- - Sunday, August 15, 2010

IRAQ

U.S. Navy: 4 ships robbed off coast

BAGHDAD | Gunmen robbed four commercial ships anchored near the southern oil hub of Basra in a rare attack off the Iraqi coast, the U.S. Navy said Sunday.

Two men armed with AK-47 rifles boarded the U.S. ship Sagamore in the vicinity of an Iraqi oil terminal in the northern Persian Gulf at 4 a.m. on Aug. 8, taking computers, cell phones and money from crew members before fleeing the vessel after about 40 minutes on board, according to Lt. John Fage, a spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

He said three other ships — the Antigua-flagged Armenia, the North Korean Crystal Wave and the Syrian Sana Star — also were robbed under similar circumstances during a two-hour period starting about 2 a.m. the same day.

BAHRAIN

Shiite clerics arrested on security suspicions

MANAMA | Bahraini authorities have arrested four Shiite men, including two clerics, suspected of setting up a network aimed at destabilizing the country, a security official said Sunday.

Three of the men were arrested Sunday, while the fourth — Abduljalil al-Singace, a leading figure in the Shiite opposition association Haq — was detained late Saturday, said the official from Bahrain’s National Security, cited by the BNA state news agency.

Mohammed Habib Mansur al-Safaf, known as Sheikh Mohammed al-Moqdad; and Saeed Mirza Ahmed, known as Sheikh Saeed al-Huri; as well as Abdulghani Ali Issa Khanjar, a Shiite activist, were the others arrested.

NIGERIA

Shell says sabotage increasing on pipeline

LAGOS | Royal Dutch Shell PLC warned Sunday that thieves in Nigeria’s oil-rich and restive southern delta are increasingly targeting the company’s crude pipelines, including at least three incidents of sabotage this month alone.

In a statement, Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said damaged pipelines near Bonny in Rivers state bore signs of drilled holes and hacksaw cuts. The subsidiary said the damage suggested that thieves — known locally as “bunkerers” — likely had tapped into the lines to siphon off crude oil to sell on the black market.

The subsidiary did not give an estimate of how much crude oil it had lost in the incidents, though it acknowledged the damaged pipelines had leaked crude oil into the environment. The statement said the company put containment booms into the surrounding waterways to stop the oil flow and hired a contractor to begin a cleanup.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Strong earthquake hits island nation

PORT MORESBY | A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Monday, seismologists said in a further revision of earlier data, while no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake struck at 1:09 a.m. with its epicenter on the western tip of New Britain island, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The epicenter was at a depth of 114 miles, which reduced the likelihood of serious damage.

Papua New Guinea, which is beset by poverty despite rich mineral deposits, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a hot spot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

CANADA

Group says man died aboard Tamil ship

VANCOUVER | The Canadian Tamil Congress says a man died aboard a ship carrying hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers during a grueling voyage that lasted at least three months in a cramped cargo ship.

At least 450 migrants from war-ravaged Sri Lanka arrived in Canada’s Pacific coast province of British Columbia Friday aboard the Thai-flagged MV Sun Sea.

Tamil Congress spokesman Sarujan Kanapathipillai said Sunday that the migrants told his group’s representatives that a man in his mid-30s died last month of unknown causes. His body was buried at sea.

Canada’s top security officials say the ship was modified in order to maximize profits for a human smuggling operation likely organized by the rebel Tamil Tigers.

CUBA

Gitmo trial delayed one month

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE | The military trial of a Canadian captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan at age 15 was postponed Friday for 30 days so his lawyer can seek medical treatment in the United States, a U.S. military official said.

Omar Khadr’s U.S. military defense lawyer, Jon Jackson, collapsed Thursday at the end of court proceedings — the first full prosecution at Guantanamo since President Obama took office — and was rushed to hospital on the U.S. naval base.

The official said it was determined that Mr. Jackson has to be evacuated from the base to get medical treatment and will be on “convalescent leave” in the United States for 30 days.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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