- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2008

MAURITANIA

Army officers stage coup

NOUAKCHOTT | Renegade army officers have staged a coup and detained Mauritania’s president and prime minister, after they fired the desert country’s top four military officials, a presidential spokesman said.

President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was being held by renegade soldiers at the presidential palace in Nouakchott, spokesman Abdoulaye Mamadouba said.

Soldiers also detained Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waqef, the spokesman said.

State radio and television went off the air, and witnesses said soldiers were deployed throughout the capital. No violence was immediately reported.

Mr. Abdallahi’s civilian government took control from a military junta that seized power in a 2005 coup and stepped down after 2007 elections.

Among those fired was army chief Gen. Mohamed Ould Sheikh Mohamed.

CONGO

Scientists find more lowland gorillas

EDINBURGH, Scotland | Wildlife researchers say that they’ve discovered 125,000 western lowland gorillas deep in the forests of the Republic of Congo, calling it a major increase in the animal’s estimated population.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, based at New York’s Bronx Zoo, and the Republic of Congo said this week their census counted the newly discovered gorillas in two areas of the northern part of the country covering 18,000 square miles.

Previous estimates, dating to the 1980s, put the number of western lowland gorillas at less than 100,000. But the animal’s numbers were believed to have fallen by at least 50 percent since then due to hunting and disease, researchers said. The newly discovered gorilla population now puts their estimated numbers at between 175,000 to 225,000.

EGYPT

DNA tests planned on bodies in Tut’s tomb

CAIRO | Scientists will conduct DNA tests on two tiny mummified bodies found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun to determine whether they were the young pharaoh’s offspring, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said Wednesday.

There has been no archaeological evidence that Tutankhamun, who died around the age of 19 under mysterious circumstances more than 3,000 years ago, left any offspring. But mummies found in his tomb contained the bodies of two females born prematurely between five to seven months gestation who may be his stillborn children, said Zahi Hawass, head of the antiquities authority.

The DNA tests will also seek to establish Tutankhamun’s family lineage, a mystery among many Egyptologists.

“All of these results will be compared to each other, along with those of the mummy of King Tutankhamun,” Mr. Hawass said.

Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. Scholars believe that at age 12, he married his half-sister Ankhesenamun, but the couple had no surviving children.

Mr. Hawass has announced ambitious plans for DNA tests on Egyptian mummies, including all royal mummies and the nearly two dozen unidentified ones stored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. He has said the tests may show that some royal mummies on display are not who archaeologists thought them to be.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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