Freed hostages heading home
BAMAKO — Fourteen Europeans held hostage in the Sahara for more than five months by Algerian militants left Mali’s capital, Bamako, late yesterday for Cologne on a German army ambulance plane, officials said.
The ex-hostages started off with a long road journey from Tessalit in the northeastern Kidal region to the city of Gao in north Mali before taking a German army aircraft to Bamako.
The captives — nine Germans, four Swiss and one Dutch tourist — captured while sightseeing in southern Algeria, were freed Monday. Germany pledged to help track down the kidnappers, but refused to comment on media reports that a ransom was paid.
Quake survivor held in bid to hijack jet
ALGIERS — A man who told passengers his life was wrecked by an earthquake attempted to hijack an Air Algerie jet yesterday, threatening the crew with what he claimed was a grenade before surrendering to security services.
The 55-year-old man came from Boumerdes, a town devastated by the May 21 quake that killed about 2,300 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
After takeoff from Algiers, the man demanded that the plane divert to Geneva. The crew of the Boeing 737 convinced him instead to make a scheduled stop at Oran, to refuel, where he surrendered.
Aid agencies barred from food distribution
HARARE — The Zimbabwe government has introduced new regulations that ban relief agencies from independently distributing international food aid to millions of hunger-threatened people, aid agencies said yesterday.
The order, issued last week, will see the distribution of international food aid shift from relief agencies to local government and village authorities.
The new directive is likely to draw protests since the opposition has accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of distributing food along party lines.
U.S. doctor wanted in murder found dead
OTTAWA — A U.S. doctor who was fighting extradition to the United States to face trial for the murder of her ex-lover has been found dead on a beach in Canada near the body of her 13-month-old son, police said yesterday.
The bodies of Shirley Turner and her son, Zachary, were found late Monday by passersby on the beach near St. John’s, the capital of the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Miss Turner, who also held Canadian citizenship, was accused of shooting her former lover in November 2001. She later moved to Canada, where authorities agreed to extradite her to Pennsylvania.
Burundian president meets rebel leader
JOHANNESBURG — Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye held his first face-to-face talks with the leader of the country’s biggest rebel group yesterday to thrash out power-sharing plans in advance of a regional summit.
Mr. Ndayizeye and Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of the rebel Forces for the Defense of Democracy, met at a secret location in South Africa, South African officials said.
The talks seek ways to end a war that has killed an estimated 300,000 people. If a deal is reached, then it will be formally signed at a summit in Tanzania.
Army moves in to quell unrest
LAGOS — Nigerian troops moved in to separate warring ethnic groups in the Nigerian oil city of Warri yesterday, as fighting flared for a fifth day in a conflict rooted in disputes over political power and oil revenues.
The fighting between the Ijaw and Itsekiri groups is the worst in the Niger Delta since March, when an Ijaw revolt led to dozens of deaths and forced oil companies to close down around 40 percent of production in the nation.