Explosions wound 10
Police say suspected insurgents detonated two bombs that wounded 10 people and staged a series of minor attacks in nearly 30 spots in the country’s violence-plagued south. Police Colonel Tongsuk Jaranpong says the militants set off an improvised bomb in a garbage can in the city of Pattani on Saturday night. The explosion slightly wounded three police officers who had been called to inspect a suspicious item. Tongsuk says seven civilian security officers suffered minor injuries in another explosion in Pattani on Saturday while traveling in a pickup truck. He said yesterday that the insurgents also burned tires and set buildings on fire in 29 different locations across Pattani Province. More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand’s southernmost provinces since an Islamist insurgency erupted in 2004.
Leaders sign DRC deal
A UN-mediated peace deal aimed at ending two decades of conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) was signed yesterday by leaders of Africa’s Great Lakes region in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. African leaders failed to sign the deal last month after a disagreement over who would command a new regional force that will be deployed in eastern DR Congo and take on armed groups operating in the region. The DR Congo’s army is fighting the M23 rebels, who have hived off a fiefdom in eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu Province in a conflict that has displaced an estimated half a million people. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders from Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, the DR Congo, Republic of the Congo and South Sudan were present at the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes.
Cypriots vote in runoff
Cypriots voted yesterday in a runoff to elect a president who must clinch a bailout deal before the island nation plunges into a financial meltdown that would revive the eurozone debt crisis. Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades, who favors hammering out a quick deal with foreign lenders, is tipped to win against Communist-backed rival Stavros Malas, who is more wary of the austerity terms accompanying any rescue. Financial markets are hoping for an Anastasiades victory to speed up a joint rescue by the EU and IMF before the island runs out of cash and derails fragile confidence returning to the eurozone. The 66-year-old lawyer took more than 45 percent of the vote in the first round in the Greek-speaking Cypriot south, easily beating 45-year-old geneticist Malas, who took 27 percent.
Talabani condition improves
A doctor who oversees Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s medical care says the president is able to speak and understand people around him as he recovers from a stroke he suffered over two months ago. In an interview yesterday, doctor Najmaldin Karim described the improvement in the president’s health as encouraging and “a good development.” Karim oversees Talabani’s medical care when he is in Iraq, although the president is currently in Germany for treatment. Karim says he is hopeful Talabani will be able to return to Iraq, but acknowledged that any decision rests with the doctors treating him in Germany.