- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007


U.N. criticizes political warfare

KINSHASA — The United Nations yesterday criticized the reputed intimidation of opposition members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after clashes between government troops and opposition fighters.

The U.N. mission in the central African country said it was “deeply worried by the intimidations and the threats against several opposition members, including members of parliament, senators, journalists and other people considered to be linked to [Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Congolese Liberation Movement] or close to people who are.”

“[The mission] has received information about 27 people, of whom 19 are opposition members and eight are journalists, whose residences continue to be visited by security forces and sometimes ransacked,” mission spokesman Kemal Saiki said. Diplomatic sources say at least 200 persons were killed in clashes between government troops and fighters loyal to main opposition leader Mr. Bemba in Kinshasa from March 22 to 25.


Hundreds of dead taken from streets

MOGADISHU — Clan members and Ethiopian soldiers cleared bodies from the streets of Somalia’s capital yesterday during a lull in fighting that has killed hundreds of people and driven tens of thousands from the ruined city.

An offensive by Somali troops and their Ethiopian backers against Islamist insurgents last week took its greatest toll on civilians. Bodies litter the tiny, dusty alleyways and back streets where much of the fighting took place. A member of Mogadishu’s dominant clan, the Hawiye, said clan members and Ethiopian officials were clearing the corpses.

U.S., European, Arab and African diplomats and the International Contact Group on Somalia condemned the fighting and demanded that both sides protect aid workers and civilians, and comply with international law.


Quarter of population disrupted by war

GENEVA — The Central African Republic faces a growing humanitarian disaster, with the lives of a quarter of its people disrupted by civil and regional warfare, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said yesterday.

Although the United Nations appealed in January for richer countries to provide $11.7 million to fund basic health care, schooling and water programs in the impoverished country, only $2.5 million has been pledged, the agency said.

“The situation is critical. There is a real humanitarian disaster in the making,” the agency’s newly appointed chief representative in the republic, Mahimbo Mdoe, told a press conference in Geneva.

“This is a moment when the [Central African Republic] needs assistance on a major scale,” said Mr. Mdoe, a Tanzanian experienced in African humanitarian relief. More than 1 million people — in a population of 4 million — were affected by the fighting, he said, calling it a spinoff from Sudan’s Darfur crisis.

Weekly notes …

Eritrea has called on Kenya to help secure the release of three of its citizens it says Kenya turned over to Somalia in January. The Foreign Ministry in Asmara said Kenya arrested the Eritreans in late December and detained them illegally for more than three weeks. The ministry did not explain what the three prisoners were doing before their arrest, nor where they had been arrested. Human Rights Watch on Saturday accused the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and the United States of secretly detaining hundreds of people fleeing the conflict in Somalia. … At least seven miners were killed when underground galleries in a diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo collapsed, a radio report in Kinshasa said yesterday. U.N.-backed Radio Okapi quoted police as saying seven bodies were brought out, but witnesses said dozens of people were underground when the galleries collapsed Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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