CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

At gathering, rebels choose new leader

A gathering of hundreds of Muslim fighters who once controlled Central African Republic has chosen a new leader, one rebel said Friday, amid fears the movement is gathering strength again.

The group known as Seleka appointed Gen. Joseph Zindeko, who was once commander of a rebel base in the capital, the new head of the movement, according to Col. Mahamat Deya.

Seleka was forced from power in January nearly a year after its fighters overthrew the president. Christian militias have sprung up, saying they are seeking revenge for atrocities committed during Seleka's rule and plunging the country into sectarian violence.

Around 2,000 French troops and nearly 5,000 African peacekeepers are trying to stabilize Central African Republic. - AP

VATICAN CITY

Abuse victims' plea

Italian victims of sex abuse by priests appealed directly to Pope Francis for justice Friday, calling for a commission of inquiry into the problem in the Vatican's backyard. In letters and a video posted online, 17 survivors denounced the treatment they have received by the Italian Catholic Church and the Vatican itself. Half of them are former students of a notorious school for the deaf in Verona where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted. - AP
GHANA

Fatal copter crash

A helicopter carrying personnel to an offshore oil rig crashed Thursday off the coast of Ghana, killing at least three people. A fourth person is presumed dead, said Kwame Mamphey, director general of the West African nation's Civil Aviation Authority. Four people survived the crash and are in hospitals. - AP