NIGERIA: Sect frees 119 prisoners

Gunmen from the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram stormed a federal prison amid heavy gunfire and explosions, killing a guard and freeing 119 inmates in an assault marking its growing national ambitions, officials said Thursday. The sect claimed it freed seven followers in the attack just after 7 p.m. Wednesday in the town of Koton-Karifi in Kogi state, south of Abuja. The gunmen blasted through the prison's gate with a bomb, officials said. Those inside the prison escaped in the fighting, though authorities had recaptured about 25 of them by late Thursday afternoon, an official said.


PAKISTAN: Karzai asks for help in talks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is appealing for Pakistan's help in negotiating a peace deal with Taliban militants ahead of a summit that is to include the leader of Iran. The meetings in Islamabad come at a time when momentum for peace talks with the Taliban seems to be growing, even as all parties to a stuttering process marked by intense mistrust say success in ending the 10-year war in Afghanistan is far from certain. Karzai told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Thursday that talks among the United States, the Afghans and the Taliban had taken place in the past month. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied, however, that any negotiations had already taken place.


HONDURAS: Prison leaders suspended

National prison system director Danilo Orellana and other prison officials were suspended Thursday by President Porfirio Lobo following a fire that tore through a prison in Comayagua, killing 355 people, many yet to even be charged with a crime, much less convicted. The deadly blaze has exposed deep government dysfunction and confusion in a small Central American country with the world's highest murder rate.

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