- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

UGANDA

Rebel attacks resume in eastern districts

KAMPALA — Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels ended a four-month lull in fighting in eastern Uganda this week, raiding a village and hacking eight people to death, a military spokesman said yesterday.

“They sneaked into eastern Uganda’s Odilil village in Orungo subcounty near the border with the northern Lira district on Monday, hacked people to death, and five bodies were recovered at the scene of the attack,” Soroti district army spokesman Lt. David Kozoola told Agence France-Presse.

On Monday, a United Nations Children’s Fund official in Gulu, farther north and to the west, said LRA rebels killed at least 337 people near Barlonyo camp on Feb. 21 in their worst massacre in years.

NIGERIA

Expert panel says polio vaccine is safe

ABUJA — An expert panel set up by the Nigerian government to test polio vaccine samples of the World Health Organization has pronounced the vaccine safe, clearing the way for a resumption of an emergency inoculation drive, officials said yesterday.

The committee was briefing President Olusegun Obasanjo on the results of its tests, which were carried out in Indian and South African laboratories after accusations from radical Muslim leaders that Western agents had contaminated vaccines approved by the United Nations with antifertility agents.

“It is the considered view of this committee that the oral polio vaccine, when used as recommended in the Global Polio Eradication Program, is safe,” said Kyari Ibn-Umar, chairman of the panel of health experts and regional politicians.

Last month, Kano state in northern Nigeria — epicenter of the world’s fastest-growing polio outbreak — prevented U.N. health agencies from vaccinating children, amid claims by Islamic leaders that the United States was seeking to depopulate Africa using contaminated drugs.

Weekly notes

Chinese troops are en route to a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia, the official Xinhua news agency reports. A 70-member advance team of an engineering group left Shenyang on Tuesday, Xinhua said, and a 35-member medical team left Fuzhou. China eventually will send 550 peacekeeping troops to the West African country — a 240-member transport company, a 275-member engineering team and 35 medical staff for a U.N. hospital. … A third round of talks aimed at restoring a functional government in Somalia resumed in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday, with delegates focusing on how power would be shared in the Horn of Africa nation. About 360 delegates — including elders of five clans, warlords and civic leaders — met at five locations in Nairobi. Under the Transitional Federal Charter signed Jan. 29, minority clans will have 31 seats and women will occupy 55 of the 275 parliament seats.

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