economic interests are cited as the most frequent justifications used by the governments to stretch their surveillance power, often in breach of the rights to privacy of private citizens and civil society organisations.

    Egypt is named as one of the countries with the weakest privacy protection laws. Without an independent oversight body, the state is the only "judge, jury and regulator" says the report.

    "To get governments to value and respect the legislation that does exist. It's important that the public are aware of the rights that they have," Mr Roberts said.

  2. Tigray's capital hit by airstrike again

    Smoke billowing in Mekelle
    Image caption: Witnesses said that Wednesday's strike had hit the property of a company

    Ethiopia's military has carried out an airstrike in Mekille - the main city in the in Tigray region - for the third time this week.

    Government spokesman Legesse Tulu said that Thursday's strike had targeted a military training centre of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the city wth a population of more than 500,000.

    TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda told AFP news agency its defence units had "foiled its [the military's] mission".

    Conflict between the TPLF and the federal government broke out almost a year, causing a massive humanitarian crisis.

    The UN said three children were killed in air strikes on Mekelle on Monday.

    Medics said that eight people - including a pregnant mother - were wounded in strikes on Wednesday.

  3. ‘Explosion’ in Covid infections in Poland

    Adam Easton

    Warsaw Correspondent

    A woman wearing a face mask is seen on 08 October, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland
    Image caption: Mask-wearing is patchy in Poland and vaccination take-up has flat-lined

    The UK is not the only European country seeing a surge in Covid cases. Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe are also experiencing a dramatic rise in infections.

    Here in Poland, we’ve had more than double the amount of cases compared with last week, and Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has called it an “explosion”.

    The number of new daily infections exceeds 5,000 and the amount of people in hospital with Covid is the highest since the start of June.

    Mr Niedzielski said some of the highest infection rates were in regions in eastern Poland with the lowest vaccination take-up.

    Overall, 63% of adults here are fully vaccinated, below the EU average of 74%, and take-up has flat-lined since August. The health minister says he’s instructed police to impose fines on people flouting the rules.

    It’s increasingly common here to see people in shops and on public transport without facemasks.

  4. US indicts Black Axe gang over romance scams

    Romance scam

    The US justice department says it has indicted seven leaders of the Nigeria-headquartered Black Axe gang for running internet dating scams from South Africa.

    An eighth person, suspected of conspiring with a gang leader, had also has been indicted, it said in a statement.

    The eight were arrested in South Arica, following a massive international operation involving the FBI and Interpol.

    The US is expected to request their extradition.

    The Black Axe - also known as the Neo-Black Movement of Africa - was headquartered in Benin City in southern Nigeria, the justice department said.

    "The Black Axe is organized into regional chapters known as 'zones' and the defendants were all leaders within the Cape Town, South Africa, Zone," it added.

    Its leaders were also known by names such as Lord Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Lord Samuel S Nujoma, an apparent reference to the former Presidents of South Africa and Namibia respectively.

    The gang operated from Cape Town from at least 2011, engaging in "widespread internet fraud involving romance scams and advance fee schemes", the justice department said.

    "The conspirators used social media websites, online dating websites, and voice over internet protocol phone numbers to find and talk with victims in the United States, while using a number of aliases," it added.

    The accused have asked for bail in South Africa, and a full hearing is due to be held next week.

    South African authorities have indicated that they would oppose the request.

  5. Nigerian separatist leader makes court appearance

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC News, Abuja

    Getty Images
    Image caption: Nnamdi Kanu is campaigning for the independent state of Biafra

    The trial of Nigerian separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, resumed on Thursday in the capital, Abuja.

    He was charged with terrorism, treason, running an illegal company and publishing defamatory materials.

    The government has amended the charges, but the details have not been made public.

    Mr Kanu, who is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) group, has not yet been asked to plead.

    Various routes leading to the Federal High Court were blocked by security agents ahead of his appearance. Security personnel prevented some lawyers from entering the court.

    The government has amended the charges against him, but the fresh details have not been made public.

    Tension heightened in July when the authorities failed to present him in court for trial.

    Mr Kanu was first arrested in 2015, but he fled Nigeria two years later after the Nigerian army invaded his home. He was rearrested in June this year.

    His lawyers said he was being held in solitary confinement in the custody of the Nigerian secret police.

    Members of his separatist group, who are agitating for a breakaway state in the south-east, have remained active in the region.

    They had earlier threatened to impose a month-long curfew in the region if the government refuses to present their leader to court.

  6. Explosives detonated at Kenya activist's property - report

    Ferdinand Omondi

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Police in Kenya are investigating a report that attackers used explosives to partially bring down a house under construction, belonging to a controversial activist.

    The police confirmed on their official Twitter account that they had received an official complaint of the attack on Boniface Mwangi's property on Wednesday night.

    The report said men allegedly armed with pistols raided the construction site, robbed the workers of their personal belongings, and tried to destroy the house using detonators.

    View more on twitter

    The police say they have visited the scene and have started investigations.

    There are no reports of any injuries.

    The activist now says he is concerned for his safety and that of his family.