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Six stories you may have missed amid US strike in Syria

A round-up of news stories from around the world that may have been blindsided by a US attack on a Syrian airbase.

Adama Barrow

While the US launch of missile strikes against Syria dominated global news on Friday, there were election results in The Gambia, reports of renewed violence in northeast Nigeria and a new round of eurozone talks over Greece - among other news.

Here is a selection of news stories that you may have missed:

 The Gambia: Barrow's party takes majority in parliament  

The party of Adama Barrow, The Gambia's new president, won a majority of seats in new parliament after two decades of domination by the party of ex-leader Yahya Jammeh, the Independent Electoral Commission announced on Friday.

Barrow's United Democratic Party won 31 seats in the 53-seat National Assembly.

Barrow, who beat Jammeh in December elections, has promised a path toward reconciliation and greater freedoms in the tiny West African country. Jammeh's government was long accused of rights abuses.

The former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction party was reduced to five seats, according to results read out by IEC chair Alieu Momarr Njai. He called the vote free and fair.

Various parties that joined together to back Barrow in the December election, but ran separately on Thursday's election won the remaining seats. While more than 880,000 voters were registered to vote, turnout was low. 

Gambia's more than 1.8 million people were ruled for 22 years by Jammeh, whose refusal to leave power brought regional countries to the brink of a military intervention.

His flight into exile in January was a dramatic moment for many in Africa, where a number of leaders have clung to power for decades.

 Nigeria: Military base attacked

Fighters believed to be loyal to a Boko Haram faction on Thursday attacked a military base in Wajirko village, 150km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in the northeast of Nigeria, forcing the soldiers to flee to another base 40km away.

A soldier on Friday told the AFP news agency that four troops were killed and five wounded in the attack, while four more were still missing.

Wajirko resident Bukar Maduye said "the gunmen arrived in pickups and engaged soldiers in the base just outside the village in a heavy shootout. 

"The soldiers were outgunned and forced to withdraw from the base and allowed the gunmen, who were from Mamman Nur faction, to take over the base which they looted and set on fire," he told AFP, adding that villagers were not attacked.

In a separate attack on Wednesday, scores of Boko Haram fighters rode on motorcycles into Abbati, a farming community outside Maiduguri, where they killed seven men and stole 360 livestock.

In recent weeks Boko Haram fighters have intensified raids in areas near Lake Chad.

 Eurozone chief 'positive' on Greek talks breakthrough  

The chief of the eurozone said on Friday that he was "in a positive mood" about a breakthrough in Greece's difficult bailout talks, but stressed an overall political deal could not be reached at Friday's meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers, said before the meeting in Valletta, Malta, that "the good thing is that we have achieved results" over the past days in talks between Greece and its creditors.

Greece has to agree on budget measures to get access to loans. But the talks have dragged on for months, freezing the latest loan payout and hurting chances of an economic recovery after years of recession and turmoil.

Without the bailout deal, Greece would struggle to make a debt payment in July, raising anew the prospect of default.

Greece has depended on international bailouts since 2010. To receive the funds, successive governments slashed incomes, hiked taxes and implemented market reforms, boosting state revenues but also deepening a recession that wiped a quarter off the economy and left nearly one in four workers jobless.

The latest demands by the Eurozone include fresh cutbacks such as new pension cuts, a broadening of the tax base, labour reforms and privatisations.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is pushing for a comprehensive deal that would cover more than just spending cuts and harsh reforms by Greece, but also alleviate the country's debt burden and ease its access later this year to international bond markets.

 South Africa says it was not obliged to arrest Sudan's Bashir 

South Africa is insisting to International Criminal Court (ICC) judges that it did not have to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Johannesburg in 2015.

At a hearing on Friday, lawyers for South Africa said the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, does not oblige authorities to arrest heads of state of countries that are not members of the court, such as Sudan.

South African lawyer Dire Tladi told judges that "there is no duty under international law in general, and in particular under the Rome Statute, on South Africa to arrest a serving head of a non-state party."

ICC prosecutors have charged Bashir with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region, but the court has no police force of its own to arrest him.

 Germany moves to stop public funding for far-right party  

Germany's top security official is proposing a law change to stop National Democratic Party, a far-right party known as NPD, from receiving public funds.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday after consultations with the justice ministry and finance ministry that he'd submitted a proposal for legal amendments to the heads of parties in parliament, where the changes would have to be made.

Germany's supreme court in January rejected a government bid to ban the NPD on accusations it pursued a racist and anti-Semitic agenda. That would have ended public funding.

The party has no seats in parliament, but is represented at the local level and receives money like other parties based upon electoral performance.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas backed de Maiziere's idea, saying "the state must not finance enemies of democracy."

 North and South Korea face off on Pyongyang football field  

South Korea's flag flew and its anthem was played in Pyongyang on Friday as its women's football team took on their neighbours in the first ever competitive soccer match between the two countries hosted by the North.

A packed crowd at the 40,000-plus capacity Kim Il-Sung stadium stood to hear the South Korean national song in respectful silence, before belting out the North's hymn.

Every touch by the home team in attack or defence was cheered to the rafters, with supporters waving golden cardboard megaphones.

The only previous encounter in Pyongyang between footballers from the two sides was a pro-unification match between the men's teams in 1990, when both used a flag showing the whole Korean peninsula and their respective anthems were not played. The North won 2-1.

Since then, games nominally hosted in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, have had to be played on neutral ground due to authorities' reluctance to see the South's flag fluttering in their capital.

The match comes as the North's nuclear ambitions top the agenda at a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping after Pyongyang's latest missile launch this week in violation of UN resolutions and condemned by the Security Council.

The two Koreas are technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, and relations have plunged in recent months. 

Sporting links "have eased anxieties during times of escalating tensions" said Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Culture Exchange, which facilitates exchanges in multiple fields with the North.


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