Africa Theater

Somalia: US destroyer set to intervene against pirates

A Navy missile destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, has arrived to help end an ongoing standoff between four Somali pirates and their American hostage off the east coast of Somalia. The hostage, the captain of the container ship, the Maersk Alabama, is being held captive in a lifeboat after a hijacking attempt early April 8.

Hundreds flee Somaliland fighting

Hundreds of families in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland have fled inter-clan fighting in the mid-west Satiile area in Gabiley region, local officials report. The fighting, the second flare-up in three months, started on 7 April after a group of men drove into Satiile settlement area and shot dead a local farmer and wounded his brother.

Black Mauritanians: compensation not enough

Twenty years after a military regime killed hundreds of mostly black Mauritanians, another military government is promising to compensate their families. While some victims' associations welcome reparations, other affected families and many NGOs say compensation equals impunity for those who ordered the killings—and remain in power.

Did Israel bomb Sudan?

An airstrike that targeted a convoy of arm smugglers inside Sudan in January was launched by Israeli warplanes and not US ones, according to growing reports. On March 25, a Sudanese government official said that a "major power bombed small trucks carrying arms" northwest of Port Sudan city killing Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians. But CBS News quoted unidentified US officials denying involvement in the operation—and saying "Israeli aircraft carried out the attack."

Bin Laden calls for overthrow of Somalia's new president —despite sharia rule

In a new audio statement posted on the Internet, Osama bin Laden called on Somali militants to overthrow the country's new President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed—himself a former leader of the Islamic Courts Union. In the 12-minute tape, which could not be immediately verified, bin Laden said: "This Sheik Sharif...must be fought and toppled... He is like the [Arab] presidents who are in the pay of our enemies." (News Hour, March 19)

Israel: Eritrea destabilizes Horn of Africa

Israel's ambassador to Ethiopia, Oded Ben-Haim, in an interview with Ethiopia's Walta Information Center, charged that Eritrea is trying to destabilize the peace process in the Horn of Africa, and serving as a save haven for terrorist groups. Ben-Haim especially accused Eritrea of supporting and arming al-Shabab, the insurgent group in Somalia, and also asserted Eritrean ties to the Palestinian Hamas. He called upon Ethiopia to "continue bringing stability in the Horn of Africa and to the whole continent." (WIC, March 19)

Madagascar: coup d'etat or revolution?

Rejecting President Marc Ravalomanana's proposal for a referendum to end Madagascar's violent political crisis, opposition leader Andry Rajoelina instead called for his arrest March 16. As explosions were heard in the capital Antananarivo, the military intervened, seizing key government buildings. The military passed power to Rajoelina, a former mayor of Antananarivo who led weeks of angry protests demanding Ravalomanana's ouster.

Mauritania crisis mediation fails; still no justice for enslaved Blacks

Political parties in Mauritania have to sign a framework agreement for peace, after Libya's leader and African Union chairman Moammar Qaddafi was accused of bias in his attempts at mediation. Opposition politicians walked out on a speech to parliament by Qaddafi, March 11, saying that he was siding with the military rulers who seized power in a coup last year.

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