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By Julia Payne ABUJA (Reuters) - Three decades after he first came to power in a military coup, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in on Friday as elected President of Nigeria, giving him control of an African giant struggling with slowing economic growth and a raging Islamist insurgency. Moments later, dozens of white doves were released into the air, a symbol of peace against the Boko Haram militants who have killed thousands in the last six years in their quest to carve out an Islamic caliphate in the northeast. The formal swearing-in marks a remarkable political turn-around for Buhari, who has gone from military dictator in the mid-1980s to a born-again democrat swept to power on the back of a landslide victory at the ballot box in March.
Insurgents who captured the last government-held town in Syria's Idlib province celebrated inside on Friday and made more advances in surrounding areas, in a further blow to the stretched army and allied militia. The "Army of Fatah" alliance which includes al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front, the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group and other factions, captured Ariha town on Thursday night as the Syrian military pulled back. The army has lost large parts of the northwestern province to insurgents since late March, when the provincial capital fell to Army of Fatah, a name which refers to Islamic conquest.