Darfur leader killed: army
The army killed a key rebel leader from the Darfur region, state media reported yesterday, three days after anti-government forces said they had begun advancing on the capital Khartoum. “The Sudanese army announce that they killed Khalil Ibrahim in fighting today west of Wadbanda in North Kordofan,” the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said. Ibrahim headed the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the most heavily armed group in the Darfur region. The report could not be independently confirmed. On Saturday SUNA, quoting army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad, said the military was combing the North Kordofan-North Darfur border area after JEM “attacked civilians” and targeted local leaders while looting their property in the Umm-Gozain, Goz Abyadh and Aramal areas. Saad gave no casualty figures. JEM announced on Thursday through its London-based spokesperson that its forces were advancing from Darfur eastward toward the capital Khartoum.
Pianist could avoid jail term
A prosecutor’s office said it might not seek the customary seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for noise pollution for a pianist who practiced at home. The office for the northeastern region of Catalonia said in a statement released late on Friday that it was studying a request for a partial pardon for 26-year-old Laia Martin, a professional musician, given that a “prison sentence could be considered overly stringent.” The office recommended prison earlier in the week after a neighbor claimed noise contamination from Martin’s eight-hour practice sessions had left her with psychological damage.
Thousands attend funerals
Thousands of people on Saturday attended prayers in memory of the 44 people killed by suicide bombers in Damascus as charge and counter-charge swirled over who was behind the attacks. The funeral prayers, at central Omayyad Mosque, came as an Arab League delegation met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to discuss the arrival of a team to oversee a deal aimed at ending nine months of bloodshed. Mourners prayed before flag-draped coffins, while a crowd outside waved portraits of embattled President Bashar al-Assad and banners of the ruling Baath party as police stood watch. Religious Affairs Minister Abdel Sattar al-Sayyed read a statement from Christian and Muslim religious leaders “denouncing the criminal attacks on Friday ... and the murder, destruction and sabotage,” part of a “dangerous plot against Syria.”
Troops fire on protesters
Troops commanded by relatives of outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh have attacked a crowd of more than 100,000 protesters peacefully marching into the capital, killing at least 13 and driving the president to promise to leave the country. Yielding to pressure to defuse the country’s turmoil, Saleh said on Saturday he would leave for the US after forces overseen by his son and nephew opened fire on the protesters. They had marched for four days and 320km on foot to pressure the government not to give Saleh immunity from prosecution, in the first march of its kind in the impoverished nation that is home to a dangerous al-Qaeda offshoot. After protesters arrived at the southern entrances to the capital, forces of the elite Republican Guard fired on them with automatic weapons, tear gas and water cannons, sparking hours of clashes.