March 6, 2008

'Merchant of Death' arrested in Thailand

The arms dealer that is thought to have supplied Al Qaeda and current African civil wars with ammunitions was arrested in Bangkok on Thursday, reported the New York Times.

U.S. D.E.A. agents concluded a years-long investigation that spanned the globe on with Victor Bout's arrest. Agents posed as FARC rebels looking to buy weapons in order to secure enough information for Bout's arrest.

Bout, 41, is a Russian arms dealer who formerly served in the Soviet Air Force. His notorious reputation is based on United Nations intelligence citing him as the leader of the largest arms-smuggling operations in the world.

"Today’s arrest marks the culmination of a long term D.E.A. undercover investigation that spanned the globe," Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York said. "It marks the end of the reign of one of the world’s most wanted arms traffickers."

The BBC reported Thursday that Bout was dubbed the "merchant of death" for allegedly supplying warring parties in Angola and Sierra Leone, and is believed to have inspired Nicolas Cage's character in the 2005 film Lord of War.

March 2, 2008

Tense relations in South America after FARC rebel's death

The death of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia commander this week has escalated regional discord.

Columbia's Defense Ministry announced Saturday that Raúl Reyes, a senior commander of the rebel group FARC, was killed in combat on the Columbia-Ecuador borderreported the New York Times.

Venezuela has closed it's Columbian embassy and President Hugo Chavez is sending tanks and troops to the border with Columbia. Ecuador has called it's ambassador back from Coumbia's capital city Bogotá.

“This is the most important strike yet delivered against this terrorist group,? Columbian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said to reporters at a news conference in Bogotá.

February 25, 2008

Kenya talks stall

Opposition leader Raila Odinga walked out of talks on Thursday meant to reach a power-sharing agreement with new president Mwai Kibaki, the BBC reported Monday.

Kofi Annan stepped in to mediate talks between the new government and the opposition party but Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement Party are threatening to instigate mass protests if a deal is not reached.

"On many of the issues that are outstanding, we are unable to agree," a spokesman for the ODM told the BBC. Odinga and the ODM insist that the presidency was stolen from him in December elections by rival Kibaki.

The proposed agreement introduces a new position of prime minister for Odinga but the specifics are not know.

Since the political upheaval began, the BBC reports that "police have increased their estimate of the death toll... and now say at least 1,500 have died. Another 300,000 others were displaced in the violence following the 27 December poll."

February 8, 2008

Chadians under curfew after violence

Chad was placed under a curfew Thursday after rebel attacks that killed at least 100, reported the BBC.

The government-imposed curfew is for the capital, Ndjamena, and six provinces in the east and south.

Despite fears of more rebel attacks, life began to return to normal on Thursday, reported the New York Times, after an attempted coup and subsequent violence last weekend.

Tens of thousands of Darfur refugees and Chadians displaced by the violence remain in need of supplies and medicine.

January 30, 2008

Kenya continues to spiral out of control

Melitus Mugabe Were, a prominent Kenyan Parliament member who had been attempting to organize a peace march, was shot to death on Tuesday by unknown assailants reports the BBC.

The situation intensified Wednesday when police shot tear gas canisters into the parliament member's compound where supporters had congregated to mourn his death. The police allegedly fired the irritant to subdue a group of about 50 young people who had assembled road blocks of burning tires and stone barricades, but television footage shows the police firing the gas directly into the crowd of mourners at the compound the BBC reported later.

Since Were had been working against the politics of President Mwai Kibaki, the anger of his mourners was directed at the president and his police.

Whether or not the member of parliament's death was motivated by political factors is unknown, but
the BBC reported that "Someone had to be responsible. The possibility that the killing was a non-political crime could not be broached."

Were was "a moderate opposition politician, a self-made businessman who grew up in a slum, and he bridged the ethnic divide... as Kenya slid into chaos... he shuttled between different communities and tried to organize a peace march..." reports the New York Times.