- - Wednesday, September 5, 2012


LAGOS — Pirates attacked and seized an oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria’s largest city, kidnapping an unknown number of sailors who were trying to hide from their assailants, the country’s navy said Wednesday.

The pirates targeted the MT Abu Dhabi Star, which was anchored 50 miles off the coast of Lagos, the country’s biggest port, said Commodore Kabir Aliyu, a navy spokesman.

The sailors onboard sent distress signals as the pirates boarded the ship Tuesday night, with their last message indicating they had locked themselves inside a panic room on the vessel, Commodore Aliyu said.

The oil tanker, flagged in Singapore, is operated by Pioneer Ship Management Services LLC, a company with offices in Dubai. The company said in a statement that it lost radio contact with the tanker Wednesday.

Pioneer was contacted by the crew onboard the vessel “and can confirm that all crew members are currently reported to be safe and uninjured, but that the vessel has been boarded by suspected pirates,” the statement read.

Pioneer said it had not received any ransom demands. It did not say how many sailors were onboard the vessel, nor did it give their nationalities.


Hundreds flee port after Kenyan shelling

MOGADISHU — Hundreds of residents fled the southern Somali port of Kismayo after the Kenyan navy shelled the town ahead of an expected ground operation to capture it, officials and residents said this week.

Kismayo is the main remaining stronghold of the al Qaeda-linked terrorists of al-Shabab. The group is waging an insurgency against the U.N.-backed Somali government, which is being bolstered by African Union troops, including Kenyan forces.

Residents say the militants have ordered them not leave Kismayo, but the prospect of being caught in a war between the terrorists and the Kenyan forces outweighed whatever brutal punishment they could get for disobeying.

Kenyan military spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna said seven people believed to be members of al-Shabab were killed in shelling Saturday and Monday that targeted an arms cache, a mounted gun position and a militant roadblock.


Sudan, South Sudan resume talks on border, oil, security

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Sudan and South Sudan resumed talks Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital to resolve outstanding disputes over oil, border demarcation, security and the Abyei region, negotiators said.

“Oil and economic-related issues, border issues [and] Abyei, these are the issues that are on the agenda,” South Sudanese Minister for Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor told Agence France-Presse.

Sudan and South Sudan fought along their undemarcated frontier in March and April, sparking fears of a wider war and leading to a U.N. Security Council resolution that ordered a cease-fire.

It also ordered the settlement of unresolved issues under African Union mediation. In early August those talks led to a breakthrough deal on export fees that the landlocked capital of South Sudan, Juba, will pay Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to ship its oil through northern pipelines.


Record number abstain from voting in elections

LUANDA — Forty percent of voters abstained from casting ballots in Angola’s legislative elections, the electoral commission said of a shocking rate for Africa that some blamed on cynicism over the ruling party’s victory after 33 years in power.

Others blamed faulty electoral rolls that included people who died a long time ago.

Eighty-seven percent of voters participated in 2008 elections in the southern African nation where President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ government is accused of corruption and mismanagement of oil and diamond riches. His party is the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.

Lourenco Bento, press officer for the biggest opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, believes the difference between the number of registered voters and the number of people who actually voted is a symptom of faulty rolls and disorganization.

After his victory, Mr. dos Santos, who has never been directly elected in 33 years in power, promised in a televised address Monday to “serve the interests of all Angolans.”

After 2008 legislative elections, Mr. dos Santos, 70, repeatedly postponed presidential elections until the national assembly last year changed the constitution so that the leader of the party with the highest votes becomes the president. The Popular Movement’s victory gives him another five years in power.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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