- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

SOMALIA

Troops attack insurgent positions

MOGADISHU — Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies pounded insurgent positions in the capital with bombs and tank shells yesterday, sending residents fleeing a surge in fighting that killed at least 10 persons and wounded 50.

A person reported seeing a dead soldier’s body dragged through the streets.

The military operation was the beginning of a three-day push to restore order in Mogadishu as Ethiopian troops, who helped oust an Islamist militia, withdraw, said Mohamed Mohamud Husein, spokesman for the Somali president.

Despite near-daily attacks from fighters thought to be the remnants of the Islamist militia, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his forces had “broken the backbones” of the insurgents and that a majority of his troops had left Somalia.

ZIMBABWE

Summit asks Mbeki to mediate talks

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — African leaders yesterday put South African President Thabo Mbeki in charge of defusing Zimbabwe’s deepening political crisis, leaving him to mediate between President Robert Mugabe and his opponents.

A special summit of the Southern African Development Community also urged the West to drop sanctions against the Mugabe government and appealed to Britain to “honor its commitments” to fund land reforms in its former colony.

The summit, attended by Mr. Mugabe, followed two weeks of pressure on the Zimbabwean president after police arrested opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai while he was attempting to attend an anti-government prayer meeting.

CUBA

Castro attacks U.S. ethanol plan

HAVANA — Fidel Castro lashed out against U.S. biofuel plans in an op-ed piece published yesterday, a sign Cuba’s 80-year-old leader may be taking a more active role in public affairs after months sidelined by a still undisclosed illness.

The article is written in the same kind of apocalyptic style Mr. Castro typically adopts when discussing the impact of U.S. international policies on developing nations, and there was no reason to doubt he was the author.

President Bush’s support for using crops to produce ethanol for cars could deplete food stocks in developing nations, the article in the Communist Party daily Granma asserts.

IVORY COAST

Rebel becomes prime minister

ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast’s president signed a decree yesterday naming a rebel leader prime minister as part of a power-sharing peace plan.

With the signature of President Laurent Gbagbo, rebel chief Guillaume Soro officially stepped into his new role under the plan to unite a country split between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south.

CANADA

Thin ice leads to cut in size of seal cull

OTTAWA — Canada will cut back the number of harp seals that hunters can kill this year to 270,000 from 335,000 in 2006 because of bad ice conditions off its East Coast, Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said yesterday.

The animals are either shot or clubbed to death on ice floes. The hunt — condemned by animal rights activists as inhumane — had been supposed to start on Wednesday.

KENYA

2 charged in killing of American women

NAIROBI — Kenya charged two men yesterday with killing two American women riding in a U.S. Embassy vehicle that was carjacked near Nairobi in January.

Simon Wanaina and Paul Kariuki denied the charges before the chief magistrate’s court in the capital. Police say men with AK-47 rifles killed the women, both relatives of a U.S. diplomat, before stealing their car.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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