- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SOMALIA

Pirates hijack ship despite U.S. action

NAIROBI, Kenya — Pirates have hijacked another merchant ship off the coast of lawless Somalia, despite the U.S. Navy’s seizure there last week of a pirate vessel, maritime officials said yesterday.

Gunmen attacked the ship on Sunday, a day after a U.S. Navy destroyer tracked down and seized other pirates, said the International Maritime Board in its weekly piracy report.

“Pirates armed with guns hijacked a general cargo ship under way,” the IMB said. “They fired warning shots, threatened the 20 crew members [and] are demanding a ransom for release of the crew and ship.”

It was the 38th reported attack on commercial shipping off the Somalian coast since March, but the first since the U.S. 5th Fleet ordered action against pirates.

NIGERIA

Villagers flee delta after oil-site attacks

WARRI — Villagers fled Nigeria’s lawless delta yesterday amid fears of military reprisals after a wave of attacks on foreign oil companies by ethnic Ijaw militias.

The army deployed more troops to key installations, and oil companies tightened security around their offices a day after heavily armed men stormed the headquarters of Italian oil firm Agip, robbing a bank on the premises and killing eight policemen and one civilian.

It was not clear whether the attack on Agip, a unit of Italy’s ENI, was the work of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, whose five-week-old campaign of sabotage and kidnapping has helped push world oil prices to four-month highs.

IVORY COAST

Ouattara returns from exile in France

ABIDJAN — Ivorian opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara returned here yesterday after a three-year exile, according to an Agence France-Presse journalist at the Abidjan airport.

Mr. Ouattara, accompanied by wife Dominique, was met at the VIP lounge of the international airport by members of his Rally of Republicans (RDR) party. He was protected by bodyguards and a dozen U.N. peacekeepers from Senegal and Togo.

Weekly notes …

Nearly 16 years after the overthrow of Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, survivors of his military regime have added another victim to the tens of thousands of deaths blamed on him. Sabadet Totodet died in Chad three weeks ago of tuberculosis, joining scores of former prisoners who succumbed to diseases and other ailments caused by abusive treatment under Habre, who lives comfortably in Senegal despite an international indictment on crimes against humanity. … U.N. agencies renewed yesterday their desperate appeals for help in saving millions of Kenyans facing famine. The World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund offered bleak assessments of prospects without urgent donations for Kenyans and others in the region threatened with malnutrition. WFP said it would run out of food aid by mid-February if donors do not respond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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