Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest.

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Nearly 40 People Killed in Easter Day Attack in Nigeria

On Christmas day several scores were killed in a series of attacks on Christian targets in Nigeria. The radical militant group Boko Haram has struck again… this time on Easter Sunday. “A suicide car bomber killed at least 38 people on Sunday morning on a busy road in the Nigerian city of Kaduna, after apparently turning away from attacking churches holding Easter services. The blast left charred motorcycles and debris strewn across a major road, where many gather to eat at informal restaurants and buy black market petrol. Nearby hotels and homes had their windows blown out and roofs torn away by the force of the explosion. Two churches were badly damaged as churchgoers worshipped at an Easter service, the possible target of the bomber. Witnesses said it appeared the car attempted to enter the compound of the churches, but was blocked by barriers in the street and turned away by a security guard as police approached.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/HBqkUH)

Syria Signals It May Backtrack on Pledge to End Fighting by Tomorrow.

The ceasefire plan — which was negotiated by Kofi Annan and to which Syria agreed to ten days ago — was to kick into place tomorrow. The Syrian military would pull back, then, two days later, the rebels would confirm a halt in their military activities. With a deadline looming in 24 hours, it looks like the deal is falling apart. “Syria’s foreign ministry says it is no longer accurate to assume that it plans to withdraw its forces from cities and towns in line with the United Nations-backed peace plan which is due to take effect tomorrow. President Bashar al-Assad had given assurances to special envoy Kofi Annan and Russia that he would keep the agreement to pull troops and tanks off the streets and implement the ceasefire this week. But as the violence in Syria continues to escalate, he is now demanding written guarantees, firstly from “armed terrorist groups”, that they will do the same. Opposition leaders say it is further proof the Syrian leader has no intention of keeping his word or giving up his grip on power. The Syrian National Council says it is prepared to give such a guarantee but that it will make no difference.” (ABC-Australia http://bit.ly/HBpCad)

Joyce Banda Becomes President of Malawi. Second African Woman President

There was a brief succession crisis when Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika died suddenly last week. The legal successor was the vice president: Joyce Banda. She has now assumed office.  “A champion of women’s rights, Joyce Banda has become the first female head of state in southern Africa after taking over as Malawi’s president following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika. As vice president, the mother of three assumed the top job in the landlocked and impoverished country on Saturday under the terms of the constitution. The 61-year-old cuts a maternal figure that presents a stark contrast to her professorial predecessor, who styled himself the “Economist in Chief.” A winner of national and international awards for her work as a supporter of women’s rights, Banda was last year named by Forbes Magazine as Africa’s third most powerful female politician after Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Nigerian Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.” (MSNBC http://on.msnbc.com/HBsJyP)

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