- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2003

IRAQ

Security chief forced aside in Iraq probe

NEW YORK — The U.N. security coordinator is being asked to step aside while an independent team assesses security failures that led to so many casualties in a bombing at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, U.N. officials said yesterday.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to appoint the team of experts today. Tun Myat of Burma, who has been security chief since July 2002, will go on leave at least until their assessment is completed.

In a letter to more than 25,000 U.N. staffers worldwide on Friday, Mr. Annan pledged to take immediate action to implement recommendations in a highly critical report by a U.N.-appointed panel.

The report blamed “dysfunctional” U.N. security for unnecessary casualties in the Aug. 19 attack that killed 22 persons, including top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

SAUDI ARABIA

Police kill militants, uncover arms cache

RIYADH — Police clashed with suspected al Qaeda sympathizers in the streets of the sacred city of Mecca yesterday, killing two militants and uncovering a cache of weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, grenades and bomb-making materials.

The raid was the latest in a string of antimilitant sweeps across Saudi Arabia, where the legitimacy of the regime rests in part on safeguarding Mecca — the site of Islam’s holiest shrine. An attack in Mecca could be seen as a strike on the Saudi regime.

The kingdom launched its crackdown on suspected terrorists after the May 12 suicide attacks against Western residential compounds in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. About 600 people believed linked to al Qaeda have been arrested.

GIBRALTAR

Spain shuts border to virus-stricken ship

GIBRALTAR — Spain briefly closed off its border with Gibraltar yesterday while a cruise ship with about 2,000 passengers, including several dozen sickened by a highly contagious stomach virus, moored at the British colony.

The 13-hour border closing — the first in nearly two decades — angered London, which called the move unnecessary, and temporarily kept several hundred people from entering the tiny territory from Spain. Spain and Britain regularly disagree over the sovereignty of the once-strategic military post.

INDONESIA

At least 78 killed as floods hit resort

BUKIT LAWANG — A torrent of water, mud and logs swept through a resort village near a reserve for endangered orangutans on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, killing at least 78 persons, including five foreigners, and leaving more than 100 people missing, officials said yesterday.

Days of heavy rain triggered a surge Sunday night in the Bahorok River, which winds through the village of Bukit Lawang. Dozens of inns and restaurants that line its banks were destroyed.

Most of the village’s 2,500 people were asleep when the flood hit.

KENYA

African leaders target corruption

NAIROBI — Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki yesterday urged Africans to unite to fight widespread corruption that he said brought poverty on the people of the continent and shame upon its political leaders.

Mr. Kibaki, himself elected on a promise to tackle graft and nepotism in his country, was speaking at the opening of 16-nation congress aimed at rooting out graft that has stunted investment and growth in the poorest continent.

The event — hosted by the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption — is the first of its kind aimed at establishing ways of tackling a problem that fuels resentment.


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