- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

U.S. picks Djibouti for command center

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia The United States is setting up a command center in Djibouti and sending more troops to the Horn of Africa to hunt down terrorist groups, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy here.

Djibouti has a Red Sea port and borders with Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. It already hosts most of the U.S. troops in a region that Washington fears could be a haven for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network or other terrorists.

"U.S. troops already in Djibouti are busy setting up a command base," the embassy spokesman said Monday. Their number will rise from 800 to 1,200, according to Pentagon officials quoted by the embassy. Many are Marines or special operations troops.

Djibouti, a tiny, mostly desert country of 600,000 people, has long been used as a military base by France.

Sudan said readying offensive in the east

KHARTOUM, Sudan Government troops are preparing an offensive to recapture lost territory in eastern Sudan, the region's governor said yesterday, 10 days before peace negotiations in Kenya were to adjourn.

The governor of Kassala state, Maj. Gen. Adam Hamid Mussa, said the army was gearing up for the offensive now that neighboring Eritrea has withdrawn troops that Khartoum charged were used to shield the rebels.

Gen. Mussa's remarks came after the United States lauded the resumption of peace talks between the government and rebels, but urged them to respect a cease-fire.

Two state officials murdered in Nigeria

JOS, Nigeria Two senior officials have been killed in a new outbreak of violence near the central city of Jos, where about 1,000 people died in Muslim-Christian clashes last year, officials report.

The two officials were ambushed Saturday in Namaran village in the Kanam area, where fighting erupted last week, said Ezekiel Gomos, government secretary of Plateau state. "The two men were ambushed and killed after inspecting the extent of damage in Namaran," he told Reuters news agency.

Witnesses said Yusufu Doma, an adviser to the Plateau governor and Shehu Aliyu Maigari, a deputy coordinator of the state poverty alleviation agency, were beheaded by the killers.

Weekly notes

The 10-year exile of former Liberian warlord Yormie Johnson, who had president Samuel Doe tortured to death on videotape, may be coming to an end, he said yesterday. The 50-year-old born-again Christian told AFP at his modest Lagos house that he is not ready to leave Nigeria. "I do not want to go to any [other] country in Africa," he said, indicating he has been asked to depart. "I am not safe if I am on my own," he said. Burundi authorities put an ex-president under house arrest this week, saying the hard-line ethnic Tutsi leader planned to topple the government. "Jean-Baptiste Bagaza is planning to physically eliminate Burundi President Pierre Buyoya and speaker of parliament Jean Minani," Public Security Minister Salvator Ntihabose told a news conference.

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