World Digest: Jan. 2, 2014

January 2
RWANDA
Leader accused in death of ex-spy chief

The suspicious death of Rwanda’s former spy chief in a plush Johannesburg hotel was on Thursday reviving allegations that Western-backed President Paul Kagame is orchestrating a campaign to kill opponents at home and abroad.

South African police opened a murder probe after former colonel Patrick Karegeya’s body was discovered on New Year’s Day.

“He was found in the hotel room dead on the bed,” a police spokeswoman said. “A towel with blood and a rope were found in the hotel room safe. There is a possibility that he might have been strangled.”

Rwandan opposition leader Theogene Rudasingwa identified the hotel as the Michelangelo Towers and called the death an assassination that fit a pattern of attacks against Kagame foes. “By killing its opponents, the criminal regime in Kigali seeks to intimidate and silence the Rwandan people into submission,” he said in a statement.

Karegeya, 53, was a wartime ally from Kagame’s days as a rebel leader but later parted ways with the president and reportedly fled to South Africa in 2007. Karegeya said a month ago that his work with the opposition was risky and could cost him his life.

Rwanda’s government strongly denies targeting dissidents.

— Associated Press

CANADA
Toronto mayor files to run for reelection

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has put his name on the ballot to run for another term, defying repeated calls for him to step down after admitting that he smoked crack “in a drunken stupor.”

Ford was the first candidate to show up at City Hall when registration opened Thursday for the city’s municipal election Oct. 27. He promised “Ford more years,” the Toronto Star reported. He also called himself “the best mayor this city has ever had.”

The Toronto City Council has stripped Ford of most of his powers, but he continues to receive support from some in the city’s more conservative suburbs. He first won as mayor by promising to “stop the gravy train” of government spending.

— Associated Press

2 foreigners found dead in Libya; Americans reported detained: A Briton and a New Zealander, both with gunshot wounds, were found dead near the coastal area of Mellitah, in western Libya, security officials said Thursday, without providing further details. In a separate incident, two American basketball players were arrested on the campus of Benghazi University and were being held by the Libyan army at its headquarters in the eastern city, several security and army officials told the Reuters news service.

China denounces U.S. over Uighur inmates’ transfer: China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the United States for sending the last three Uighur Chinese inmates at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison to Slovakia, saying they are “terrorists” who pose a real security danger. Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim people from the far western Chinese region of Xin­jiang. “China hopes that the relevant country . . . does not give asylum to terrorists, and sends them back to China as soon as possible,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Pope draws record crowds to Vatican in 2013: Pope Francis drew more than 6.6 million people to his audiences, Masses and other Vatican events in 2013, more than twice as many as predecessor Benedict XVI did in his first year as pope, the Vatican said. The statistics cover only events held at the Vatican starting from Francis’s March 13 election and do not include his trips, including World Youth Day in Brazil, which drew huge crowds.

Congolese commander killed in east: The Congolese commander in charge of military operations in the country’s troubled east was killed in an ambush near the town of Beni, where the army is trying to flush out the Ugandan rebel group ADF-NALU, which has led gruesome killings in the area. Col. Mamadou Ndala was traveling in a convoy when a rocket exploded close to his car and the convoy came under heavy machine-gun fire for several minutes.

Chinese balloonist crashes en route to disputed isle: A Chinese cook who crashed into the sea while trying to fly on a hot-air balloon to islands claimed by both China and Japan was rescued by Japan’s coast guard. Xu Shuaijun, 35, crashed Wednesday after hitting turbulence as he approached the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diayou, the coast guard said.

Italian navy rescues migrants at sea: The Italian navy rescued 233 migrants from a 33-foot smugglers’ boat in rough seas south of Sicily. The navy said one of its frigates was bringing the migrants — who were from Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia and Mali — into a Sicilian port.

Bus plummets into ravine in India, killing 30: A bus plunged into a 400-foot-deep gorge in western India, splitting open on the rocky ground and killing at least 30 people, police said. The driver lost control of the bus after it collided with a truck on a road near Malshej Ghat, a hilly tourist spot about 100 miles northeast of Mumbai.

— From news services

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