- - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Massacres report aims to end impunity

GENEVA | The United Nations is set to release on Friday a hotly contested report on massacres in eastern Congo, including a possible genocide by Rwandan troops, which the U.N.’s top rights officer hopes will end a culture of impunity.

A draft of the report seen by Agence France-Presse records 600 violent incidents, including massacres, rapes and pillaging, by various armies and rebel groups through two wars that raged in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003.

Most controversial is the detailed inventory of instances in which Hutu refugees were rounded up by Rwandan forces on the pretext of repatriation and then were executed with gunfire, machetes or a hammer blow to the head.

The Rwandan government has reacted angrily to the report, with President Paul Kagame dismissing its claims as “absurd.”

NIGERIA

Flood victims face food shortages, disease

SABONGARIN DOLE | Thousands of people from more than 30 flooded villages in northwestern Nigeria faced shortages of food and shelter on Wednesday, with fears building of disease outbreaks.

Officials in Sokoto state said more than 130,000 people had been displaced by flooding three weeks ago when a spillway from the Goronyo dam burst from heavy rains, sweeping through the villages.

Dozens of camps for displaced people have sprung up in the Goronyo district, where most schools have been turned into shelters for displaced communities, Yusuf Muhammad, a teacher in Goronyo, told Agence France-Presse.

Aid workers from Doctors Without Borders have set up clinics in three camps to help displaced residents.

Doctors there were treating malaria and infections, and they were concerned about cholera outbreaks caused by a lack of clean water.

ZIMBABWE

Zuma urges end to Zimbabwe sanctions

BRUSSELS | South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday told European parliamentarians that lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe would help the country work through its political problems.

On his first trip to the parliament, Mr. Zuma told its foreign affairs committee that such a move would help efforts to turn around the situation in Zimbabwe, which is emerging from a chapter of political violence and hyperinflation.

Lifting sanctions “would give a chance to the efforts we are making there and empower the Southern African Development Community to do more on Zimbabwe,” Mr. Zuma said.

On Tuesday, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said the bloc was ready to take a fresh look at the measures against Zimbabwe.

Mr. Van Rompuy noted Zimbabwean moves to create a new constitution as part of a road map to elections, a process launched by the unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in February.

SOMALIA

Pirates hijack ship with Indian crew of 15

NAIROBI, Kenya | The European Union Naval Force says Somali pirates have hijacked a cargo ship with 15 Indian crew members onboard.

EU spokesman Lt. Col. Per Klingvall said Wednesday that the Asphalt Venture lost contact with its owners on Tuesday night. He could not provide more details of the incident.

The ship was headed from Kenya to South Africa when it was attacked off the Tanzanian coast.

Somali pirates are holding for ransom at least 16 ships and more than 300 crew members.

NIGERIA

Bus hijackers seek deal for freeing children

LAGOS | Gunmen who hijacked a school bus and kidnapped 15 children in Nigeria were negotiating with the school’s owner as nearby banks and shops remained closed Wednesday, said police.

Officers in the city of Aba, in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, said fear of further attacks had prompted a number of shops to close; a witness said banks were shut down.

“The kidnappers are relating with the proprietor of the school, and we are hopeful for a good outcome,” said Abia state police spokesman Geofrey Ogbonna.

He did not give details on the talks with the kidnappers or police efforts to track them down following Monday’s hijacking.

The abductors demanded a ransom of $128,900 after the hijacking, which signaled a disturbing escalation in the spate of kidnappings that already have provoked widespread fear in the region.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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