- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

SOMALIA

Islamists seize key town of Jowhar

MOGADISHU — Somalia’s Islamic fighters yesterday seized control of Jowhar, the most significant of several towns they have captured in recent months from the Western-backed interim government.

Seven persons, including a child, were killed in the attack, which highlights the government’s inability to assert its authority on Somalia despite support from Ethiopian and African Union troops.

A 15-month Islamist-led insurgency has killed more than 6,500 people and has seen a resurgence in recent months.

The Islamic fighters had seized four smaller towns and a military checkpoint near Mogadishu before yesterday’s capture of Jowhar, a town 50 miles north of Mogadishu that served as a temporary base for the interim government in 2005.

SUDAN

3 drivers killed delivering food aid

KHARTOUM — Three men delivering food aid for the United Nations in Sudan were killed in recent days, the latest in a surge of attacks that have delayed the arrival of vital supplies to needy recipients, the World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday.

The attacks occurred about two weeks after the WFP warned that banditry was reducing by half the amount of food normally transported to the western region of Darfur at this time of year.

The agency said the violence is damaging to the welfare of Sudan’s citizens and called for the attacks to stop.

The agency said 56 trucks have been involved in hijackings this year in Sudan, 36 trucks remain missing and 24 drivers are unaccounted for. Three WFP-contracted drivers were killed last October while transporting food to Darfur.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Prime minister vows to beef up security

BANGUI — Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera told the country’s parliament yesterday that his No. 1 priority was to beef up security forces.

“In order to reduce pockets of insecurity throughout the provinces, the capacities of our defense and security forces must be reinforced,” he told lawmakers ahead of a vote to approve his government’s program.

Since 2005, parts of the Central Africa Republic, especially the northwest, have been gripped by violence between rebels and government forces and attacks on civilian traffic by highwaymen. Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Despite receiving assistance from neighboring countries and the French army, government forces have struggled to contain the banditry.

NIGERIA

Briton killed in traffic jam

LAGOS — A British national was killed last weekend by unknown assailants on the road leading from Lagos to the border with Benin, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

The man, who worked for a company in charge of West African gas pipelines, was killed in an attack on his vehicle, which was apparently stuck in a deliberate traffic jam, according to the sources.

The assailants fired at the car, killing the Briton on the spot and wounding his driver. Two passengers, a Briton and an American, were robbed. The identities of the victims were not released.

Attacks on travelers frequently occur on the road between Lagos and the border with Benin. Several months ago, a French diplomat and his family were the victims of an attack but managed to escape.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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