- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA

Police in charge after strikes

JOHANNESBURG | South African police stepped in to take over security at four World Cup venues Tuesday after new strikes by stewards, including a walkout hours before Brazil’s first match of the tournament.

South Africa's government said the move would not affect fans’ safety but organizers were left red-faced by the failure to contain the industrial unrest.

National police commissioner Bheki Cele said his officers would now be in charge of security at the stadiums in Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, where five-time champion Brazil played North Korea.

Around 1,000 police were on duty in and around the grounds for one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the first round.

“We have activated necessary and adequate contingency plans to different stadia in the country,” Mr. Cele said. “We are confident that we will not compromise the safety of the tournament or our day-to-day normal policing.”

An Agence France-Presse correspondent at Ellis Park reported several hundred staff walked out of the stadium around four hours before kickoff.

Staff at Cape Town staged a similar protest over their pay on Monday night shortly before Italy began its defense of the trophy. And their colleagues in Durban clashed with riot police as they protested against their employees after a late game on Sunday.

The dispute is a major embarrassment for organizers who also had to find alternative transportation for nearly 1,000 supporters stuck at Johannesburg’s showpiece Soccer City stadium Monday when bus drivers staged a wildcat strike.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Themba Maseko said the strikes would not affect fans’ security.

“The South African police and other security agencies are ready to deal with any situation,” he told reporters.

CHINA

Small leakage at nuclear plant

HONG KONG | A nuclear power plant in southern China that supplies electricity to Hong Kong suffered a small radiation leak last month that was contained, the government said Tuesday.

A fuel rod at the Guangdong Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station experienced a “very small leakage” that increased radioactivity levels slightly in the nuclear reactor’s cooling water on May 23, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said in a statement.

The leak was “completely quarantined and, therefore, had no impact on the public,” the bureau said.

A director at Hong Kong’s CLP Group, which owns 25 percent of the power plant, said the leak likely occurred in one of the 41,000 fuel rods inside the nuclear reactor. Richard Lancaster said there was no risk of the radiation leaking outside the reactor because it is thickly encased in steel and concrete.

“It was a very, very minor event,” Mr. Lancaster said.

With Hong Kong just 30 miles away, many nervous residents had opposed the construction of the Daya Bay plant, which opened in 1994, with 1 million people signing a petition against it.

Seventy percent of the output at Daya Bay is allocated to this semiautonomous southern Chinese city.

China’s Guangdong Nuclear Investment Co. holds the remaining stake in the plant.

AFGHANISTAN

5 NATO troops, official killed

KABUL | Five international coalition troops died Tuesday and an Afghan district official, his son and a bodyguard were assassinated in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban is targeting people loyal to the government and its foreign partners.

Abdul Jabar Murghani, chief of Arghandab district, was driving home when a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a car parked along his route. Arghandab - the same area where a suicide bomber killed 56 people at a wedding party last week - is a dangerous area of Kandahar province.

Afghan and NATO forces are ramping up security in the province to drive the Taliban from their spiritual homeland and bolster the Afghan central government’s control across the country where there has been an uptick in violence.

Authorities said Tuesday that 12 Afghan police officers and six civilians have died since early Monday in attacks across the nation. The civilians were killed in two attacks - one a remote-controlled explosive that killed four people in Helmand province in the south, and the second a roadside bomb that killed two others in western Herat province, the Interior Ministry said.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the assassination of the district chief.

“When Murghani arrived at the scene, the bomb was detonated,” Mr. Karzai said in a statement. “The continuation of such terrorist attacks reflect a conspiracy of strangers and enemies of the Afghan people.”

IRELAND

Israeli expelled over forged passports

DUBLIN | Ireland announced Tuesday it’s expelling an Israeli embassy official in punishment for the alleged Mossad use of forged Irish passports to assassinate a top Hamas militant in Dubai, further damaging strained Irish-Israeli relations.

Israel has refused to confirm or deny its agents’ involvement in the January slaying of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Dubai police said Israeli agents posing as vacationers in the oil-rich Arab emirate killed Mabhouh in his hotel room.

They said assassins using 32 fake passports - including eight depicting fictional Irish citizens - participated in the hit squad. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Ireland’s national police force, the Garda Siochana, launched parallel investigations, but said their appeals for information from Israel fell on deaf ears.

“The misuse of Irish passports by a state with which Ireland enjoys friendly, if sometimes frank, bilateral relations is clearly unacceptable and requires a firm response,” Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said as he announced the expulsion.

Ireland’s two investigations received no cooperation from the Israelis, but nevertheless reached “the inescapable conclusion that an Israeli government agency was responsible,” he said.

The Israeli embassy in Dublin includes four diplomats and two security officials. Both Ireland and Israel declined to identify the official facing expulsion by name or position, but the Irish Times reported it was one of the security officials.

PERU

Van der Sloot attorney quits

LIMA | The recently hired Peruvian defense attorney for accused murderer Joran van der Sloot said Tuesday that he’s quitting after receiving death threats.

“I’ve received threats, many threatening e-mails. … This isn’t for me,” Maximo Altez told the Associated Press.

He would not describe the threats in a brief telephone conversation, saying only that he would stop representing the young Dutchman when members of Mr. van der Sloot’s family arrive in Peru in the next few days.

Police say Mr. van der Sloot confessed last week to killing a 21-year-old Lima student, Stephany Flores, on May 30 in his hotel room after the two met playing poker at a casino.

Mr. van der Sloot, 22, also remains the lone suspect in the disappearance exactly five years earlier in Aruba of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway. He was twice arrested and freed in that case for lack of evidence.

It was not known who will replace Mr. Altez. Dutch officials said before Mr. van der Sloot was charged last week that his mother, a schoolteacher in Aruba, might have to borrow money in order to afford defense counsel. She has refused to talk to reporters.

A Peruvian judge on Friday ordered Mr. van der Sloot jailed pending trial.

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