- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2005

IRAQ

Al Qaeda: Zarqawi in good health

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iraq’s al Qaeda said yesterday its leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was in good health and was back leading operations in Iraq after being wounded, according to a statement posted on the Internet.

Conflicting statements about the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq had appeared on the Internet recently after the militant group announced Tuesday that Zarqawi had been wounded.

ROMANIA

Iraqi guide charged in kidnap

BUCHAREST — A Romanian court issued arrest warrants yesterday in the kidnappings of three journalists in Iraq, saying the abductions were plotted by the Iraqi-American guide who claimed to be a victim and the businessman who claimed to be negotiating their release.

Prosecutors said testimony from nine persons arrested in Baghdad led them to seek terrorism charges against Mohammed Monaf, the journalists’ guide, and Mr. Monaf’s business partner, Omar Hayssam.

The two men plotted the kidnapping while in Romania and their motivation was that Mr. Hayssam, one of Romania’s wealthiest businessman, was under investigation for financial wrongdoing, prosecutors said. He apparently hoped that “saving” the journalists would help him get clemency, they said.

ZIMBABWE

Police raze shacks in poor townships

HARARE — Police demolished squatter homes and rounded up street vendors, leaving thousands homeless in Zimbabwe’s opposition strongholds in what President Robert Mugabe insisted was an urban cleanup campaign.

All the demolished homes were in areas that voted for the opposition in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections. Morgan Tsvangirai, an opposition leader, said the destruction was an assault on the urban poor who make up its support base. Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party claimed victory in the disputed vote on March 31.

State radio said yesterday that Mr. Mugabe, in his first comment on the crackdown called “Operation Marambatsvina” or “drive out trash,” told the ruling party central committee that “genuine players in the small and medium enterprise sector would be resettled in new and clean sites that befit major cities.”

SOUTH AFRICA

Court censors newspaper expose

JOHANNESBURG — A South African court has gagged a leading weekly newspaper from printing an expose on a local oil company, drawing complaints yesterday that press freedom had been dealt a blow.

Printing presses were silent Thursday night after the Johannesburg High Court issued an order against the weekly Mail et Guardian not to print a story saying that a state oil company paid millions in taxpayers’ money to the ruling African National Congress.

The paper was planning to run a follow-up story to last week’s “Oilgate” report, which disclosed that oil company Imvume paid $1.6 million to the ANC.

“We have been gagged,” said the newspaper’s editor, Ferial Haffajee.

RUSSIA

Chechen owns up to power outage

MOSCOW — Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev took responsibility for a power outage that caused chaos in Moscow, plunging entire neighborhoods into darkness and stranding thousands of subway passengers, a rebel-linked Web site said yesterday.

Russian officials insist that worn-out equipment caused the power failure, which began with an explosion and fire at a 40-year-old substation and affected the capital and surrounding region. But the warlord has a history of striking at new and spectacular targets in his terrorist campaign.

ISRAEL

4 Palestinians held for carrying bombs

NABLUS, West Bank — Israeli troops yesterday arrested four Palestinian men trying to carry explosives through checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, security sources on both sides said.

Israeli military sources said one suspect carrying an explosives belt was arrested at a roadblock near the northern West Bank town of Nablus and another three at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem.

The arrests came three days after Israeli soldiers arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian boy carrying two pipe bombs at a checkpoint near Nablus.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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