- - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NAIROBI — At least 48 Kenyans were hacked or burned to death in ethnic clashes between two rival groups, the worst single attack since deadly post-election violence four years ago, police said Wednesday.

“It is a very bad incident. They include 31 women, 11 children and six men,” regional deputy Police Chief Joseph Kitur said of the attack late Tuesday between the Pokomo and Orma peoples in the rural Tana River district.

Chief Kitur said 34 were hacked to death and 14 others were burned to death, while several huts were torched after a gang of men launched the attack.

It was not clear what sparked the attack, the latest in a long history of bitter clashes in the remote area of Kenya, but the two communities have clashed before over the use of land and water resources, although the scale and intensity of the killings shocked police.

The attack happened in the Reketa area of Tarassa in Kenya’s southeast, close to the coast and some 185 miles from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

In 2001, at least 130 people were killed in a string of clashes in the same district and between the same two communities about access to land and a river.

“Clashes over pasture have been recurrent in this region,” said national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe.


Rebels claim 11 soldiers killed in South Kordofan

KHARTOUM — Rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region said Wednesday that they had killed 11 government troops in an ambush in South Kordofan state during the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr, but the army denied any such incident.

The incident took place Monday between El Muglad and the railway town of Babanusa, about 30 miles east of East Darfur state, according to Abdullah Moursal, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction.

In addition to those killed, “we took some of them as prisoners,” he said, adding there were no rebel fatalities.

Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad denied the report. “There were no security disturbances during Ramadan or Eid,” the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month, he told Agence-France Presse.

The Sudan Liberation Army began its rebellion in Sudan’s far-western Darfur region in 2003, when black African tribes rose against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government.

Last year, SLA factions and Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement joined in a Revolutionary Front with insurgents from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North who are fighting in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The front seeks the overthrow of the Khartoum regime, which it sees as unrepresentative of the country’s political, ethnic and religious diversity.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan, which gained its independence a year ago, of backing the rebels, and says security issues must be settled before an Aug. 4 agreement on oil fees can be implemented.

The deal, worth billions of dollars to Khartoum, covers fees due by Juba for shipping its oil through the north’s pipeline for export. In January, the South shut its oil production after accusing the north of theft.

The South Sudanese government in Juba denies backing insurgents north of the border and accuses the north of backing rebels in southern territory.


Countrymen mourn late prime minister

ADDIS ABABA — Thousands of wailing Ethiopians turned out Wednesday to greet the body of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an official national mourning period began after his death in a Brussels hospital.

A military band played as the coffin, draped in the national flag, was taken from an Ethiopian Airlines flight in the early morning, a ceremony also attended by political, military and religious leaders as well as diplomats.

Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, who also has been foreign minister since 2010, will take charge as an interim leader, officials said. He wept as the body was carried to the hearse.

Males, 57, died overnight Monday after a long illness. He had not been seen in public since the G-20 summit in Mexico in June.

His two daughters and widow, Azeb Mesfin, dressed in black, walked ahead of a military band. People carried candles and portraits of Meles, following a convoy of cars accompanying the body.

The coffin was taken to the prime minister’s official residence at the national palace, where Meles’ body will lie in state until the funeral, reported national television, which broadcast live from Addis Ababa streets as the coffin passed slowly.

Several hundred mourners gathered to pay their respects at the palace.


Suspected Ebola outbreak kills at least 10 people

KAMPALA, Uganda — The World Health Organization says an outbreak of suspected Ebola in eastern Congo has infected at least 15 people, 10 of whom died.

WHO said Tuesday that two of the cases are confirmed as Ebola and that the rest are “probable” Ebola.

The outbreak in Congo’s Orientale Province follows one last month in neighboring Uganda that killed 16 people.

Ugandan health officials say the outbreak there is under control, but they have yet to declare the country free of Ebola. It is not clear whether the outbreak in Congo is related to the one in Uganda.

WHO said Congolese health officials are working with Doctors Without Borders and other groups to stem the spread of Ebola.

Ebola is highly infectious and kills quickly.


Farmworker gets life for killing white supremacist

JOHANNESBURG — A black farmworker was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the brutal murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche, a case that has been a source of racial tension in the city of Ventersdorp.

About 100 black protesters sang anti-white songs outside the courtroom in the city just west of Johannesburg to support Chris Mahlangu, 30, who had pleaded guilty but argued that he acted in self-defense in what the judge found was a violent dispute over wages.

The black protesters were opposed by 20 white demonstrators who carried the dummy of a black man with a rope around his neck and a sign that said: “Hang Mahlangu.”

As Mahlangu was leaving the court, the demonstrators tied the effigy to a pick-up truck and drove around the black crowd.

Mahlangu was found guilty of beating Terreblanche, 69, to death with an iron in April 2010. Mahlangu said he feels he did no wrong by ridding the world of a man some called a monster.

The judge had rejected a defense argument that Mahlangu had been sodomized by Terreblanche and acted in self-defense. Mahlangu also claimed that Terreblanche infected him with HIV.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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