Strauss-Kahn blames Sarkozy
Former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Friday accused his political enemies linked to President Nicolas Sarkozy of destroying his bid for the presidency. Strauss-Kahn told the Guardian that his highly public fall from grace was orchestrated by his opponents to prevent him from standing as the Socialist candidate in the French election that culminates next week. Strauss-Kahn had been favored to win the presidential election until May last year, when he was arrested in New York and accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo. Strauss-Kahn said that although he did not believe the incident with Diallo was a setup, the subsequent escalation of the event into a criminal investigation was “shaped by those with a political agenda.” Strauss-Kahn accuses the agents of intercepting telephone calls and ensuring that Diallo went to the police in New York to make her accusations. He believes he was under surveillance in the days before the encounter.
Protesters clash with police
Protesters trying to march to the heart of the capital clashed with riot police on Friday, witnesses said, hours after a massive show of force by the mainstream Shiite Muslim opposition. They said dozens of youths threw stones at police who used teargas and stun grenades to block the planned march to the Pearl roundabout, the center of an uprising last year that the government suppressed with the help of troops from neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Man arrested after siege
Police arrested a man who witnesses said had threatened to blow himself up in an office building in central London, forcing a busy shopping street to be sealed off in a three-hour standoff on Friday. Police had placed a 300m cordon around a building on Tottenham Court Road and sent armed officers to the scene after the man started throwing computer monitors from a window on the fifth floor. Witnesses had reported the 48-year-old man had strapped gas cylinders to his body and had taken four men hostage. Hundreds of local office workers watched throughout the siege from behind the cordon as monitors, papers and reportedly a filing cabinet were hurled intermittently from the window.
Militia leaves Timbuktu
An Arab militia has pulled out of the desert city of Timbuktu, hours after entering the town, amid power struggles in the lawless region more than a month after a coup shook the country. A vast area about the size of France has been contested by Tuareg separatists, Islamic extremists and other irregular forces in the power vacuum that followed a March 22 putsch in the capital in Mali’s south. A new group — the National Liberation Front of Azawad (FNLA) — rolled into the fabled Sahara city of Timbuktu on Friday with about 100 vehicles packed with men described as “armed to the teeth” by a security source. The group has declared it opposes both the secession of northern Mali — as demanded by the Tuareg nomads — and the imposition of strict Islamic law. However, the FNLA later said that militant group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had demanded they leave town. Abdelhamid “Abu Zeid, the leader of AQIM himself, asked us to leave our positions in Timbuktu. To avoid a bloodbath whose main victims would be civilians, we left the city,” FNLA leader Ahmed Ould Cherif said.