- - Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Airport body scanners going unused

LAGOS | Body scanners bought for Nigeria’s main airports in the wake of a Christmas Day bomb attempt remain unused months later, though officials said Wednesday that U.S. air marshals now protect flights coming into the West African nation.

Harold Demuren, director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said the government still needs to train officers to operate the screening devices already in place at Lagos’ Murtala Mohammed International Airport and at the international airport in Abuja.

However, Mr. Demuren said explosive detection equipment already being used and full-body pat-downs for international passengers would make sure a similar attack “never happened again.”

The Nigerian government bought 10 body scanners immediately after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab reportedly attempted to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner with an explosive device hidden underneath his clothes. However, that equipment sits idle as international passengers walk through security screening at Murtala Mohammed, the oil-rich nation’s busiest airport.

The U.S. gave Nigeria four full-body scanners for its international airports in 2008 to detect explosives and drugs. Those machines remain in use by federal anti-drug agents at the Lagos international airport and elsewhere, though Mr. Abdulmutallab did not undergo a screening.


Mugabe thanks China for steadfast support

SHANGHAI | Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday thanked China for its steadfast support as he visited the World Expo in Shanghai and called for help in reviving his country’s shattered economy.

Mr. Mugabe expressed his deep gratitude to Beijing and called for deeper cooperation at a time when his country is struggling with a decade of acute food shortages.

“China has always stood by Zimbabwe,” Mr. Mugabe said as he presided over Zimbabwe Day at the Expo. “It is thus natural and logical for us to forge a strategic relationship with an all-weather friend [such] as the People’s Republic of China.”

China is not a party to international sanctions on Mr. Mugabe, who is the subject of a Western travel ban and asset freeze.

He spoke a day after the United Nations’ food agencies said 133,000 tons of food aid would be needed to help 1.68 million Zimbabweans between now and the next harvest in May.

Once a breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe suffers food shortages brought on by drought and Mr. Mugabe’s crippling land-reform program.

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