- - Wednesday, August 18, 2010


3 Indian peacekeepers killed by rebels

KINSHASA | Dozens of rebels attacked a U.N. peacekeeping base under darkness in eastern Congo early Wednesday, killing three Indian soldiers and wounding seven other peacekeepers, an Indian army official said.

Indian army spokesman Virendra Singh said up to 50 rebels attacked a base in Kirumba in North Kivu province around 2 a.m., leading to an exchange of gunfire.

Nearly 4,000 Indian army soldiers are part of the U.N. Congo peacekeeping mission, which has about 20,000 people from various countries.

Repeated rebel attacks in Congo have called into question the ability of the U.N. force to protect civilians. The mission known as MONUC has lost more than 100 peacekeepers since 1999.

Congo’s president has said he wants all the peacekeepers out before September 2011, and the U.N. started a nominal withdrawal last month.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes and humanitarian groups, though, have warned that violence may spiral out of control if the peacekeepers all leave.

Rebels ousted longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, then turned on each other in back-to-back civil wars that became an international scramble for the country’s minerals and drew in soldiers from more than a half-dozen African nations.


32 people charged in bombing case

KAMPALA | Uganda has charged 32 people in connection with the July 11 bomb attacks in Kampala that killed 76 people as they watched the World Cup final, the country’s chief prosecutor said Wednesday.

Four purported Ugandan masterminds were among the 32 who were charged with 76 counts of murder, 10 counts of attempted murder and committing acts of terrorism, the director of public prosecutions, Richard Butera, told Agence France-Presse.

The four Ugandan men were paraded before the media last week and described how they had orchestrated the attacks at two sites on the evening of football’s World Cup final.

Mr. Butera said all the defendants were charged with the same offenses and will be tried together in one case.

Among the defendants are 14 Ugandans, 10 Kenyans, six Somalis, one Rwandan and one Pakistani, according to a list published Tuesday by the state-owned New Vision newspaper.

Pakistan’s Honorary Consul Boney Katatumba told AFP the charged Pakistani national was not registered with the consulate.


South unveils plan to shape cities

JUBA | The government of Southern Sudan says it has a $10.1 billion plan to transform its capital cities — some of them into the shapes of animals.

The announcement comes ahead of a scheduled January referendum on independence that is widely expected to pass. The proposal unveiled Tuesday would redesign the southern capital of Juba and the 10 state capitals.

Southern officials hope to model each regional capital after the flag of each state, including “Giraffe City” and “Pineapple City.” A new area outside of Juba would be made in the shape of a rhino.

Government officials didn’t explain how they would pay for the ambitious plans.

The referendum would split Sudan’s oil-rich south from the north.


Shell issues production warning

LAGOS | Royal Dutch Shell PLC cannot meet forecast production on oil coming from Nigeria’s restive southern delta after an increase of sabotage on its pipelines, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Tony Okonedo told the Associated Press that the company’s Nigerian subsidiary declared “force majeure” on its Bonny Light crude shipments. The term is used when it is impossible for an oil company to cover the promised supply from the field.

Mr. Okonedo blamed recent sabotage on pipelines near Bonny in Rivers state for the production warning. Shell said Sunday that the lines bore signs of drilled holes and hacksaw cuts, suggesting that thieves likely had tapped into the lines to siphon off crude oil to sell on the black market.

The subsidiary did not give an estimate of how much crude oil it had lost in the incidents, though it acknowledged the damaged pipelines had leaked crude oil into the environment. The company said it put containment booms into the surrounding waterways to stop the oil flow and hired a contractor to begin a cleanup.

Bonny Light crude, easily refined into gasoline, drives Shell’s oil production in Nigeria — long one of the oil giant’s most profitable regions. Shell, which discovered oil in Nigeria 50 years ago in the southern Niger Delta, remains the dominant oil major in the West African nation.


Army defends soldiers involved in child deaths

KAMPALA | Uganda’s army said Wednesday that soldiers who inadvertently killed several children in the country’s troubled northeastern region will not be disciplined.

The military launched an inquiry into the April 24 incident following a claim from the United Nations‘ human rights office that five children were shot dead during a disarmament exercise in the chronically troubled, gun-filled Karamoja region, which borders Kenya and Sudan.

“Among the 10 bodies found [by our investigators] were five children,” the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a May 7 statement that also called for a full investigation into the clash.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse Wednesday, army spokesman Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye said the soldiers’ conduct was “legitimate and justified.”

“Our findings are complete. These were cattle rustlers who were living away from the civilian population. They fired at our soldiers. Regrettably, they had children among them,” Col. Kulayigye said.

Col. Kulayigye argued that the local community deliberately duped the U.N. investigators.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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