Election a test of post-war status
FREETOWN — Sierra Leoneans vote today in their first presidential election since U.N. peacekeepers left two years ago, a test of whether the West African state's recovered from a 1991-2002 civil war.
Ernest Bai Koroma of the opposition All People's Congress (APC) is expected to mount a strong challenge to Solomon Berewa, the country's vice president and candidate of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).
President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, re-elected on a wave of post-war euphoria in 2002, is stepping down as required by the constitution amid anger about rampant corruption and the SLPP's failure to supply jobs, electricity or roads in one of the world's poorest states. A parliamentary election is also taking place and 2.6 million Sierra Leoneans, roughly half the population, are registered to elect 112 parliamentarians.
Man shoots guard in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM — A man grabbed a pistol from an Israeli security guard yesterday in Jerusalem's Old City and shot him, but was fatally shot by another guard as he tried to flee, Israeli police said.
Rescue teams reported that nine others were wounded in the melee in the Old City's Christian Quarter. Among the wounded were Jews, Christians and Armenians, police said. It was not clear whether any of the wounded were tourists.
The Israeli government employs the security guards to protect Jewish families and students who live in the Old City. The shooting occurred in a tourist-favored alley near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition says Jesus was stripped, crucified, and finally laid to rest before being resurrected on Easter Sunday.
Jewish-born cardinal buried in mixed rites
PARIS — France bade farewell to Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger yesterday in a ceremony that mixed prayers from his Jewish roots with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a faith to which he converted during World War II.
In a move reflecting his Polish Jewish origins, the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish, was read at the start of the ceremony outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris by a cousin. The funeral Mass was attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who cut short a visit to the United States to attend. Cardinal Lustiger died Sunday at age 80.
Meteorite stolen from Siberian city
MOSCOW — Russian police combed the northern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk yesterday for a 3-ton meteorite that disappeared from under the nose of its keepers.
The giant rock was stolen from the yard of the Tunguska Space Event foundation, whose director said it was the part of meteor that caused a massive explosion in Siberia in 1908, Interfax news agency reported.
Foundation Director Yury Lavbin brought the rock to Krasnoyarsk after a 2004 expedition to the site of the "Tunguska event," a mysterious aerial explosion in Siberia in 1908 that was 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Plane with 20 crashes in Pacific
PAPEETE — A small airplane plunged into the sea moments after taking off from the French Polynesian resort island of Moorea, apparently killing all 20 persons aboard in the territory's worst plane crash, officials said yesterday.
Two Australian tourists, two European Union officials, and a group of Polynesian environmental and tourism officials were among those aboard the Twin Otter DHC-6 turboprop when it crashed Thursday, according to the territory's High Commission, which represents France in French Polynesia.
From wire dispatches and staff reports
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