- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SOMALIA

Fighting kills at least 17 civilians

MOGADISHU | Clashes in Mogadishu pitting Islamist insurgents against Somali government troops backed by African Union forces have killed at least 17 civilians, medics said Wednesday.

“The ambulance servicemen collected 10 civilian bodies and 46 others who were injured in the clashes [Tuesday] afternoon,” Ali Musa, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance services, told Agence France-Presse.

Seven others died of their injuries while undergoing treatment at the city’s Madina hospital, officials said.

The fighting erupted as African Union leaders agreed Tuesday to boost the bloc’s force in Somalia by 4,000 to counter the Islamist insurgents waging a deadly battle to oust the country’s transitional government.

The decision came in response to the devastating bomb attacks in Kampala that killed 76 people and was claimed by Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab rebels two weeks ahead of the AU summit in the Ugandan capital.

ZIMBABWE

Court appeals aide’s treason acquittal

HARARE | Zimbabwean lawyers say the nation’s highest court is appealing the acquittal on treason charges of a top aide of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Supreme Court adjourned indefinitely Wednesday to study bulky court records of the High Court trial that in May acquitted Roy Bennett. Mr. Bennett, who was designated deputy agriculture minister, was charged with plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

The case against Mr. Bennett strained Zimbabwe’s struggling coalition government since it was forged 18 months ago. Mr. Mugabe vowed not to swear in Mr. Bennett as a minister until he was cleared of charges carrying a possible death sentence.

Defense attorney Beatrice Mtetwa described the state appeal as continuing “political persecution” of Mr. Bennett.

SIERRA LEONE

Ex-Irish president calls for maternal health focus

FREETOWN | Ex-Irish President Mary Robinson urged African leaders Wednesday to boost support for maternal health, during a visit to Sierra Leone, where mortality rates are among the highest in the world.

“If the African Union succeeds in fulfilling its commitment to maternal health, it will benefit the economies of countries to have healthy populations,” she said at a news conference in Freetown.

Mrs. Robinson is on a two-day visit to observe implementation of a $90 million initiative to provide free health care for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5 launched in April.

TANZANIA

Killer of albino girl sentenced to hang

DAR ES SALAAM | A man has been sentenced to death by hanging for killing a 5-year-old albino girl by hacking off her legs with a machete and then drinking her blood, media reported on Wednesday.

The High Court in the northern town of Mwanza on Tuesday convicted 50-year-old Kazimiri Mashauri after hearing he disappeared with the severed limbs and left her to die.

The girl’s killing was one of a spate of attacks on the country’s estimated 200,000 albinos in the past years, mostly in the remote northwest of the country near Lake Victoria, where superstition runs deep.

Albino hunters kill their victims and harvest their blood and body parts for potions. Their body parts are prized in some regions of Tanzania, where witch doctors say albinos — who lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair — bring luck in love, life and business.

GAMBIA

Jammeh accuses Britain of funding opposition

BANJUL | Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh on Wednesday lashed out at former colonial master Britain with accusations it was funding the opposition ahead of next year’s presidential election.

“I have gathered evidence that the British government through its High Commission in Banjul is pumping in money for the opposition to prepare for the next presidential election but no matter what, they will never succeed,” the president told thousands of Gambians at a political rally in Banjul.

Mr. Jammeh, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1994, is often criticized by the international community for human rights abuses in the tiny African country, a favorite among European tourists for its palm-fringed beaches.

SOUTH AFRICA

Authorities search for escaped tiger

JOHANNESBURG | South African wildlife authorities mounted a fresh search Wednesday for a 300-pound Bengal tiger named Panjo, the day after he escaped from the back of his owner’s truck.

Wildlife authorities are hoping to get close enough to the tiger to fire a tranquilizer dart, but have been unable to even locate the animal after a full day’s search Tuesday.

The tiger was being kept as a pet in the mining town of Springs outside Johannesburg, and reportedly was being taken to a veterinarian in nearby Mpumalanga province when he escaped.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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