Related Gunmen attempt to rescue Islamist militants in Niger French and Niger forces killed three gunmen in a convoy carrying drugs and heavy weapons in Niger close to the Libyan border, the French army said on Monday, as its troops step up efforts to stop militants crisscrossing the Sahel-Sahara region.Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamist fighters in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali in 2013, has deployed thousands of troops across West Africa to form a counter-terrorism force and prevent trafficking in the region.The army said in a statement that on May 14 two pick-up trucks attempted to force their way through a checkpoint set up by about 200 French and Niger troops.“The occupants of the vehicles attempted to drive through and responded to warning shots by violently opening fire,” it said. “Amid the fighting, three people in the convoy were killed and three others were captured and handed to the Niger army.”It said 1.5 tonnes of drugs and weapons, including submachine guns, were recovered as well as communications equipment.France has set up a base at Madama in northern Niger to monitor the Salvador Pass trafficking route that leads from southern Libya to northern Mali.More than 3,000 French troops are now operating out of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — countries straddling the vast arid Sahel band — with the aim of stamping out Islamist fighters across the region.The French operation, dubbed Barkhane after the name of a kind of sand dune formed by desert winds, has set up its headquarters in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, but also placed an outpost in northern Chad about 200 km from the Libyan border.French officials have said for several months they are concerned by events in Libya, warning that the political void in the north is creating favourable conditions for al Qaeda-linked fighters to regroup in the barren south of the country.They have also said that failure to conclude a peace deal between the Malian government and separatist rebels is helping traffickers restore their previous networks in the region.– (Reuters) Gunmen Attack UN Base in Northern Mali Nigeria: Niger Delta Gunmen Kill Nine
They did so just before the hour mark, with Peter Whittingham putting the finishing touch on a flowing passing move. Striker Danny Graham had the best chances to add to Hull’s tally – missing a yawning net in the sixth minute and heading straight at Joe Lewis deep in added time. Indeed, Davies’ goal is Hull’s only one from open play to date and Bruce can track the issue back to last year’s promotion campaign when Graham was not even at the KC Stadium. “At this level if you don’t take your chances it’s tough,” he said. “Last year it was our Achilles heel too…the number of times I sat here (with a 1-0) and we could have had two, three, four goals. “It’s got to be a concern because we created really good chances. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. “On another day we would quite easily have won the game but at this level you don’t get chances as good as the ones we had too frequently. “We have to improve on that. As a team we have to chip in, not just the strikers.” Press Association Hull went into the match with three defenders but no outright strikers on the bench, leaving George Boyd as their most attacking substitute. That says something about the current standing of Matty Fryatt and Nick Proschwitz, who are both available to leave on loan, and left Bruce eager for summer signing Yannick Sagbo to return from suspension. The Ivorian was sent off for an attempted headbutt on his home debut against Norwich but is available for next week’s meeting with Newcastle. “Sagbo is back, which is good because that gives us another bit of firepower and we haven’t really seen him yet,” he added. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay came away reasonably content with his side’s efforts, especially given the number of air miles his men had collected in the previous 10 days. Nine of his players were called away on international duty, a result of squad strengthening since promotion from the Championship, with two – Craig Bellamy and David Marshall – missing the trip to Hull after picking up injuries. Others, such as Gary Medel and Kim Bo-kyung, came back from gruelling trips to Chile and South Korea to put in solid displays. “They (Bellamy and Marshall) are key players for us and we lost the two guys: that is the flip side of having top-quality footballers,” said Mackay. “We had three or four who had been on planes, trains and automobiles to get here for the game and at times I thought that showed. “But it was probably a fair point for both teams, we both tried to go and win it. “There were two teams going hard at it and it proved to be a tough game, so it was a well deserved point for both teams.” Hull manager Steve Bruce admits he is still not certain whether his side will score enough goals to achieve their aim of Barclays Premier League survival. The Tigers banked their fourth point of the season in as many matches with Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff. It was a fixture Bruce had targeted as a potential win but although things began well with defender Curtis Davies nodding home Tom Huddlestone’s cross in the 40th minute, the Bluedbirds always looked likely to equalise.
USC is coming into national signing day with what could be one of its most promising recruiting classes in recent history, but many uncertainties remain, especially after a slew of decommits on Tuesday.USC had eight verbal commitments on Tuesday morning, but that number is down to five after Jalen Ramsey — a five-star cornerback on Rivals.com — and four-star defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Torrodney Prevot informed USC that they will no longer sign with the Trojans.Pressure is on · Head coach Lane Kiffin is hoping to come away with a top-ten recruiting class when the dust settles on Wednesday. — Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanUSC has room for 18 new players this season. Seven players have already enrolled early for the spring, making those players, headed by five-star quarterback Max Browne and five-star safety Su’a Cravens, a lock for the Trojans. For the rest of the recruiting class, nothing is binding until a letter of intent is faxed in today. With five verbal commitments, USC currently has six spots to fill.After losing both defensive ends in its recruiting class, USC has its eyes set on defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, a five-star recruit who decommitted from the Trojans on Dec. 27.Vanderdoes, the No. 2-ranked defensive tackle from Placer High, is now considering Alabama, Notre Dame and UCLA alongside USC. He visited Alabama’s campus on Saturday and voiced his satisfaction with the program on Twitter.Vanderdoes will announce his school choice at 5 p.m. PST.Four-star outside linebacker Quinton Powell is considered a favorite to sign with USC. Powell, a good friend and former teammate of USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams at Mainland High, had narrowed down his decision to either USC or Florida on his Twitter, but the Gators revoked their scholarship offer to Powell on Saturday.Powell has extended his options to include South Carolina, Oregon and Miami and will announce his decision on ESPNU at 9:15 a.m.USC has an outside chance at landing five-star defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who visited USC in December but currently has a verbal commitment with Alabama. Robinson will announce his choice at 12:30 p.m.The Trojans are also hoping to catch five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas, who visited USC on Jan. 18 and has the Trojans on a list that includes Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and Miami. Thomas will announce his decision on ESPNU at 6:15 a.m.Ramsey had been committed to the Trojans since July of last year, but the commitment was especially precarious after USC fired defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders in January. He announced his intent to sign with Florida State on Tuesday.Prevot committed to the Trojans in July 2012, but after favorable visits last week to Texas A&M and Oregon, Prevot will likely sign with either the Aggies or the Ducks.This is the second time that Hatcher has decommitted from the Trojans in the last two weeks. He first decommitted from the Trojans on Jan. 22 but recommitted to USC on Jan. 29, after hosting an in-home visit with USC coach Lane Kiffin, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and receivers coach Tee Martin.On Tuesday, Hatcher’s mother announced that he will sign with Kentucky.Along with Hatcher, Prevot, Ramsey and Vanderdoes, USC lost verbal commitments from five-star athlete Max Redfield, four-star defensive end Kylie Fitts and four-star wide receivers Eldridge Massington and Sebastian LaRue. Redfield, Massington and LaRue are currently committed to Notre Dame, UCLA and Texas A&M, respectively.USC currently has five verbal commits from offensive linemen Nico Falah and Khaliel Rodgers, linebacker Michael Hutchings, wide receiver Steven Mitchell and running back Ty Isaac.Each player is a four-star recruit aside from Isaac, a five-star recruit. Hutchings, Isaac, Mitchell and Rodgers are considered solid commits.Hindered by NCAA sanctions until the 2015 season, USC is restricted to offering 15 scholarships a year instead of 25 and can have a total of 75 players on scholarship rather than 85.