- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2010

GUINEA-BISSAU

Soldiers oust army chief, hold prime minister

BISSAU | Soldiers briefly held Guinea-Bissau’s prime minister Thursday and ousted the army chief of staff in the latest bout of military infighting to hit a country that is a major drugs trafficking hub to Europe.

President Malam Bacai Sanha declared the situation under control but questions over Guinea-Bissau’s leadership remained after the same group of soldiers teamed up with the chief suspect in a failed 2008 coup against Mr. Sanha’s late predecessor.

Mr. Sanha has taken tentative steps to restoring order in the country since renegade soldiers killed his predecessor Joao Bernardo Vieira in March 2009.

Earlier, a Reuters witness said armed soldiers walked into the U.N. compound in the capital Bissau and emerged with former navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, who had sought refuge there after being suspected of leading a 2008 coup attempt.

The same group of soldiers briefly detained Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and said they had ousted armed forces chief of staff Adm. Jose Zamora Induta, replacing him with his deputy, Gen. Antonio Njai.

IRAQ

Health official killed at home

BAGHDAD | Gunmen armed with silenced pistols fatally shot a Health Ministry official at his home in Baghdad in an apparent targeting of government employees, Iraqi police said.

The killing, one of a number of scattered attacks late Wednesday and into Thursday, comes amid growing concerns that the political uncertainty created by last month’s indecisive elections could lead to more violence as U.S. forces prepare to accelerate their withdrawal in the coming months.

Police said Mohammed Chillab, deputy head of the technical affairs department at the Health Ministry, was sitting in his garden at home in the capital’s northern Sunni al-Silaikh neighborhood late Wednesday when three attackers shot him using silenced pistols.

SAUDI ARABIA

Pentagon denies missile test

The Pentagon denied Wednesday that the United States test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads during a joint military exercise with Saudi Arabia.

A Western military official in Saudi Arabia said a Trident missile was launched Wednesday out in the kingdom. But Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a Pentagon spokesman, said there was no launch of Trident or any other missile during the exercise, which began last week.

The Western military official in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, said U.S. Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency, attended the test launch, but a second defense official in the United States said that while Gen. O’Reilly was in the region last week, he did not attend a missile launch.

BRITAIN

Writer wins appeal in libel case

LONDON | A British science writer chipped away at the country’s harsh libel laws Thursday with an appeals court victory in a case that has become a rallying point for free-speech advocates.

The decision was hailed by many as an important step in a country that has become a haven for “libel tourism” because its law often favors people and corporations bringing claims against individuals.

Simon Singh’s case revolves around his 2008 column in the Guardian newspaper challenging the British Chiropractic Association’s claim that chiropractic treatment can remedy a wide range of childhood medical problems, including colic and asthma.

The group sued Mr. Singh, and a lower court ruled last year that he could not simply claim that his views were fairly held opinions but would instead have to prove in court that his assertions were factually accurate.

The three-judge appeals court panel ruled unanimously Thursday the decision was wrong, opening the door for Mr. Singh to argue that his words were opinion, not fact, and that it would be unfair to require him to prove their accuracy in court.

ZIMBABWE

Lawmakers barred from diamond field

HARARE | Lawmakers investigating purported illegal diamond mining in eastern Zimbabwe said police stopped them touring the diamond workings.

Lawmaker Moses Mare said 13 legislators from both parties in the coalition government spent Tuesday and Wednesday waiting for clearance to enter the Chiadzwa diamond district.

Provincial and police officials in the eastern provincial capital of Mutare told the group they did not have clearance despite an invitation from the state mining corporation to include public hearings in local communities.

Diamond mining in Zimbabwe is mired in allegations of corruption and violence by troops called in to seal off the fields last year.

SAUDI ARABIA

Islamic scholars denounce terrorism

RIYADH | Muslim scholars from around the world who met this week in Saudi Arabia’s holy city Medina have denounced “terrorism” and appealed to “extremists” to repent, a statement said Thursday.

The four-day Islamic conference, sponsored by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz and organized by the Islamic University of Medina, drew some 500 participants, according to press reports.

The scholars condemned “all acts of terrorism wherever they take place and whoever is behind them,” said the concluding statement from the conference, which wrapped up late Wednesday.

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