Friday, March 23, 2007


Toll rises to 93 in arms depot blast

MAPUTO — The death toll from an explosion at a weapons depot in a densely populated neighborhood of the capital rose to 93 yesterday and could climb higher, the health minister said. At least 300 were injured by the blast.

Health Minister Ivo Garrido said the casualties included military personnel working at the site and civilians — many of them children — living in a poor neighborhood nearby in the capital.

Thousands of people spent the night on the streets, forced out of their homes by Thursday’s explosion, which detonated rockets that rained down on residential areas.

The Defense Ministry said hot weather may have been to blame for the blast at the badly maintained depot, built by the Soviet Union in 1984. The southern part of Mozambique, which includes Maputo, is suffering a heat wave and drought.


Treasury to aid in fund release

The Bush administration said yesterday it is dispatching a Treasury Department official to Beijing to help authorities move ahead on the release of $25 million in frozen North Korean funds.

The frozen funds led to the breakdown of fresh talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, will lead a delegation to China today “to offer assistance” to authorities in Macao and China dealing with the frozen money held at Banco Delta Asia, a bank in the Chinese territory of Macao.

North Korea has refused to participate in the six-party talks until its funds are released.


Table of drugs ranks danger

LONDON — Alcohol is nearly as harmful as heroin and tobacco is more dangerous than cannabis, LSD or Ecstasy, according to a new classification table of drugs published in the Lancet medical journal yesterday.

The table, drawn up by a group of leading British scientists, ranked heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone as the most harmful drugs, closely followed by alcohol in fifth place.

Tobacco was assessed to be the ninth most dangerous drug behind ketamine — commonly used as a horse tranquilizer — benzodiazepines, which are prescription tranquillizers, and amphetamines.

Cannabis was said to be the 11th most harmful. LSD was ranked 14th and so-called “clubbers’ drug” Ecstasy ranked 18th place.


Match-fixing probed in coach’s slaying

KINGSTON — Cricket’s international governing body said yesterday it would investigate whether match-fixing was a motive for the slaying of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who was strangled after his team was upset by Ireland.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields said police thought more than one person may have killed Mr. Woolmer, 58, in his 12th-floor hotel room Sunday. His team’s humiliating defeat Saturday assured Pakistan’s elimination from the cricket World Cup.

After days of speculation that Mr. Woolmer may have died of natural causes or even committed suicide, Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas confirmed Thursday evening that the pathologist had declared the cause of death as “asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation.”


Journalists warned on covering unrest

JOHANNESBURG — The Zimbabwean government warned foreign and local correspondents yesterday about their coverage of unrest in the country, threatening action against Zimbabwean journalists and singling out CNN for what it called biased reporting.

The government said foreign reporters should be aware of authorities and “stay away from the security forces,” according to reports on state radio and television and in the Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece.

The Zimbabwean press criticized CNN — which is already banned from the country — for its reporting on the purported assault and torture this month of opposition leaders including Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change.


Barghouti’s son released on bail

QALANDIYA, West Bank — Israel released on bail yesterday the jailed son of Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, who is himself serving a life prison sentence.

Qassam Barghouti, a student, was arrested in late 2003 after crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank. Israeli security officials accused him of complicity in Palestinian militant attacks, a charge his attorney denied.

An Israeli military spokesman said Barghouti, 22, was freed after being convicted of membership of an outlawed group and serving out his sentence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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