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His Plan: Ride Across Africa. He Was Captured in Timbuktu

The story of Johan Gustafsson's nearly 6 years with al-Qaeda

(Newser) - Johan Gustafsson spent more than five years learning Arabic, French, and local African languages. The alternative might have been going mad. Gustafsson was abducted from his hotel terrace in Timbuktu, Mali, on Nov. 25, 2011, reports the Local . The then-36-year-old had been in the city just 24 hours, as part... More »

Stunning Sight in Sahara: Snow

Algerian town just got its first major snowfall in 37 years

(Newser) - Perhaps Mother Nature drank a bit too much eggnog on Monday because she delivered a blanket of snow on one of the hottest and driest spots on the planet. The town of Ain Sefra, Algeria, on the northern tip of the Sahara desert—where temperatures can reach 122 degrees—was... More »

20 Children Ditched by Smugglers Perish in Sahara

They were part of a group of 34 migrants

(Newser) - A group of nearly three dozen migrants, most of them kids, paid smugglers to whisk them out of Niger and Nigeria and to a new life to the north—but instead paid the ultimate price. The five men, nine women, and 20 minors were found dead Sunday in the Sahara,... More »

Water Once Flowed Across the Sahara—and Might Again

New images reveal an ancient river system running through the desert

(Newser) - The Sahara wasn't much of a desert a while back. Satellite images have confirmed the existence of a river network that spanned hundreds of miles and made the region habitable for plants, animals, and humans as recently as 5,000 years ago, according to a French study in Nature... More »

Amazon Jungle's Nutrient Source: Dead African Fish

Researchers: Powdered bones, scales are feeding Amazon—for now

(Newser) - Researchers have made one of the strangest-sounding discoveries in a while: Long-dead African fish are helping feed the Amazon. How, you ask? Well, millions of tons of dust blow west from the Sahara Desert across the Atlantic Ocean each year. The dust, which acts as a natural fertilizer where it... More »

72 Women, Kids Rescued in Sahara

Group was stranded when truck broke down

(Newser) - A delegation on its way to visit the burial place of 92 migrants who died of thirst in northern Niger saved 72 women and children from dying in the same unforgiving part of the Sahara. The group, 20 women and 52 children, were on their way back from Algeria when... More »

Desert Yields Bodies of 92 Thirst Victims

Thousands try cross-Sahara journey seeking work

(Newser) - Earlier reports suggested that about 35 people , apparently migrants seeking work, had died of thirst in a Niger desert—but the remains of more than double that number have been discovered by rescue teams, reports the AP . The 92 highly decomposed bodies appeared to have been scavenged by jackals, rescue... More »

Dozens Die of Thirst After Desert Stranding

5 bodies discovered following vehicle's breakdown near Sahara

(Newser) - Statements don't get much bleaker than this: "About 40 Niger people, including numerous children and women, who were attempting to emigrate to Algeria, died of thirst in mid-October." That's what the mayor of Agadez, Niger, tells the AFP , which reports that one of two vehicles carrying... More »

How Dust From the Sahara Ends up in S. America

A giant dust cloud currently headed across the Atlantic

(Newser) - Once or twice a week in late spring and summer, gusts of wind send dust from the Sahara Desert flying across the Atlantic Ocean, in what's known as the Saharan Air Layer. But a particularly concentrated dust cloud is currently midair, en route to land in Central and South... More »

Once-Green Sahara Turned to Dust Quickly

Change occurred 5K years ago, over a century or two

(Newser) - You wouldn't know it from looking around today, but the Sahara desert was once a lush, green wonderland of lakes, vegetation, and animals. And then poof, relatively speaking, it turned into the desert we know today. Researchers studying 30,000 years of dust sediment off the coast of Africa... More »

Niger (Yes, Next to Mali) to Host US Drones

Deal opens possibility of US military presence

(Newser) - Niger's president has agreed to let the US use the country—which borders Mali—as a base for surveillance drones, a source tells Reuters . The drones would be used to spy on militants with al-Qaeda ties in Mali and the Sahara as a whole, according to the insider, who... More »

Algeria Vows al-Qaeda Crackdown

Says Canadians masterminded raid

(Newser) - Algeria's prime minister yesterday promised that his country would dedicate itself to fighting al-Qaeda in the wake of a disastrous hostage rescue that left 38 workers dead , including three Americans. "There is clear political will" to fight terrorism, Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters. He also said that a Canadian... More »

Martian Rock Found in Sahara Thrills Experts

2B-year-old stone holds more water than others

(Newser) - After a rock from Mars was discovered in the Sahara desert, scientists investigated it for a year—and they're fascinated by what they've learned. At an estimated two billion years old, the rock is older than most Martian meteorites and holds more water, the AP reports. And it... More »

In Florida Skies This Week: Saharan Dust

Annual visitor helped along by trade winds

(Newser) - Residents of South Florida this week might find the sky a little hazier and the temperature a little higher, and they can thank the African Sahara. As the Miami Herald explains, desert dust will be making an appearance, a regular summer event. The dust particles travel across the ocean on... More »

Terror's New Home: Africa

Islamist network stretches across continent, taking refuge in Sahara

(Newser) - On Christmas day, a car full of explosives plowed into a Catholic Church in Nigeria, killing dozens of people . A radical Muslim group named Boko Haram proudly claimed credit, saying it was trying to kill Christians. As recently as 2009, Boko Haram was a local Nigerian group, bloodily crafting a... More »

100M Years Ago, Africa Was Crocodile Central

3 new species unearthed from Sahara include DogCroc

(Newser) - The universe of diverse prehistoric crocodile species keeps expanding, suggesting crocs were one of the dominant forms of life 100 million years ago. Paleontologists have just unearthed three new species in the Sahara desert: the 20-foot BoarCroc, which likely fed on dinosaurs; the 20-foot PancakeCroc, a flat-bodied fish-gobbler; and the... More »

Architect: Mix Bacteria, Sand for Wall to Stop Sahara

Architect proposes solidifying sand dunes in belt across Africa

(Newser) - With the spread of the Sahara desert threatening the livelihoods of millions in Africa, architect Magnus Larsson proposes solidifying sand into a 3,700-mile wall, the BBC reports. Speaking at a conference today in England, Larsson outlined a plan to saturate sand dunes in a line stretching from Mauritania to... More »

Rare Cheetah Spotted in Sahara

Camera-trap snaps 'incredibly elusive' subspecies

(Newser) - An incredibly rare and elusive Saharan cheetah has been caught on camera in the Algerian desert, reports the Daily Telegraph. Fewer than 250 of the animals are believed to exist. Zoological Society of London researchers obtained the camera-trap photos as part of a project to systematically survey life in the... More »

Egypt Hunts for Kidnapped Tourists

Group including Europeans, Egyptians taken into neighboring Sudan

(Newser) - A group including 11 European tourists kidnapped Friday in Egypt has been taken across the southern border into neighboring Sudan, officials told the Associated Press today. The kidnappers have demanded as much as $15 million for the release of the German, Italian, and Romanian tourists and their Egyptian guides; Egypt's... More »

Sahara Yields Ancient Cemetery

Find shows desert was once lush, green, populated

(Newser) - Explorers hunting for dinosaur bones have found a Stone Age cemetery deep in the Sahara desert, National Geographic reports. The team of paleontologists discovered bones from two separate ancient human cultures that lived in the region as long as 10,000 years ago, when monsoon rains turned parts of the... More »

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