- - Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Blast at refugee camp, Somali child deaths up

NAIROBI — An increasing number of children are being caught in attacks and crossfire across south and central Somalia, the U.N.’s children agency said Tuesday, as a land mine exploded at the world’s largest refugee camp in neighboring Kenya, wounding two people.

UNICEF said that 24 children were killed in conflict in Somalia in October, nearly double the confirmed child killings of every other month this year. UNICEF said 58 children also were confirmed to have been injured in October, the highest number this year.

UNICEF’s representative to Somalia, Sikander Khan, said the true numbers are likely to be even higher.

“Somali children’s lives are being put more and more in grave danger with the increasing conflict. In accordance with international law, we call on all parties to the conflict in Somalia to stop all killing, maiming, recruitment for armed services and rape of children,” Mr. Khan said.

Kenyan troops moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants in mid-October, but UNICEF spokesman Jaya Murthy said the agency is not attributing the increased violence to a particular group.

The al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Mogadishu last month that killed more than 100 people.

UNICEF is one of the few international agencies that has access to southern Somalia, a region that is largely controlled by al-Shabab.


207 typhoid cases treated amid heat wave

HARARE — Health authorities say 207 cases of typhoid are being treated in Zimbabwe’s capital after a prolonged spell of unusually hot weather amid acute water shortages.

Harare city council health director Dr. Prosper Chonzi said no deaths have occurred so far in the monthlong outbreak.

He said the disease will be difficult to contain in impoverished townships relying on water from shallow, makeshift wells and marshlands

Some haven’t had access to piped water for months - or even years - amid the country’s economic meltdown.

Dr. Chonzi said humanitarian agencies have been asked to help provide clean water.

A cholera outbreak in 2009 blamed on the collapse of water, sanitation and prevention services in Zimbabwe killed more than 4,000 people.


Oil-rich nation reports more oil finds

MALABO — The government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea said it has discovered more oil offshore and have seen the first production from another offshore block.

Monday’s press release from the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy said the new discoveries offshore Bioko Island should start producing in 2015.

Another Bioko Island site started producing earlier this month and has reached nearly 51,000 barrels per day.

Equatorial Guinea was a backwater until U.S. energy company Exxon Mobil discovered oil and gas in 1994. Most oil from the country, which produces billions of dollars in annual revenue, is exported to the U.S.

But the majority of citizens of the West African nation live below the poverty line, while top officials have grown wealthy.


Militants bash Kenya-Israel pact

MOGADISHU — A spokesman for the Somali militant group al-Shabab said Kenya’s prime minister visited Israel to seek help destroying Muslim people and their religion.

Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage also warned Kenya in a statement Tuesday that it still has a chance to withdraw its forces from Somalia because “things have not begun in earnest,” a possible reference to threats to carry out terror attacks in Nairobi.

The office of Kenya’s prime minister said Monday that Kenya received the backing of Israeli leaders to help Kenya fight what it called fundamentalist elements. Kenya wants help building the capacity of its police.

Kenyan troops last month moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants who in return promised reprisal terror attacks. Kenya’s prime minister visited Israel on Monday.


U.N. envoy seeks help on Somalia

Kenya’s U.N. envoy on Tuesday courted support from Washington for his country’s campaign against Islamist al-Shabab rebels in southern Somalia.

“We would love to see the international community, with the U.S. right up there, engaging in Somalia in ways in which they have not for quite a long time,” Ambassador Macharia Kamau told AFP in an interview.

Kenya deployed tanks and troops to al-Shabab-controlled southern Somalia on Oct. 14 to fight the al Qaeda-linked rebels whom Nairobi blames for kidnapping foreigners and making cross-border raids.

“We would like to see the U.S. and the international community taking advantage of basically what Kenya is doing, which is putting troops on the ground, taking risks that need to be taken to achieve the goals that we all say need to be achieved, which is to bring peace and security to Somalia,” he said.

The ambassador was to meet with Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, who has sounded the alarm over al-Shabab; and Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Keith Ellison, both Minnesota Democrats whose state has a vast Somali-American community that the Islamist group has tapped for recruits.

The diplomat said al-Shabab was training “over 40 known American citizens” in Somalia, warning that there is “a direct line” from the group “right back to American cities” that “poses a clear and present danger for Americans.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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