- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009

SOMALIA

2 kidnapped journalists freed

MOGADISHU | A Canadian and an Australian journalist were freed Wednesday after more than a year in captivity, Somali officials said.

Police spokesman Col. Abdulhai Hassan Barise said Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan were at a Mogadishu hotel with Somali lawmaker Botan Isse Alin. He declined to say whether ransom was paid for their release.

The journalists were kidnapped in August 2008 along with their Somali driver and two Somali guards while traveling southwest of the capital.

Journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransom in Somalia, one of the world’s poorest and most war-torn countries. Foreign and local workers generally travel in convoys heavily guarded by freelance militiamen.

Somalia has been mired in anarchy and chaos since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

CONGO

Massacre witnesses said threatened

THE HAGUE | Witnesses testifying against two Congolese warlords at the International Criminal Court have been threatened and the court does not have the resources to fully protect them, a senior investigator testified Wednesday.

The investigator spoke on the second day of the trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, who are accused of planning and directing a massacre of more than 200 villagers in Bogoro, a strategically important village in eastern Congo, on Feb. 24, 2003.

Mr. Katanga and Mr. Ngudjolo both have pleaded not guilty to three counts of crimes against humanity and seven war crimes including murder, rape, pillage, sexual slavery and using child soldiers in the slaughter.

Prosecutors plan to call 26 witnesses and 21 of them will be protected in court to shield their identity to try to prevent possible retaliation.

The investigator testified Wednesday as the first witness to outline how her team built its case against Mr. Katanga and Mr. Ngudjolo. Her identity also was shielded.

GUINEA

Junta threatens to bar opposition

DAKAR | Guinea’s military junta on Wednesday threatened to keep opposition leaders out of a presidential election that the country’s election watchdog said would be impossible to hold anyway.

Political tensions also mounted ahead of the arrival of a U.N. team to investigate a massacre of opposition demonstrators in a stadium in which at least 150 people were killed, according to the U.N. and rights groups.

International donors have withdrawn aid in an effort to press Moussa Dadis Camara’s junta into talks with the opposition.

Speaking in Burkina Faso, where President Blaise Campaore has tried to mediate in the crisis, the junta’s Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif told Agence France-Presse that no one who has been prime minister in Guinea would be allowed to take part in the presidential election scheduled for Jan. 31.

SOMALIA

Rebels order halt to relief food imports

MOGADISHU | The U.N. World Food Program must immediately stop importing relief rations to Somalia, hard-line rebels said Wednesday, accusing the aid agency of devastating local agriculture.

Al Shabaab insurgents control most of the south of the drought-ravaged country, where fighting has worsened one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises. Washington says the group is al Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of Africa nation.

WFP is a major player in the international response to the emergency. Experts say 3.76 million people - or half the Somali population - now need aid, and that three-quarters of those are concentrated in central and southern regions.

But al Shabaab’s self-styled Office for the Supervision of the Affairs of Foreign Agencies said imports by the U.N. organization had become a barrier to Somalia’s self-sufficiency.

The rebels said all local businesspeople contracted by WFP must terminate those contracts before Jan. 1 and that WFP must empty its warehouses and food stocks by the same date.

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