- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006


54,700 dead, missing after floods

SEOUL — About 54,700 people were dead or missing and 2.5 million others homeless after last month’s floods in North Korea, the worst in the country’s history, an independent humanitarian group said yesterday.

The figure is a huge leap from the 10,000 dead or missing reported earlier by Good Friends, a South Korean group and long-term aid partner for North Korea.

Large tracts of farmland and entire villages are thought to have been washed away in floods and landslides, raising serious concerns about the impoverished country’s ability to feed itself.


Key port seized in push by Islamists

MOGADISHU — An Islamist militia took over a key port in central Somalia yesterday, expanding a territorial push from its base in Mogadishu that is denting the interim government’s aspirations to national authority.

Residents said heavily armed fighters in troop carriers rode into Hobyo at dawn to take control of the town without any fighting. A surrender had been negotiated the previous evening with forces there who are loyal to a warlord who is on the run.

The Islamists’ latest move — consolidating their grip on a swath of south-central Somalia since taking Mogadishu in June — is a further challenge to the virtually powerless interim government based in the provincial town of Baidoa.


Fisherman killed by Russian patrol

SAPPORO — A Russian border patrol boat fired on a Japanese crab fishing boat near disputed islands off Japan’s northern coast yesterday morning, killing one fisherman and detaining three others, Japanese and Russian authorities said.

Japan lodged a protest, while Russia said the border patrol fired a warning shot because the fishing boat failed to obey an order to stop after the border guards suspected it of fishing for crab illegally in waters claimed by Russia. Russian authorities seized the fishing boat.

Not since October 1956 has a Japanese fisherman been fatally shot by the Russian border patrol, the Coast Guard said.


Rebels request peace mediation

JUBA, Sudan — Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels yesterday asked South Africa to join efforts to mediate faltering peace talks with the Ugandan government aimed at ending two decades of fighting.

LRA leader Joseph Kony made the announcement through his deputy Vincent Otti a day after the rebels won a 72-hour break in peace talks with the government in order to mourn the death of a top commander — and International Criminal Court fugitive — killed by the army over the weekend.

Mr. Otti said South Africa had a successful track record in conflict resolution in Africa.


Former dictator Stroessner dies

BRASILIA, Brazil — Former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, a Cold War general who ruled ruthlessly from 1954 to 1989 and fostered a religious following, died yesterday in Brazil, where he fled his impoverished nation and potential prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Gen. Stroessner, 93, had been living in Brazil since he was ousted from power in a February 1989 coup led by army commander Gen. Andres Rodriguez.

Gen. Stroessner had been in a hospital since late July for a hernia operation, then suffered from pneumonia and had been sedated and on a ventilator, hospital sources said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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