Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2003

Briefly

July 24, 2003

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Canada

Ambassador to Iran called home

Canada recalled its ambassador to Iran Wednesday after the body of a slain Montreal journalist was buried in Iran despite demands that it be returned to her son in Canada.

Zahra Kazemi, 54, who held dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, was buried Wednesday in Shiraz, Iran, 12 days after she died from injuries suffered inside an Iranian jail. She was arrested June 23 while taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during a student protest.

Iranian officials said in an official report that Kazemi died of a fractured skull suffered during 77 hours of interrogation. The report by an Iranian presidential committee disputed earlier assertions by government officials that Kazemi had died of a stroke.

Kazemi's death has caused serious tensions between Canada and Iran. Hundreds of people have taken part in rallies in Toronto to protest her death and denounce torture in Iranian prisons.

Canadian officials became angrier after they learned Wednesday that Kazemi had been buried in her hometown despite the wishes of her son, Stephan Hachemi, that her body be returned to Montreal where she lived.

Cameroon

Landslides destroy homes, kill at least 21

Water-logged hillsides gave way after a week of heavy rain in southwest Cameroon, killing at least 21 people, authorities said Wednesday.

The landslides occurred Monday in Wabane district. The remoteness of the area delayed news of the deaths and hampered efforts to send aid.

The landslides brought mud and debris from several hills down on 15 homes, burying them a regional official, Thomas Ejake, said by telephone.

Seven of the 21 dead came from a single family, Ejake said. At least three survivors were being treated at a local hospital. The slides left about 100 people homeless.

Solomon Islands

Foreign troops arrive to quell violence

An Australian-led international force began pouring today into this South Pacific island nation on planes and ships to help restore order in a nation spiraling toward anarchy.

The near-bankrupt Solomon Islands government issued an appeal earlier this month to its South Pacific neighbors for help against armed militants and criminals who extort money, take hostages and kill at will.

The deployment of the 2,000 troops and 300 police from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga is the largest military operation in the tropical region since World War II.

The parliament in Honiara unanimously supported the deployment to fight the militants and gangs who have flourished in recent years following a drawn-out conflict between rival islanders that left hundreds dead.

Paris

Eiffel Tower reopens after electrical fire

Tourists poured back into the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday, a day after an electrical fire -- possibly fueled by wet paint -- sent smoke wafting from the Paris landmark and thousands of people scurrying for exits.

Tower executives played down the Tuesday evening incident, saying a temporary shutdown and evacuation were necessary after the fire erupted in sealed-off telecommunications room on the third floor, the highest level accessible to visitors.

By Wednesday morning, the tower was open again for business. Workers cleaned up charred debris even as visitors flooded back.

The fire, which erupted in a knot of cables below the tower's broadcast antenna, damaged an area of about 6 square feet, Bros said. Blackened, chipped paint and a jumble of charred cables were the main signs of damage.

Sao Tome and Principe

Coup ends with deal that restores president

The president of Sao Tome and Principe returned to this West African island nation Wednesday under a deal that grants amnesty to the military forces who ousted him in a bloodless coup last week.

President Fradique de Menezes hugged members of his Cabinet as he returned to his country accompanied by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose nation has an arrangement to share huge offshore oil reserves with Sao Tome.

The deal, negotiated between the coup leaders and international envoys, calls for the formation of a new government -- with Menezes remaining president.

It also includes guarantees that Menezes, who has fired four prime ministers and dissolved parliament once since his five-year term began in September 2001, will respect his nation's separation of powers.

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