- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2008

PAKISTAN

Polish engineer kidnapped in north

ISLAMABAD | Gunmen kidnapped a Polish engineer in northern Pakistan yesterday, shooting dead his two drivers and a security guard during the abduction in the latest violence to hit the nation, officials said.

Poland’s foreign ministry confirmed the kidnapping of Piotr Stanczak, while the engineer’s company said he was ambushed as he and colleagues were traveling to oil plants northeast of the Pakistani capital to carry out some tests.

The kidnapped engineer’s sister, Danuta Paszek, made a tearful plea on Polish television to his captors to release him.

“Anyone in my situation would ask for help to save him so he can come home safe and well,” she said.

Pakistan police said a search was underway after the gunmen fled with the engineer in their own vehicle near the village of Pind Sultani in Attock district, about 68 miles from Islamabad.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban assassins kill female police leader

KANDAHAR | Taliban militants shot dead the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan Sunday and killed four more policemen in other attacks.

The new violence, part of a Taliban-led insurgency sweeping Afghanistan, came as security officials said they had killed about 30 rebels in various operations, although there were allegations that civilians were among the dead.

Malalai Kakar, the most senior policewoman in the southern city of Kandahar and a mother of six, was shot dead by gunmen who had been waiting outside her home, government officials said.

Her teenaged son, who was driving her to work, was badly hurt.

A doctor in the city’s main hospital said Ms. Kakar, aged around 40, was shot in the head. “She died on the spot and her son was badly injured …,” he said on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the extremist Taliban movement said the assassins were from his group.

“We killed Malalai Kakar,” spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP. “She was our target and we successfully eliminated our target.”

President Hamid Karzai said in a statement the killing was an “act of cowardice” by Afghanistan’s “enemies.”

She headed a team of at least 10 women police officers and had reportedly received numerous death threats.

ETHIOPIA

Explosion at hotel kills 4, injures 20

ADDIS ABABA | An explosion outside a hotel in Ethiopia’s volatile eastern region killed four people Sunday and injured 20 others, a federal police spokesman said.

The explosion occurred at 10:20 a.m. outside a hotel in the eastern Ethiopia town of Jijiga, some 430 miles east of the capital, Addis Ababa, said spokesman Demsash Hailu.

“It is a criminal act. It’s not an accident. It was a terrorist action,” he said.

The explosion killed or injured people in front of the hotel and on the street but did not damage the hotel itself, he said, declining to say what caused the explosion or who may have caused it.

Jijiga is the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, where separatist rebels have been fighting for autonomy for decades.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front has been fighting for the independence of a large part of Ethiopia’s southeastern region, officially called the Somali region but also known as the Ogaden.

The conflict intensified in May 2007 when the government launched an offensive against the rebels after a rebel attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field that killed 74 workers.

SUDAN

Police gun down tourist kidnappers

KHARTOUM | Eight kidnappers of a group of European tourists and their Egyptian guides led soldiers on a high-speed desert chase Sunday, ending in a firefight that killed all but two of the gunmen, Sudan’s military spokesman said.

The two surviving kidnappers told Sudanese soldiers that the tourists were being held by 35 more gunmen in Chad, said the spokesman, Sawarmy Khaled.

The desert safari tour of 11 Europeans and eight Egyptians was seized by gunmen deep in the southern Egyptian deserts Sept. 19 and the victims have apparently been shuttled around in the remote region where Sudan, Chad, Egypt and Libya share borders.

Mr. Khaled told the Associated Press that Sudanese soldiers were searching south of the Jebel Oweinat region near the Libyan border when they came upon a white vehicle carrying eight gunmen.

SOMALIA

Refugees drown heading for Yemen

GENEVA | At least 52 Somali nationals have died in the Gulf of Aden as they tried to make their way to Yemen, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Sunday.

Engine failure on the errant boat in which they were travelling left the passengers without food or water for 18 days. Seventy-one survived after being saved by Yemen coastguards.

Survivors said the boat left Sept. 3 with at least 124 people on board, but the engine broke down a few hours after leaving Somalia. Forty-eight died onboard, while four others died later in hospital.

The surviving passengers, aged between two and 40 years old, have been taken into care by U.N. aid workers in Mayfa’a (Yemen).

Many Somalis choose this time of year to seek refuge in a neighboring Muslim country. Somalia’s storm season finishes at the end of August while other countries reduce the level of border security personnel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the UNHCR says.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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