- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008


Gunmen kidnap Western journalists

BOSASSO | Somali gunmen Wednesday kidnapped two Western journalists in the northern province of Puntland, police said, in the latest attack on foreigners working in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Somalia has been immersed in civil conflict for 17 years. The government is fighting a 2-year-old Islamist insurgency, while the chaos has fueled piracy in Somalia’s waters, bringing foreign warships rushing to the area.

“I think both the journalists are British, but we shall investigate. … We are sending police to free them,” Puntland’s police spokesman Abshir Said Jama told Reuters news service.

Two freelancers, an Australian and a Canadian, are still being held after being seized in the capital, Mogadishu, in August. Foreign aid workers have also been increasingly targeted this year, with a string of assassinations and kidnappings.


Indian peacekeepers told to stay away

KINSHASA | Congo refuses to accept Indian troops in the reinforcements planned for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country, government spokesman Lambert Mende said Wednesday.

Mr. Mende confirmed the government had written to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last weekend rejecting any Indians in the 3,000 extra troops planned for the mission known as MONUC.

He refused to give a reason, saying that Congo had every right to reject the deployment on its territory of forces from a particular country “for reasons of sovereignty.”

India has the largest contingent in MONUC with some 4,400 men and has said it is willing to provide 1,500 more.

Indian peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse, and MONUC admitted in August that some Indian troops could have been involved.


Neighbors threaten to close borders

JOHANNESBURG | Zimbabwe’s neighbors should close their borders in an attempt to bring down President Robert Mugabe, Botswana’s foreign minister said Wednesday in the strongest call yet for action from Africa.

Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani told British Broadcasting Corp. World News television that southern nations have failed to move Mr. Mugabe with mediation and they should now impose sanctions.

The leaders should “tell Mugabe to his face, ‘Look, now you are on your own, we are switching off, we are closing your borders,’ and I don’t think he would last. If no [gasoline] went in for a week, he can’t last,” Mr. Skelemani said.

Botswana and Zambia have been the lone African voices against Mr. Mugabe as Zimbabwe has undergone an economic and political crisis.

Mozambique and South Africa also border Zimbabwe.


Drugmaker tied to children’s deaths

LAGOS | Regulators shut down a pharmaceutical company and ordered its teething formula pulled from shelves after 25 children who took it died, officials said Wednesday.

Nigeria’s food and drug administration said that 11 other children were being treated after being given “My Pikin Baby Teething Mixture,” which listed paracetemol, or acetaminophen, and an antihistamine agent as ingredients. The agency said it was investigating what caused the deaths.

The afflicted children were stricken with fever, convulsions, diarrhea and vomiting and were unable to urinate, the agency said. The first case was reported Nov. 19.

The agency said that the manufacturer, Lagos-based Barewa Pharmaceuticals Ltd., has been closed and the formula ordered removed from shelves across the nation of 140 million people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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