- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009


Last Ethiopian troops leave capital

MOGADISHU | The last Ethiopian troops left Somalia’s capital Thursday after a two-year deployment and Islamist militiamen took control of the bases, fueling fears they could try to expand their power in this lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Ethiopia’s prime minister said he could not predict what would happen when the last of his troops leave Somalia, but he expected the extremist Islamic group, al-Shabab, and others to try to seize control.

Al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda, says it wants to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.


Cabinet member escapes bomb

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi Cabinet member escaped injury Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in Baghdad.

Abed Theyab, minister of higher education, was traveling to work when the bomb went off as he passed through the Karradah district, police said. No one in the convoy was hurt but three civilian bystanders were wounded, police added.

In another attack, a government security guard was killed when a bomb exploded on Nidal Street near Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, police reported. The target was thought to have been a convoy carrying employees of the Housing Ministry to work.

Late Thursday, two rockets or mortars struck the Green Zone, injuring one person, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said the projectiles were fired from a Shi’ite area of east Baghdad into the enclave, which includes Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities fear an increase in violence ahead of the Jan. 31 elections, when voters in 14 of the 18 provinces choose members of regional ruling councils.


Opposition leader to meet Mugabe

JOHANNESBURG | Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader will return home this weekend after more than two months out of the country, and planned to meet with President Robert Mugabe in an effort to resolve the stalemate over a power-sharing agreement.

Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters in South Africa on Thursday, was under no illusions a simple conversation would be enough to persuade Mr. Mugabe to cede some of the power he has held for nearly three decades. And Mr. Tsvangirai said he would be bringing his own conditions to the meeting, among them a call for the release of supporters and peace activists being tried on what Mr. Tsvangirai called “trumped up” charges of plotting to overthrow Mr. Mugabe.

In the Zimbabwean capital Thursday, one of the most prominent of those accused sobbed on the stand as she told a judge she had been beaten by unknown men who took her from her home Dec. 3. Human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was held at an undisclosed location until Dec. 23, when she was taken to a jail.


Army general killed in chopper crash

KABUL | A top Afghan army general was killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in western Afghanistan, and two British troops died in a blast in the country’s south, officials said.

Gen. Fazaludin Sayar was one of the Afghan army’s four regional commanders, in charge of the entire west of the country. His Mi-17 helicopter hit bad weather in the morning and went down in the Adraskan district of Herat province, the ministry said. All 12 others aboard were also killed, the statement said. The helicopter had been headed to neighboring Farah province.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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