- - Sunday, July 29, 2012

PARIS — Ivory Coast’s president said military intervention in Mali is “inevitable” within weeks, if there’s no quick change in the West African country where Islamist extremists rule the north.

Alassane Ouattara said in an interview published Sunday in the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche the intervention force would likely include soldiers from Niger, Nigeria and perhaps countries such as Chad • with logistical help from France and the United States.

He defined logistical help as material support and counselors but added that combat aircraft are needed.

Mr. Ouattara heads the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which secured Mali’s consent for an intervention at a meeting last week in Ivory Coast.

The proposal for a 3,000-member force still needs approval from the U.N. Security Council, which France leads starting Wednesday.


Typhoon-fueled floods killed 88 this month

SEOUL —North Korea says that heavy rain caused by a typhoon has killed nearly 90 people, destroyed thousands of homes and submerged a large amount of farmland.

Seoul-based analyst Kwon Tae-jin said the flooding is expected to worsen North Korea’s chronic food shortage because it comes soon after a severe drought.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that rain over the past month killed 88 people and left more than 60,000 homeless.

It said about 11,860 acres of cropland were washed away and 63,500 acres submerged.

The U.N. said last month that two-thirds of North Korea’s 24 million people face chronic food shortages.


Iranian officials urge baby boom

TEHRAN — Iran’s new message to parents: Get busy and have babies.

In a major reversal of once far-reaching family planning policies, authorities are slashing birth-control programs in an attempt to avoid an aging demographic similar to many Western countries that are struggling to keep up with state medical and social security costs.

The changes — announced in Iranian media last week — came after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the country’s wide-ranging contraceptive services as “wrong.”

The independent Shargh newspaper quoted Mohammad Esmail Motlaq, a Health Ministry official, as saying family planning programs have been cut from the budget for the current Iranian year, which began in March.

It’s still unclear, however, whether the high-level appeals for bigger families will translate into a new population spike. Iran’s economy is stumbling under a combination of international sanctions, inflation and double-digit unemployment.

Many young people, particularly in Tehran and other large cities, are postponing marriage or keeping their families small because of the uncertainties.


Dissident’s widow rejects death report

HAVANA — The widow of leading Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya has rejected a government report that blamed the car crash that killed her husband on the driver, saying she had been denied access to information.

Ofelia Acevedo criticized officials for not allowing her to talk to the survivors, Spanish driver Angel Carromero and Swedish political activist Jens Aron Modig, who have been kept in custody since the July 22 incident.

“I reject this report because it is the official report of the government of Cuba and because I have not had access to this information that they say they have,” she told Agence France-Presse. “I have no reason at all to believe this version of events.”

The government insists Mr. Paya, 60, a leading opponent of the one-party rule of the Cuban Communist Party, was killed when Mr. Carromero lost control and the rental car struck a tree.


7 police officers killed in attacks

BAGHDAD — Two bombings and a drive-by shooting Sunday killed seven Iraqi police officers in a former al Qaeda stronghold in the western part of the country, authorities said, another sign of the militants’ resurgence.

The attacks before dawn around the city of Fallujah also wounded nine police officers. They come a week after the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq announced a deadly campaign to reclaim parts of the country that the Sunni insurgency was forced to leave before the U.S. military pulled out in December.

After the attacks Sunday, security forces sealed off all roads leading to Fallujah and imposed a curfew on the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Officials said two explosives-packed cars blew up within a few minutes of each other in Fallujah and the nearby village of Karma as security patrols drove by, killing three policemen. Fifteen minutes later, a gang of gunmen fired on a Karma police station, killing four. The gunmen escaped.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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