Britain to hand over security in south Iraq by mid-December
BAGHDAD -- Britain's defense secretary, Des Browne, said yesterday that his government intends to hand over security for southern Iraq by mid-December. While he acknowledged that sectarian power struggles and gangsterism continue in oil-rich Basra province, Browne said he has seen evidence that Iraqi security forces are improving in their response to the infighting and violence.
Also yesterday, Iraq's foreign minister said the country was holding indirect talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, that soon would lead to the release of several Turkish soldiers captured in recent border clashes with Iraq's northern neighbor.
Los Angeles Times
Mauritanians held for child slavery
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- Two Mauritanians have been arrested for allegedly forcing two children to work as slaves, authorities said yesterday. The mother of the children - a 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy - said she had been seeking their release since she fled captivity more than 10 years ago. Authorities said Mohamed Ould Nobi, 51, and his 85-year-old mother, Marieme Mint Kneiba, were the first suspects to be arrested on such charges in Mauritania. Slavery has been banned since 1981, but punishments of up to 10 years in prison and fines were established only in August.
U.S. sailors aid N. Korea-flagged ship
NAIROBI, Kenya --U.S. sailors boarded a North Korean-flagged vessel to help crew members wounded in a battle with pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said yesterday. American ships were also tracking a hijacked Japanese tanker in Somali waters after sinking two pirate skiffs tied to it. The Navy medics treated three pirates and three Korean sailors for gunshot wounds. Another pirate was dead. The pirates remained detained on the Korean vessel. A helicopter had flown from the destroyer USS James E. Williams on Tuesday to investigate a tip of a hijacked ship and demanded by radio that the pirates give up their weapons, the military said. The crew of the Dai Hong Dan then overwhelmed the hijackers. The ship had departed from Mogadishu, where it made a delivery of sugar.
Paraguay court clears way for Oviedo to run
ASUNCION, Paraguay --Paraguay's Supreme Court has annulled the mutiny conviction of former army Gen. Lino Cesar Oviedo, clearing the way for him to compete in April's presidential election. The court gave no explanation for its ruling, which, unusually, was released late at night Tuesday. Oviedo had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for mutiny after he disobeyed a presidential order to surrender command of the army in April 1996 and holed up in a barracks with supporters, sparking fears of a coup. He denies he planned to topple the government. Oviedo was released from prison Sept. 5 and immediately began laying plans to seek the presidency. But opponents argued his conviction made him ineligible to run.
Bomb blast on Russian bus kills 8
MOSCOW --A bomb shredded a passenger bus yesterday, killing eight people and injuring more than 60 in a central Russian city known for gang violence. One official speculated the blast in Togliatti was a terrorist attack, but others said that was only one possibility. They said investigators were also looking into whether it resulted from a turf battle between criminals or even the careless handling of explosives. Police also weren't immediately sure whether the bomb was hidden inside or beneath the bus or carried on by a passenger, officials said. Togliatti is headquarters to Russia's largest carmaker, AvtoVAZ.
1 killed in attack on Nigerian navy vessel
YENAGOA, Nigeria --Gunmen in speedboats attacked a Nigerian navy vessel yesterday on the oil-rich Niger Delta coast, killing one officer and wounding several others, officials said. The navy vessel was attacked overnight, said Lt. Col. Christopher Musa, a commander of the military force charged with security in region. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta had claimed responsibility for two recent attacks.
From wire reports