- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

SOMALIA

Government on alertas Islamists advance

MOGADISHU — A heavily armed Islamist militia advanced closer to the seat of Somalia’s interim administration yesterday, prompting the government to put its troops on alert against “aggression.”

“If whatever we are hearing is true, and they are [22 miles] from Baidoa, then we consider this an act of aggression,” Ibrahim Adan Hassan, minister of air and land transport, told Reuters news agency from the government’s provincial headquarters.

Somalia has been without central rule since the ouster of a military dictator in 1991, and the Islamists’ recent takeover of the capital Mogadishu has threatened the aspirations of President Abdullahi Yusuf’s Western-backed interim government.

CONGO

6 TV stations barredfrom poll coverage

KINSHASA — Six television stations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been barred from covering election campaigns for 72 hours as the country prepares for a landmark vote on July 30, officials said.

The stations, including the state-owned Congolese National Radio Television, were sanctioned by the Media High Authority for repeated breaches of broadcasting codes related to elections. Authority officials did not specify the breaches.

IVORY COAST

Gbagbo loyalistsprotest voter ID plan

ABIDJAN — Hundreds of youths loyal to Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo blocked roads in much of Abidjan yesterday to protest a U.N.-backed population identification exercise ahead of October elections.

Groups of so-called Young Patriots burned tires along the roads and set up barricades, grinding business in the commercial capital to a halt but attracting no action from the police.

The Young Patriots were on the front line of massive anti-U.N. demonstrations, which left five persons dead in January, and also led violent anti-French protests in November 2004.

Weekly notes …

A four-story apartment building collapsed in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, Tuesday night, and Red Cross officials helping pull survivors out of the rubble yesterday said at least 16 persons were killed. Up to 180 persons were thought to live in the building in a poor neighborhood, and a Red Cross official said 36 persons, many of them wounded and caked with dust and debris, had been rescued. … South Africans marked former President Nelson Mandela’s 88th birthday Tuesday with tributes and praise, and the man who led his country out of apartheid celebrated privately with his children and grandchildren at his Johannesburg home. Mr. Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, announced in 2004 that he was retiring and has made few public appearances since then.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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