International News Briefs

Brother of French gunman “proud” of multiple murder

TOULOUSE: The brother of the now-dead French Islamic extremist Mohamed Merah, who gunned down seven people between March 11 and March 19, was recently apprehended by French police. Abdelkader Merah was found with explosive material in his vehicle and stated he was proud of the killings, which took place in three separate incidents in the city of Toulouse, France. Both are considered Islamic extremists by French police and there is evidence of an organizational link to larger terrorist groups. Adelkader Merah is being rigorously questioned by anti-terrorist officials. He will likely face a judge in Paris in the coming days and weeks, the Mail and Guardian reports. Mohamed Merah was killed in a standoff with police on March 19.

Leaders of Mali coup struggle to retain control

BAMAKO: In the impoverished African country of Mali, a democratic government has been replaced, through a coup d’état, by a military junta with tenuous control over the operations of government and the Malian economy. Two weeks ago, coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo ousted elected president Amadou Toumani Touré. Since that time, several nations, including Canada, have either withdrawn aid to the country entirely or have reduced it significantly. Additionally, the junta is comprised of potentially inexperienced young military leaders. According to the New York Times, Mali’s air and land borders have been sealed since last week and, as a result, fuel, food and money is running increasingly low in the country.

Afghan mission “on track” despite killings, controversy, says U.S. general

WASHINGTON: The United States’ top military commander in Afghanistan told Congress that plans to withdraw by 2014 are still on track despite regional volatility and an increasingly war-weary American public. Recent developments, including the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. airbase and the sudden killing of 17 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, have not affected the military’s strategy going forward in terms of withdrawal and other strategic dates, Gen. John Allen told Congress last week. The current American plan is to withdraw 23,000 U.S. troops by September with a complete withdrawal slated for December 2014. Allen would not speculate on the required troop levels over the course of 2013-14.

Turkish forces kill 15 Kurdish women

BITLIS: As part of a large scale Kurdish rebellion led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against the Turkish government, 15 Kurdish women fighters were killed in the southeast province of Bitlis over the weekend. The fighters were one of several women-only units used as part of the resistance. The violence erupted after an offensive launched near the Iraqi border that left seven policemen and six rebels dead. In less than a week, more than 21 Kurdish rebels have been killed, along with eight members of the security forces.

Guatemalan president advocates for drug decriminalization

ANTIGUA: Guatemala president Otto Perez Molina became the first Latin American president to openly advocate for the decriminalization of drugs. Molina, who believes that the war on drugs has failed, made his statements at a Central American summit in the Guatemalan city of Antigua. Central America is a primary transit route for South American cocaine heading north to the United States. The drug trade has destabilized Central America, plaguing countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with corruption and escalating murder rates. American response to Molina’s comments was to hold the line on the necessity of criminalization, adding that discussing the matter is nonetheless important.

Published in Volume 66, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 28, 2012)

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