- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Red Cross: 8 staff kidnapped in eastern Congo

GENEVA | Eight Red Cross workers have been kidnapped by a militia group in eastern Congo and negotiations are under way to secure their release, the aid group said Tuesday.

One Congolese official said the seizure of the aid workers was an attempt by the rebels “to use them as human shields” and prevent a planned army assault.

The seven Congolese and one Swiss national were kidnapped Friday near the town of Fizi in Congo’s South Kivu province by the Mai Mai Yakutumba rebels, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in Geneva.

“We are negotiating with them and insisting on the immediate release of our colleagues,” Red Cross spokeswoman Nicole Engelbrecht told the Associated Press.

She said the captors have made no demand for ransom and the Red Cross never pays any.

The Mai Mai militia is one of many armed groups in the area. Their fighters have been seen using rudimentary weapons like spears and are believed to value mysticism.


Ousted president sets terms for resignation

TEYIT | Kyrgyzstan’s toppled president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, offered on Tuesday to resign for the first time since he was ousted in protests, but only if he receives security guarantees from his foes.

His offer came after the interim authorities warned Mr. Bakiyev that the country’s special forces would arrest him if he failed to surrender and carried on holding rallies in his southern stronghold where he fled after the uprising.

But with no compromise in sight and the interim government seeking to assert its authority in the capital after the protests that left 83 dead, the strategic Central Asian country, home to a key U.S. airbase, remained dangerously on the edge.


African army chiefs unite against desert terrorism

ALGIERS | Army chiefs from seven African nations gathered Tuesday in Algiers to coordinate efforts against a regional al Qaeda offshoot and arms and drugs traffickers that roam across their porous common borders in the Sahara.

Their goal is to boost cross-border patrols and surveillance, so that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other criminal groups can’t increase their footprint over the no man’s land stretching across the Sahara, the world’s largest desert.

Army chiefs of staff are “discussing issues of defense and common security, to lift possible misunderstandings and establish a common strategy against migratory threats,” said Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, the Algerian army chief of staff and meeting host, according to the state news agency APS.

Other nations attending included Libya, Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. All join borders in the Sahara and the sprawling semi-desert region to its south, known as the Sahel, an area the size of western Europe regularly plagued by insecurity and local rebellions.


Rancher sentenced in U.S. nun’s murder

RIO DE JANEIRO | A Brazilian rancher was sentenced to 30 years for ordering the murder of U.S. nun and Amazon defender Dorothy Stang, making him the only “mastermind” behind any of the hundreds of activists killed in the last two decades currently in jail.

After 15 hours of deliberation, jurors in the jungle city of Belem found that Vitalmiro Moura engineered the 73-year-old Ms. Stang’s killing in 2005 because she blocked him and another rancher from taking over land the government gave to farmers. Moura denied any involvement in the killing and said he didn’t know the victim.

The case was seen as a test of Brazil’s ability to battle the near absolute impunity that reigns in the Amazon — whether it be the murder of activists or illegal deforestation.

More than 1,200 people have been killed in the last two decades in land conflicts across Brazil, mostly in the Amazon, according to Catholic Land Pastoral, a watchdog group that tracks rural violence in Latin America’s largest nation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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