World Digest

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Yemeni Detainee Dies In Apparent Suicide

A Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay has died of an apparent suicide, U.S. military officials announced Tuesday.

The Joint Task Force that runs the U.S. prison in Cuba said guards found Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih unresponsive and not breathing in his cell Monday night.

His is the fifth apparent suicide at the Guantanamo prison, and the first in two years. President Obama plans to close the facility by January.

The Yemeni prisoner, also known as Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al-Hanashi, had been held without charge at Guantanamo since February 2002. Military records show that the alleged Taliban fighter was about 31.

Medical records previously released by the military showed that the prisoner's weight had dropped to about 86 pounds in December 2005 -- an indication that he may have joined a long-running hunger strike among prisoners. He weighed 124 pounds when he was taken to Guantanamo. Military officials have not said whether he was on a hunger strike.

A prison spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, declined to discuss how the Yemeni man apparently committed suicide, or whether procedures have changed at the prison as a result of the apparent suicide.

-- Associated Press


Man Gets Life Term In Briton's Killing

An Iraqi man was convicted in the 2004 kidnapping and slaying of British aid worker Margaret Hassan and was sentenced to life in prison. Hassan, 59, was one of the highest-profile figures to fall victim to the wave of kidnappings that swept the country as the insurgency was gaining traction.

Shortly after her abduction, a terrified Hassan was shown on a video pleading for her life and calling on then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq. She was killed a month later.

The presiding judge handed down the sentence against Ali Lutfi al-Rawi after a one-day trial in a Baghdad court.

-- Associated Press


WHO 'Getting Closer' To Declaring Pandemic

The World Health Organization said it is "getting closer" to declaring a global outbreak of the swine flu virus as the infection appears to be taking hold outside North America.

WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the disease has reached 64 countries and infected 18,965 people, causing 117 deaths.

The overwhelming majority of cases and deaths have been reported in Mexico and the United States, but the virus is increasingly spreading from person to person in countries as far apart as Britain, Spain, Japan, Chile and Australia.

-- Associated Press


Rebels Attack Bus

Rebels opened fire on a bus and killed one passenger in southeastern Iran, where police said they had arrested dozens of people after unrest there killed more than 30 in the past week.

The renewed violence occurred ahead of a June 12 presidential election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who often rails against foreign threats to Iran's security, is pitted against moderates seeking detente with the West.

-- Reuters


Senior Official to Quit

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith plans to quit her post, becoming the highest-profile victim of a scandal over lawmakers' expenses, Britain's media reported.

The BBC and Sky News reported that Smith will resign her post -- one of the most senior jobs in Britain's government -- after criticism over her use of taxpayer money. The Home Office, which she runs, manages immigration, counterterrorism, policing and anti-drug efforts.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office declined to comment on the reports. Smith's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

-- Associated Press


Refugee Crisis Cited

Zimbabwe's collapse has spilled over the border with devastating effect, an international medical aid group said, calling on the South African government and the international community to do more to ensure desperate migrants are safe and have shelter and health care.

"It's a major humanitarian crisis . . . here on this side of the border," Eric Goemaere, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in South Africa, told reporters.

Goemaere said the group was speaking out for fear that Zimbabwe's troubles and their regional ramifications were being forgotten. He said there was a mistaken impression that the formation of a unity government in February meant Zimbabwe's crisis was over.

-- Associated Press

Thousands Flee Clashes in Somali Slum: Heavy fighting erupted in a densely packed slum area of Somalia's capital, killing several people and sending thousands fleeing as a leading aid agency warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

China Warns on Climate-Change Demands: China promised to step up efforts to fight climate change and cautioned that "unfair" new demands by rich nations could sabotage a U.N. treaty due to be adopted in December.

-- From News Services

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