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Bombings kill seven in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria - A suicide bomber and a man armed with explosives attacked two Nigerian newspaper offices on Thursday, killing seven people and wounding at least 26. The radical Islamic sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

Boko Haram said it coordinated the attacks on Nigeria's major daily newspaper ThisDay in the capital, Abuja, and an office building it shares with two other newspapers in the city of Kaduna. It threatened to target other journalists in the future, alleging inaccurate coverage.

In Abuja, the suicide bomber rammed his car through the gates of the ThisDay office and drove into the reception area before the explosion, said Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, a spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross. The blast killed at least three people and wounded others, Nwakpa said.

The attack in Kaduna also included a car loaded with explosives at an office building ThisDay shares with the Moment and the Daily Sun newspapers. At least four people died, Nwakpa said. Authorities arrested the bomber. - AP

Bloc sending troops to Mali

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast - West Africa's regional bloc will be sending at least 3,000 troops to Mali to retrain and re-equip the country's military following last month's coup, officials said late Thursday.

Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, the president of the commission of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, said the group had authorized the immediate deployment of a standby force to Mali.

Mutinous soldiers overthrew the country's democratically elected president last month. The junta has since handed over power to an interim civilian government as part of a deal brokered by ECOWAS. -AP

U.N. team views Syrian blast site

BEIRUT - U.N. observers on Thursday inspected the site of an explosion that flattened a block of houses in the central Syrian city of Hama and killed at least 16 people, while the government and the opposition traded blame over the cause of the blast.

Syrian state-run media said rebel bomb-makers accidentally set off the explosives. Anti-regime activists said intense shelling by government forces caused the extensive damage. It was impossible to independently verify the conflicting accounts because President Bashar al-Assad's regime has restricted access for journalists and other outside witnesses.

The spokesman for U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, said observers visited the site but he had no immediate word on what they saw. - AP

Libyan rulers fire new cabinet

TRIPOLI, Libya - Libya's interim ruling council has fired the nation's cabinet just five months after it took office, citing incompetence, two senior officials said Thursday, just two months before the country's first national election.

National Transitional Council official Fathi Baja told the Associated Press that 65 of the NTC's 72-members approved a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib in a meeting Wednesday. - AP