Africa

In pictures: Focus on Africa in 2014

A selection of the most striking news images from the African continent this year:

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The leader of the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group in the Central African Republic (CAR), Michel Djotodia, resigned as the country's president in January under intense diplomatic pressure, accused of failing to stop anti-Christian attacks during his nine months in power. But this did not end the violence in the fragile nation…
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Revenge attacks against Muslim communities began as the Seleka fighters - one seen here adjusting a broken guitar string - moved northwards. The country is now split into a mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south. More than 20% of people have fled their homes in the two years of violence.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption At the peak of the crisis, the airport camp in the capital, Bangui, hosted up to 70,000 people fleeing Christian "anti-balaka" militias - and according to the UN 20,000 are still there. Many fled in a monthly convoy guarded by African Union peacekeepers to Cameroon's border. The peace mission has now been formally taken over by the UN.
Image copyright AFP/AU UN IST
Image caption The Somali government's fight against al-Shabab has continued; its troops and AU soldiers - who use surveillance drones like this one - have captured all the remaining lucrative ports under the militants' control. The insurgents still launch attacks on the capital, twice breaching the security at the president's palace, the first time in February. But they suffered a major blow later in the year when their leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in US air strikes.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The world was captivated by the trial in South Africa of Oscar Pistorius which began in March. The Paralympic athlete denied deliberately shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Her mother, June, attended much of the trial in the court in Pretoria where the judge eventually found the double amputee guilty of culpable homicide.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In April, Boko Haram militants in north-eastern Nigeria abducted more than 200 girls from their boarding school in the town of Chibok. Here a mother holds up a photo of her missing 17-year-old daughter as she and her son sit in their home in Maiduguri…
Image copyright AP
Image caption The kidnappings sparked a worldwide campaign calling for their release, but the girls have not yet been freed. The militants have gone on to capture huge swathes of territory in the north-east where local hunters - like this man pictured in Yola - have been forming vigilante groups to protect their communities from attack.
Image copyright GCIS
Image caption A radical new South African party launched by firebrand leader Julius Malema, who was expelled by the African National Congress, gained 6% of the vote in elections in May. Its 25 MPs turned up to be sworn in at parliament wearing red overalls or maids' uniforms - to show they intended to represent the interest of workers.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Elections were also held in Egypt in May, with former head of the armed forces, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, becoming president. Later in the year, Ramadan lanterns made in his likeness were on sale in a market in Cairo.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fans took part in celebrations across Algeria in June when their team qualified for the knock-out phase of the World Cup for the first time. With Nigeria also making it through, it was the first time Africa had two teams in the round of 16. But the continent's performance in Brazil was ultimately overshadowed by off-pitch controversies.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Other sporting events on the continent this year included a traditional wrestling tournament in the Ivorian city of Abidjan with competitors from around West African taking part…
Image copyright EPA
Image caption And South Africa hosted an event for the Red Bull X-Fighters motorbike stunt-riding World Tour in Pretoria. Here a rider was flying high, surprising a giraffe, during a practice session ahead of the competition.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption For South Africa's rhinos, it was another bad year, with poachers killing more 1,000 of the animals for their horn which is prized in China and Vietnam. It is a record high and activists warn that rhino deaths will soon overtake births.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption July marked the 15th anniversary of the Moroccan monarch's accession to the throne - and delegates from different regions of the North African country attended a ceremony to mark the event at Mohammed VI's palace in Rabat.
Image caption South Sudan also marked its three years of independence in July. But there was little to celebrate following six months of fighting - what started as a political squabble between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into ethnic violence. Nearly two million people have fled their homes, some to UN camps...
Image copyright Kieran Doherty/Oxfam
Image caption And many families arriving in host communities - like here in Melut, Upper Nile State - have found themselves destitute, without belongings or a means of making money. The warring sides are attending regional talks to form a transitional government but have yet to commit to peace.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption West Africa's Ebola outbreak has had devastating effect on the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In August, the World Health Organization declared it an international health emergency. Health-workers wearing what look like space suits have been the enduring image of the endemic…
Image copyright EPA
Image caption More than 7,000 people have so far died of the virus this year. In Liberia's capital, Monrovia, Alfred Sirleaf, who edits a chalkboard newspaper called Daily Talk, has been scoring the world's response to the Ebola outbreak.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Melilla, which borders Morocco, is a crossing point for migrants seeking to get to Europe. Here some try to scale a fence near golfers in the Spanish enclave. In September, the International Organization for Migration said that 2014 had seen a resurgence in "fence-storming", often involving 1,000 migrants, causing injuries and sometimes fatalities.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption In October people took to the streets in Burkina Faso for several days in mass protests as MPs were about to approve an amendment to the constitution to allow Blaise Compaore to stand for election as president again next year…
Image copyright AFP
Image caption On the day of the planned vote, protesters set the parliament alight and the following day Mr Compaore resigned, ending his 27-year-rule of the West African nation…
Image copyright AFP
Image caption He sought refuge in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian capital and home to the world's largest church. Burkina Faso's interim leaders have said they will request his extradition so Mr Compaore can face questions over the death of his popular predecessor Thomas Sankara.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Instability in oil-rich Libya is as its worst since the overthrow of long-serving ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The lawlessness has led to an increase in drug and alcohol trafficking - as this haul of smuggled whisky at Tripoli's port shows - despite it being illegal to drink alcohol…
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The country has also been divided between two rival governments this year, with the supreme court invalidating the country's internationally recognised parliament in November. Earlier, Islamist-leaning militants forced the MPs to flee the capital, Tripoli, and set up in the eastern city of Tobruk instead.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The end of the year saw a dramatic purge in Zimbabwe's ruling party, in a campaign led by the first lady Grace Mugabe. In December, she was confirmed as the head of the party's women's wing at the Zanu-PF congress, where delegates dressed up for the occasion...
Image copyright AFP
Image caption But Kinshasa must remain the city for those serious about fashion. Here a "sapeur", a member of the society that believes in elegant dressing, poses in a market in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is one of the rare women in the Sape movement, where designer outfits are a must.