WORLD

World NOTES

JOHN NICOL August 17 1998
WORLD

World NOTES

JOHN NICOL August 17 1998

World NOTES

WORLD

UPRISING IN CONGO

Congo President Laurent Kabila’s 14-month-old regime was under siege after Tutsi soldiers rebelled in the eastern part of the country. Kabila threatened war against neighboring Tutsi-run Rwanda, which he accused of aiding rebels who captured key eastern border towns, including Bukavu. The rebellion was eerily similar to the Tutsibased uprising Kabila led in the same region, ultimately overthrowing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who died four months later. Rwanda backed Kabila then, but now says he has downgraded Tutsis in his government and failed to stop anti-Rwanda guerrillas in the border area.

KASHMIR BATTLE

Tension rose between India and Pakistan as they fought a week-long artillery duel that rained mortar rounds on villages on both sides of the disputed Kashmir border, killing 120 people. The two nations, which both tested nuclear bombs in May, have fought two wars over Kashmir. Pakistan’s ambassador to India warned that the conflict was “destabilizing the situation in a nuclear context.”

ANEW IRAQ STANDOFF

Iraq froze co-operation with United Nations weapons inspectors after their chief, Richard Butler, refused to give an immediate certification that Baghdad had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. Butler said he needed more information on Iraq’s biological program, The certification is required before economic sanctions against Iraq can be lifted. The UN Security Council called Iraq’s move “totally unacceptable,” but Secretary General Kofi Annan said the latest crisis could be settled peacefully.

ANTI-GAY ANGLICANS

Led by conservative African and Asian members, Anglican bishops declared homosexuality to be “incompatible with scripture” and said homosexuals should not be ordained as priests. The bishops, meeting in the once-adecade Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, also said sex is only for married couples and called for abstinence by anyone else. Although not binding on national churches, the vote of 526 to 70, with 45 abstentions, avoided a global split in Anglican ranks.

Horror blasts in East Africa

Diplomat David Smart was on the seventh-floor roof of the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, for his morning smoke, looking in the direction of the American embassy 500 m away, when a devastating bomb went off last Friday “It was just baboom, a massive blast, a big column of black smoke, a lot of dust, paper flying around, vehicles all over the place, people running,” the acting high commissioner told Maclean’s.

“It was chaos. We saw a bus that had been scorched. It was pretty depressing—very, very depressing.”

And horrific. The car bomb, which left a huge crater behind the U.S.

Embassy and toppled a nearby four-storey building into it, left at least 132 dead and more than 1,600 injured. Within five minutes, another car bomb went off outside the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where another seven died and 72 were injured. The terror blasts—almost surely co-ordinated— took the lives of eight Americans, and slightly injured U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Prudence Bushnell.

No group stepped forward to claim responsibility, but as FBI agents and U.S. military antiterrorist specialists examined the rubble for clues, American analysts began pointing fingers. Among the candidates were Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident living in Afghanistan

who told a U.S. television crew in June that Americans would be targets of guerrilla attacks. Bin Laden is the U.S. state department’s prime suspect in a 1995 car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that killed five Americans and a 1996 attack on a military housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 U.S. servicemen. Other analysts pointed to the Islamic Jihad, which last week had vowed to retaliate against U.S. help in the extradition of three Jihad members from Albania to Egypt.

State department officials, however, were reluctant to speculate on who was responsible. They ruled out nationals from the two East African nations because of the sophistication of the bombings and the absence of motive; both countries are friendly with the United States.

Smart, who said he could smell cordite in the air, said there were no casualties among the approximately 1,600 Canadian families in Kenya, most of whom are in Nairobi. One Kenyan woman who works at the Canadian High Commission suffered a deep cut in the back of her head from a window that shattered in the blast. Although Kenya has had its troubles, Smart said, for the most part it is “very stable and peace loving. This has wounded them deeply. It’s Kenya that’s in mourning as much as the Americans.”

JOHN NICOL