MALI
Runoff vote marked
by heavy security

Malians voted Sunday in a runoff presidential election to determine whether incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will remain in office in this sprawling West African nation threatened by rising extremist violence. He faced off against opposition leader Soumaila Cisse.

The turnout was low amid attacks and threats of violence by Islamist extremists.

The chairman of Arkodia village in the north Niafunke commune in the Timbuktu region was killed, four election workers were physically harassed and the polling station there was burned, according to the Citizen Observation Pool of Mali, which had more than 2,000 observers. The organization reported several incidents Sunday.

More than 50 polling stations in north and central Mali had closed before noon because of the extremist threat, the group said.

In the July 29 first-round presidential vote, extremists killed three election workers and destroyed some voting materials.

Mali has grown more insecure since Keita beat Cisse in a second-round election in 2013.

Extremists are staging more bold attacks that have spread to central Mali, where both Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked militants are present. Deadly ethnic clashes and accusations of heavy-handed counterterrorism operations have caused even deeper tensions and mistrust of the state.

Still, a second term seems likely for Keita, who is 73. He received 41.7 percent of the vote in the first round from a field of 24 candidates.

— Associated Press

ETHIOPIA
Rebels declare truce amid Abiy's overtures

An Ethiopian rebel group declared a unilateral cease-fire on Sunday, the latest dissident movement to aim for an end to hostilities in the wake of reforms.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) launched its bid for secession of the Somali region, also known as Ogaden, in eastern Ethiopia in 1984. In 2007, Ethiopian forces waged a large-scale offensive against the rebels after the group attacked a Chinese-run oil facility, killing 74 people.

The ONLF and two other groups were removed from a list of banned movements as part of a policy shift being led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April and has extended an olive branch to dissidents.

In a statement Sunday, the ONLF said it had “taken into account the positive steps taken by the Ethiopian government to lay the groundwork for talks and peaceful negotiations.”

The group “will cease all military and security operations to find [an] available and lasting solution to the Ogaden conflict,” it added.

Since assuming office, Abiy has acknowledged and condemned widespread abuses by security forces and forged peace with Eritrea, with which Addis Ababa has been locked in a lengthy military standoff that followed a 1998-2000 border war.

— Reuters

Pakistan detains 8 Chinese over possession of firearms: Police in Pakistan said they have detained eight Chinese nationals who tried to enter a power plant with weapons in Punjab province. Officer Zafar Iqbal said the eight men were stopped at a checkpoint outside the Qadirabad plant after a pump-action gun, a handgun, a rifle and ammunition were found in their vehicle. China has heavily invested in energy and other projects across Pakistan and has sent thousands of workers to the country.

Brotherhood leader sentenced to another life term in Egypt: An Egyptian court sentenced five people, including the head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, to life in prison on violence-related charges. It was the latest of several life sentences for Mohammed Badie, who has also been sentenced to death in separate trials since his 2013 arrest. The case is related to the violence that convulsed Egypt after the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood figure, amid mass protests five years ago.

Chinese tourist killed in hippo attack in Kenya: A Chinese tourist was attacked and killed by a hippo as he was taking pictures on the edge of Lake Naivasha in Kenya's Rift Valley, just hours after a local fisherman was mauled to death in the same area, authorities said. A second Chinese tourist was injured in the incident, the Kenya Wildlife Service said. The deaths brought to six the number of people who have been killed by hippos around Lake Naivasha this year. A wildlife service spokesman said the circumstances in which the two Chinese were attacked are not clear.

— From news services