- - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MOROCCO

Police disrupt al Qaeda-linked cell

RABAT | Morocco’s police have broken up a terror cell led by a member of al Qaeda’s North African branch that was setting up a base in the disputed Western Sahara, the official news agency MAP said.

Police dismantled a 27-member cell and discovered three weapons caches in Western Sahara, said MAP, which published a statement from the Interior Ministry late Tuesday.

The report said the cell was planning suicide-bomb attacks against police and bank robberies to finance its activities.

Morocco, which claims Western Sahara, has been locked in a dispute with a local independence movement there called the Polisario Front.

The cell was led by a Moroccan citizen based in an al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa camp in Mali, MAP said. Members of the cell were to be sent for terrorist training in camps in Mali and Algeria, according to the government statement.

Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, known by the French-language acronym AQMI, is an Algeria-based group that joined Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network in 2006. It operates mainly in Algeria but is suspected of crossing the country’s porous desert borders to spread violence in the rest of northwestern Africa.

TUNISIA

Self-immolated youth dies in burn ward

TUNIS | The young man whose self-immolation touched off nearly three weeks of unrest in Tunisia has died in a burn ward, his supporters said Wednesday.

Mohamed Bouazizi, in despair after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit, set himself on fire Dec. 17.

His act sparked violent protests over unemployment that have led to three deaths.

Attia Athmouni, spokesman for the support committee for the young man and other demonstrators, said Mr. Bouazizi died Tuesday at a hospital outside Tunis.

Mr. Bouazizi, who was 26, had a university degree but no steady work.

His hardships resonated with many in this North African nation. Unemployment stands at around 14 percent but is much higher outside the capital and beachside tourist zones, in regions such as Sidi Bouzid in the center-west, where Mr. Bouazizi lived.

Unrest is rare in Tunisia, a popular tourist destination on the Mediterranean where the government brooks little dissent and is routinely criticized for its human rights record.

UGANDA

Court rules media cannot ‘out’ gays

KAMPALA | Uganda’s High Court has ruled that the media should not publish the names and photos of gay Ugandans. The ruling follows a vitriolic campaign in the East African country, which urged citizens to hang those featured.

Justice Kibuuka Musoke on Monday ordered Uganda’s Rolling Stone magazine to pay $650 in damages and court costs for each of the three activists who sued the magazine.

Justice Musoke also ordered a permanent injunction preventing the magazine from publishing any more names of men or women accused of being gay.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, but gay rights groups recently have begun protesting their treatment.

KENYA

Minister resigns over imports scandal

NAIROBI | Kenya’s industrialization minister has resigned over a car-imports scandal that will see the country’s anti-graft agency taking him to court on corruption charges.

Henry Kosgey said he did not do anything wrong, but he nevertheless wrote to Kenya’s president and prime minister Tuesday to offer to “step aside,” a euphemism Kenyan politicians use to mean resign.

Mr. Kosgey is following a recent trend in the Cabinet in which ministers have resigned or have been suspended if they faced corruption charges. The most recent was the foreign affairs minister who resigned in October over an embassies scandal.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission has been investigating Mr. Kosgey for his role in the importation of cars that are more than eight years old, which is illegal in Kenya.

From wire dispatches and staff reports