- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

KENYA

Opposition calls off mass protests

NAIROBI — President Mwai Kibaki yesterday offered his first public commitment to creating the prime minister’s post his rivals have been demanding, and Kenya’s opposition called off mass protests.

Both sides have been under mounting pressure to share power to end a dispute over who won the Dec. 27 presidential election. The crisis has left more than 1,000 people dead and eviscerated the East African country’s economy.

Kofi Annan, the former U.N. chief mediating the crisis, suspended monthlong talks between the two political parties on Tuesday, saying he would personally appeal to their leaders to strike a deal.

GAZA STRIP

Rocket kills Israeli after air strike

GAZA CITY — A rocket launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip killed a man in Israel yesterday, the first such death in nine months, and Israeli air strikes killed six Palestinian militants and five civilians in the territory.

The rocket, one of 40 Hamas said it fired in response to an air strike, seemed certain to increase public pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to order tougher Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip that might include a wide-scale ground operation.

Israel’s air force also bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, witnesses said. The blast damaged nearby buildings, killing a 6-month-old baby and wounding at least 14 persons, hospital officials said.

COLOMBIA

FARC rebels free four hostages

SAN JOSE DEL GUAVIARE — Marxist rebels freed four Colombian lawmakers held hostage for years in the jungle yesterday, in a victory for President Hugo Chavez of neighboring Venezuela who brokered the deal.

Venezuelan helicopters painted with Red Cross logos swooped into the dense jungle to pick up the three men and a woman, all abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, more than six years ago.

A column of about 60 rebels handed over Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez, Orlando Beltran and Jorge Gechem, who is thought to be suffering from severe heart problems.

THAILAND

Thaksin heads home after ouster, exile

HONG KONG — Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006 amid corruption accusations, headed home from exile yesterday to face charges and vowed to stay out of politics forever.

Thousands awaited his arrival at Bangkok’s international airport. He said he was worried about his safety but expressed faith in Thailand’s justice system.

“I believe in the Thai justice system, especially the court system,” Mr. Thaksin, 58, said at Hong Kong’s airport, surrounded by about 40 supporters.

BRITAIN

Police foiled plot to kill Saudi king

BRIGHTON — British police thwarted a suspected plot to kill the king of Saudi Arabia during a state visit to Britain last year, a senior officer said yesterday.

Officers caught a courier at London’s Heathrow Airport attempting to smuggle $330,000 in cash into Britain to pay a cell of dissident Saudi Arabians, said Detective Superintendent Mark Holmes, head of the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.

King Abdullah’s visit in late October and early November was the first trip by a Saudi monarch to see Queen Elizabeth II in 20 years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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