Leftist governor named prime minister
LIMA | A leftist provincial governor said Saturday that he has accepted an offer to become Peru‘s new prime minister, after President Alan Garcia fired his entire Cabinet over a widening corruption scandal involving oil and gas contracts.
By picking Yehude Simon, governor of the northern province of Lambayeque who was imprisoned a decade ago for his links to a guerrilla group, Mr. Garcia may be trying to place greater emphasis on social programs, neutralize critics on the left and regain support in the provinces, where he is especially unpopular.
He faced calls from opposition leaders to reshuffle his Cabinet after audiotapes emerged that linked members of his APRA party to a plan to steer lucrative petroleum contracts to favored bidders in exchange for bribes.
Military test-fires ballistic missile
MURMANSK | Russia test-launched a strategic missile to the equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean for the first time on Saturday, at a time when Moscow‘s growing assertiveness is fueling tension with the West.
President Dmitry Medvedev, who watched the launch from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, has said problems caused by global financial turmoil would not hurt Russian plans to revive its armed forces, a symbol for Moscow’s resurgence.
Russia’s newest missile, the Sineva, was launched by the nuclear-powered submarine Tula from an underwater position in the Arctic Barents Sea and hit an unspecified area about 7,200 miles away near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, a navy spokesman said.
Christians flee ‘liquidation’ effort
MOSUL | Nearly 1,000 Christian families fled their homes in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after the worst wave of violence against them in five years, Iraqi officials say.
The minority Christians have taken shelter over the past 24 hours in schools and churches in the northern and eastern fringes of Nineveh province after attacks that have killed at least 11 Christians since Sept. 28.
Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said Iraq’s Christians were facing a campaign of “liquidation” and called on the U.S. military to do more to protect them.
Strong earthquake kills 12, injures 100
MOSCOW | A strong earthquake centered in the restive Russian region of Chechnya killed at least 12 people, injured more than 100 others and caused widespread havoc on Saturday.
The quake, which struck at about noon, reverberated through the Caucasus mountains, causing severe damage to infrastructure including roads, power supplies and communications, Russian news agencies reported.
Measuring magnitude 6.3, according to Strasbourg observatory estimates, the earthquake was felt in five regions of the Russian north Caucasus and as far away as neighboring Georgia and Armenia.
From wire dispatches and staff reports