- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2009


Pirate attacks drop in 4 past months

LONDON | Somali pirate attacks have fallen in the past four months year-on-year helped by the presence of foreign navies and more effective deterrence measures by ships, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday.

But it said Somali pirate attacks continued and gunmen were firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades indiscriminately to intimidate ship captains into stopping.

Somali pirate gangs have caused havoc in the waterways linking Europe with Asia this year and have received millions of dollars in ransom payments.

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the London-based IMB, said there were 43 attacks and six hijackings involving Somali pirates from June to October, down from 57 attacks on ships and 23 hijackings in the same period in 2008.

In the second quarter of 2009, which was the peak, there were 140 attacks and 23 hijackings.


Islamists order radio shutdown

MOGADISHU | A powerful Islamist group linked to al Qaeda on Wednesday ordered two radio stations in southwestern Somalia to stop broadcasts indefinitely.

Al-Shabab delivered letters to Jubba and Warsan Radio stations ordering the shutdown without giving any reasons, said Mohamed Adawe, a journalist with Jubba Radio.

Another Jubba Radio journalist, Abdikarin Jakarta, said the letters threatened the stations with unspecified action if they disobeyed the closure orders.

In recent months al-Shabab asked the stations to stop playing music, which they did, Mr. Adawe said. Then al-Shabab complained about programs the stations aired that were generated by Voice of America and the United Nation’s Integrated Regional Information Networks that included music, he said.

The stations’ managers had convinced al-Shabab they have no control over the programs and the Islamist group allowed them to continue airing them, he said.

Al-Shabab, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, is seeking to overthrow the fragile U.N.-backed government in the capital, Mogadishu. It controls much of southern Somalia, where it imposes a strict form of Islam.

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places for the media to work. At least five journalists have been gunned down by unknown assailants this year.


Rwanda seeks tribunal archives

KIGALI | Rwanda wants unfinished cases currently before the U.N.-backed tribunal trying genocide suspects to be transferred to its courts along with the tribunal’s archives, which it says are part of its heritage.

The U.N. Security Council has yet to decide the custodian of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was set up in late 1994 after the genocide of some 800,000 people in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Rosemary Museminali, made the appeal for transfer during a visit by the U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro on Tuesday.

In May, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon handed the Security Council a report on the archives of the Rwanda tribunal and of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The Rwanda tribunal, which sits in Arusha, Tanzania, is expected to conclude its lower court cases by the end of 2010.


Cooperation vowed in crackdown probe

UNITED NATIONS | Guinea’s military government has promised to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry into a bloody crackdown on protesters in the West African country last month, a senior U.N. official said Wednesday.

Haile Menkerios, the top Africa official in the U.N. political affairs department, also told reporters that the United Nations would deploy human rights observers in Guinea, which he visited last weekend.

“We met with the president, [Capt. Moussa] Dadis Camara, who said himself he is eager to have this commission come, and his government will fully cooperate with it,” Mr. Menkerios said after briefing the U.N. Security Council. “We have it in writing.”

Capt. Camara took power in a coup last December after the death of veteran strongman President Lansana Conte.

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