- - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela spent a 12th day in a South African hospital after being diagnosed with a lung infection and undergoing gallstone surgery.

South Africa’s government has said Mr. Mandela, 94, was admitted Dec. 8 to a hospital in the country’s capital, Pretoria.

Officials said Mr. Mandela underwent an endoscopic surgery to remove gallstones Saturday after doctors treated him for a recurrent lung infection.

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Mr. Mandela required “extraordinary care” because of his age and could spend several more days in the hospital recovering.

Mr. Mandela is revered for being a leader of the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa, serving 27 years in prison for his beliefs. He served one five-year term as president before retiring from public life.


U.N.: 126 rape cases amid Congo fighting

KINSHASA — The United Nations says at least 126 cases of rape took place in eastern Congo last month.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said two Congolese soldiers so far have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Preliminary investigations have accused Congolese army soldiers of committing rapes, looting and other human rights violations in Minova and surrounding villages.

The violence took place in late November after soldiers retreated from the city of Goma after it was captured by the M23 rebels.

Rape has long been used as a brutal weapon of war in eastern Congo, where soldiers and various armed groups use sexual violence to intimidate, punish and control the population.


5 Indian sailors kidnapped off coast

JOHANNESBURG — Gunmen stormed a tanker ship off the coast of Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, ransacking the vessel and kidnapping five Indian sailors in the latest attack targeting foreign workers in the volatile region, a shipping company said Wednesday.

The attack targeted the SP Brussels tanker as it sat about 40 miles off the coast of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, Medallion Marine said in a statement. The gunmen stole personal belongings on the ship in the attack Monday and kidnapped the sailors.

Those remaining onboard later sailed the vessel safely to port in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, the company said.

Nigerian navy officials previously declined to comment about the attack, saying they had no information.

The attack on the tanker came the same day gunmen abducted four South Koreans and a Nigerian working for Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. at a construction site in the Brass area of Bayelsa state.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official has said the victims were preparing the site for workers who would construct factories there.


France: U.N. mulling resolution on Mali

PARIS — France’s defense minister says the U.N. Security Council in coming days will pass a resolution approving a multinational African force to help stabilize troubled Mali.

France-Culture radio quotes Jean-Yves Le Drian as saying the resolution will be adopted before Christmas.

The French and Malian foreign ministers met Monday in Paris in part to discuss the resolution.

Mali is divided between a fragile caretaker government in the south — where a military junta toppled the elected leadership in March — and al Qaeda-linked rebels who control the north.

Former colonial overseer France and other Western nations fear Mali could become a hotbed for terror groups who have seized hostages in West Africa and one day could mastermind attacks in Europe.


Militants publicly rebuke American member

NAIROBI, Kenya — Militants in Somalia are publicly rebuking their best known American fighter.

Al-Shabab posted a statement Monday scolding Omar Shafik Hammami, formerly of Daphne, Ala.

Hammami, who also is known as Abu Mansur al-Amriki, said publicly earlier this year that he fears members of al-Shabab may kill him over differences of opinion.

The new al-Shabab statement says Hammami’s video releases are the result of personal grievances that stem from a “narcissistic pursuit of fame.” The statement said al-Shabab has been speaking to Hammami in private but that those efforts have been “fruitless.”

The statement, which was posted on a Twitter feed used by a member of al-Shabab, said the militant group was morally obligated to out his “obstinacy.”

The FBI placed Hammami on its most wanted terrorist list last month.


U.N. court acquits rebel leader of war crimes

THE HAGUE — The International Criminal Court has acquitted a Congolese militia leader of all charges of commanding fighters who destroyed a village in eastern Congo in 2003, raping and hacking to death some 200 people, including children.

Tuesday’s acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo on charges including rape, murder and pillage is only the second verdict in the court’s 10-year history and the first time it cleared a suspect.

The only other criminal court verdict, handed down earlier this year, convicted another Congolese rebel leader, Thomas Lubanga, of using child soldiers in battles in Ituri. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The court has indicted far more senior suspects than Mr. Ngudjolo, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. Gen. Bashir refuses to surrender to the court, and Mr. Gbagbo is in custody in The Hague awaiting a possible trial.

Tuesday’s verdict also cast a shadow over prosecutors’ efforts to collect and present evidence of atrocities in complex conflicts thousands of miles from the court’s headquarters in The Hague.

Judges said the testimony of three key prosecution witnesses was unreliable and could not prove definitively that Mr. Ngudjolo led the rebel attack on the village of Bogoro, but they emphasized that Mr. Ngudjolo’s acquittal did not mean no crimes occurred in the village.


Prison sentence upheld for gay text message

DOUALA — An appeals court has upheld a three-year sentence against a man found guilty of gay conduct for sending a text message to another man saying: “I’m very much in love with you.”

Activists said the court’s ruling in Yaounde, the capital, on Monday marked yet another setback for gays and lesbians in Cameroon, widely viewed as the most repressive country in Africa when it comes to prosecuting same-sex couples.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, 32, had been provisionally released on bail in July after serving a year and a half in prison. His lawyer has 10 days to file an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

Mbede’s provisional release earlier this year followed pressure from rights activists over his deteriorating health aggravated by malnutrition and repeated assaults.

Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries. Lawmakers in Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda recently have presented legislation that would strengthen anti-gay laws that are on the books.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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