- - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ETHIOPIA

Gunmen kill tourists in ‘act of open terrorism’

ADDIS ABABA — Gunmen in Ethiopia’s arid north attacked a group of European tourists traveling in one of the world’s lowest and hottest regions, killing five, wounding two and kidnapping two others, an Ethiopian official said Wednesday.

Ethiopia called the attack “an act of open terrorism” and said the gunmen came from neighboring Eritrea and attacked the tourist group before dawn Tuesday. Three Ethiopians were taken hostage. Eritrea denied it was involved.

Austrian, Belgian, German, Hungarian and Italian nationals were among those in the tourist group, Ethiopian Communications Minister Bereket Simon said.

The five killed were two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian, according to an Interpol report cited by the spokesman for Hungary’s prime minister.

Two Belgians were hurt seriously, and two Italians escaped unharmed, the report said. Two Germans were kidnapped.

KENYA

Thousands died from lack of aid, report says

NAIROBI — Thousands of people, more than half of them children, died needlessly and millions of dollars were wasted because the international community failed to respond to early warnings of an impending food crisis in East Africa, aid agencies said in a report released Wednesday.

Most rich donor nations waited until the crisis was in full swing before donating a substantial amount of money, says the report by Oxfam and Save the Children.

A food shortage was predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until the United Nations declared parts of Somalia in famine in July 2011.

The aid agencies said many donors wanted to see proof that there was a humanitarian catastrophe.

That caused a funding shortfall that delayed a large-scale response to the crisis by about six months.

The report says the delays in East Africa caused thousands of deaths and increased costs for aid agencies. The British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people have died from the famine, mostly Somalis.

Ethiopia and Kenya also were affected, but aid agencies were able to work more easily there than in war-ravaged Somalia.

More than half of those who died are believed to have been children. The United Nations says 250,000 Somalis are still at risk of starvation and more than 13 million people need aid.

NIGERIA

Islamic terrorists kill two in attack on outpost

MAIDUGURI — Nigeria’s military says gunmen from a radical Islamist sect attacked an army outpost in the country’s northeast, killing two people.

The attack Wednesday morning occurred near Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and the spiritual home for the terrorist sect known as Boko Haram. A witness said a soldier and a hospital worker died in the attack.

Col. Victor Ebhaleme confirmed the attack but declined to give more details.

These are just the latest killings blamed on the sect, which this year alone has been linked to at least 76 deaths.

The sect has been waging an increasingly bloody sectarian battle against Nigeria’s weak central government.

MOZAMBIQUE

Floods leave 500 homeless near capital

MAPUTO — Nearly 500 people were flooded out of their homes in Mozambique’s capital after a tropical depression brought torrential rain and high winds, city officials said Wednesday.

The homeless in Mozambique were being sheltered in schools, churches and even on sports fields, city officials said. In the southern Inhambane province, officials said roofs were blown off 71 classrooms, seven teachers’ homes and two offices at a school.

In neighboring Gaza province, 40 small homes were swept away and 1,000 goats were killed.

Mozambique’s National Operational Emergency Center said tropical depression Dando dissipated after two days of destroying homes, downing power lines and causing other damage in Maputo and other southern areas. No deaths were reported.

MALI

New rebel group hits towns in north

BAMAKO — A new ethnic Tuareg rebel group launched a second day of attacks on two more towns in Mali’s arid north, a rebel spokesman said Wednesday, ending the tenuous peace that has existed between Tuareg groups and the government for the past two years.

The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, whose members include Tuaregs who once fought for the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, launched raids on the towns of Aguelhok and Tessalit, said one of its leaders, Moussa Ag Acharatoumane.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports