BBC news 2011-08-27

BBC News with Marion Marshall

At least 18 people are now known to have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a United Nations building in the Nigerian capital Abuja. A radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, said it carried out the bombing. Karen Allen reports.

The admission by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram that it carried out this morning's attack has confirmed the worst fears of security experts. At around 11 o'clock local time, a car forced its way through two checkpoints and rammed into the UN buildings, exploding on impact. Shards of glass were thrown into the air, and one wing of the UN building collapsed to the ground. A number of dead were being seen dragged from the scene. Dozens more are now being treated in hospital in what the Nigerian authorities describe as a cowardly targeted attack.

The Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said his government will spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the bombing as a terrible act.

"On this very sad occasion, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims and their families. The United Nations will undertake every possible effort to assist them during this difficult time."

Mr Ban said he would send his deputy Asha-Rose Migiro to Nigeria immediately.

The rebels in Libya say they are now in almost complete control of the capital Tripoli with just a few pockets of resistance from forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi. There's been some fighting, mainly in and around the international airport, but the centre of the city is mostly quiet. Medical workers in Tripoli have spoken of being totally overwhelmed during the battle for the city. One hospital in the Abu Salim area was abandoned while fighting raged around it. The BBC's Wyre Davies visited the hospital and sent this report.

This is one of the most distressing sights I have ever seen. In this hospital, around the hospital, there are hundreds of dead people - men, women and children. We don't know exactly who they are. Some are civilians; some are fighters; some are apparently African mercenaries. These people were brought to this hospital dead, some alive, some with very bad injuries. People were left here to die, and they have been left in this state now for almost a week. The stench is appalling.

Elsewhere in Libya, the rebels are continuing their preparations for a major assault on Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi's birthplace and a town regarded as his last major stronghold. Troops and artillery have been pouring into the oil port of Ras Lanuf, which rebel forces advancing from the east have made their front line.

The United Nations has said there's an urgent need for civilians to be protected from the Syrian government's use of excessive force. The statement came after the first UN mission was allowed into Syria since anti-government demonstrations began in March. The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used troops and tanks to put down the unrest. The UN says more than 2,200 civilians have been killed.

World News from the BBC

Millions of people living along the east coast of the United States are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, which is due to reach land in the next 24 hours. With widespread flooding and power cuts expected, President Obama has urged Americans to prepare for the worst. Seven states have declared emergencies. The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has ordered a quarter of a million people to leave their homes.

"We are today issuing a mandatory, I repeat the word, mandatory evacuation order for all New Yorkers who live in the low-lying zone A coastal areas in all five boroughs that are at greatest risk of damage relating to Irene."

A court in Bolivia has sentenced seven members of a reclusive conservative Christian group to 25 years in prison for raping more than 100 women. The men were members of the Mennonite community, which rejects modern inventions such as cars and electricity. Mattia Cabitza reports from Santa Cruz.

The court heard that the convicted men had sprayed a potent sedative through the windows of their victims homes, and left entire families unconscious and vulnerable to abuse. Acting at night while the community was asleep, the men broke in and raped more than 100 women, children and adolescents. The youngest was nine years old.

A Greek shipping company says pirates in Somalia have released an oil tanker and its crew after holding them for nearly 10 months. The company, Paradise Navigation, gave no details of whether a ransom had been paid. It said one crewman had died of a stroke while being held captive.

Footballers in Italy have announced a strike, which means that the opening matches of the new first division season scheduled for this weekend will be postponed. Players are demanding that their clubs pay a new super tax on high earners imposed by the Italian government as part of its latest austerity package. Spanish footballers staged a strike over pay last weekend.

BBC News.