Al-Shabaab’s threat seen as empty
While al Shabaab managed to carry out a major bomb attack in Uganda earlier this year, Somalia analysts based in the country and outside this week dismissed the threat against Washington as propaganda.
Together with soldiers loyal to the Somali government, the African Union peacekeeping force has been making gains over al-Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu in recent weeks, suggesting the insurgents are falling back in their campaign to overthrow the government.
Somali pirates attempt hijacking
NAIROBI, Kenya | The spokesman for the European Union’s anti-piracy force said Wednesday that Somali pirates have unsuccessfully targeted two ships, going farther south than ever before to attack vessels.
Mr. O'Kennedy said the attacks took place about 950 nautical miles south of Tanzania’s main port, Dar es Salaam.
“These are the farthest south attacks we’ve got on record,” Mr. O'Kennedy said. No other details were available.
Southern artists sing for independence
JUBA | “Let us go, we can make it,” Mary Boyoi sings softly in a flutelike voice as she sways to the rhythm, sharing a dream that south Sudan will choose independence in next month’s referendum.
Ms. Boyoi, a rising pop artist, is one of several singers who literally are using their voices to get out the independence vote in the oil-rich but poverty-ridden region in a poll that looks set to divide Africa’s largest country.
As rapper and producer Lam Tungwar puts it, “Artists are an advantage because a lot of people are listening to them more than to the politicians.”
More than 3 million people are registered to vote in the Jan. 9 referendum, a key element in the 2005 peace accord that ended two decades of civil war between the largely Christian south and Muslim north.
That war left more than 2 million people dead and millions more displaced.
Cabinet minister fired after unrest
TUNIS | Tunisia’s president fired the country’s communications minister Wednesday after protests over unemployment that spread to several towns and led to at least two deaths.
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali replaced Oussama Romdhani in a government reshuffle but retained the interior minister despite opposition calls to oust him, according to a government statement.
The president, who runs this tiny Muslim country in North Africa with an iron fist, said the night before that the recent protest violence was manipulated by foreign media and hurt the country’s image.
Tunisia is a popular destination for European tourists and one that rarely sees unrest or public dissent. Mr. Ben Ali’s government was clearly caught off-guard by days of spreading discontent.
The protests began in the central town of Sidi Bouzid after a young man tried to set himself on fire earlier this month in despair after police seized fruits and vegetables he had been selling illegally.
The incident touched off demonstrations in neighboring towns and later in other regions over unemployment.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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