- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009


Islamist attack kills 3 civilians

MOGADISHU | An attack by Islamic insurgents on Somali troops near an African Union peacekeeping base in the capital killed a sleeping child and at least two other civilians early Wednesday, as regional leaders met to discuss ways of aiding the beleaguered government.

The 6-year-old child was among those killed when a mortar shell slammed into a home near the AU base, Mogadishu resident Farhiyo Sharif Awale said.

AU spokesman Lt. Cize Justice said that none of his troops was hurt and that the attack was aimed at government forces stationed near the AU base.

In recent weeks, Islamic insurgents have stepped up attacks aimed at toppling Somalia’s West-backed government, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee Mogadishu. At least 45,000 people have left since May 8, the United Nations reported Wednesday.


President to seek re-election in 2011

LUSAKA | Zambian President Rupiah Banda will seek re-election in 2011, renewing his fierce rivalry with main opposition leader Michael Sata who narrowly lost a disputed vote last year.

Mr. Banda, who had indicated in 2008 that his mission was only to complete economic programs started by his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa, said he would heed calls by ruling party supporters urging him to contest the 2011 vote.

Mr. Banda’s announcement came a week after Mr. Sata announced that he would run for the presidency in 2011. Both will be 74 at the time of the 2011 election.

Zambia will vote that year in presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. Mr. Banda’s predecessor, Mr. Mwanawasa, died in August after a stroke.


Opposition rejects results in stronghold

LILONGWE | Malawi’s opposition on Wednesday rejected early election results showing that the president had a big lead in their stronghold, raising doubts over the vote in the poor but fast-growing African country.

The election has tested political stability after a drawn-out power struggle between President Bingu wa Mutharika and the faction supported by former President Bakili Muluzi, who is excluded from the contest.

The Malawi Congress Party, headed by opposition presidential candidate John Tembo, demanded a halt to vote counting in Central Province because of irregularities, including ballots being delivered to counting stations in open envelopes.

Central Province is an opposition stronghold, but the president took an early lead in the count there with 845,000 votes compared with 254,000 for Mr. Tembo, according to a private radio station accredited to release results.

The electoral commission said complaints would only be dealt with after all votes had been received.


Shooting follows raids on militants

WARRI | Shooting broke out in the Nigerian oil port city of Warri on Wednesday after days of military helicopter and gunboat raids on militant camps in the surrounding area, witnesses said.

A witness said there appeared to be a gunbattle between navy personnel and local youths near a naval base in the Miller Waterside area of Warri.

Nigeria last week launched its biggest military offensive for years in the Niger Delta, bombarding militant camps near Warri from the air and sea before sending in hundreds of ground troops to try to flush rebel fighters out of local communities.

Some firms have evacuated nonessential personnel from the area around Warri in Delta state for fear that militant fighters will launch retaliatory attacks on Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, security sources say.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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