By Emmanuel Braun BANGUI (Reuters) - Heavy and small arms fire rang out in the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, the heaviest clashes in Bangui for months, hours before a U.N. vote is due to authorize a French mission to restore order. Former rebels controlling the city scrambled fighters in the direction of the gunfire and said they had come under attack from local militia and fighters loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize. "There has been gunfire all over town," Amy Martin, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui, told Reuters. Michel Djotodia, leader of the Seleka former rebel alliance, is now the country's interim president but he has struggled to control his loose band of fighters, many of whom are gunmen from neighboring Chad and Sudan.
Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a police intelligence headquarters and a nearby shopping mall in a coordinated attack in the northern city of Kirkuk late on Wednesday, killing 11 people and wounding 70, police and medical sources said. Two suicide bombers armed with sniper rifles entered the shopping complex, took control of it and captured around 15 shoppers as hostages, police said. After a gun battle, one suicide bomber blew himself up and the other was shot dead by Kurdish security forces who took over the operation from local police. "I was inside my home when there was a big explosion, our house was shaking and the windows shattered," said a man who gave his name as Abu Ahmed who lives next to the mall.
Adelaide (Australia) (AFP) - A leaping catch by Graeme Swann shortly before close of play kept England in contention against Australia on the opening day of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide on Thursday. The Australians, one-up in the series, looked in control at 257 for four nearing stumps, before Swann held a flying catch two-handed at square leg to dismiss the threatening George Bailey for 53. Bailey had looked set for a substantial score batting with skipper Michael Clarke before he hooked paceman Stuart Broad to Swann, whose brilliant piece of fielding meant the day finished with honours even. At the close, Australia were 273-5 after winning the toss with Clarke, who boasts a ground average of more than 100, on 48 and Brad Haddin on seven.