C AFRICAN REPUBLIC
French and African soldiers serving in the country are “overwhelmed” by the “state of anarchy” there, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday, a day after Chadian troops began withdrawing from the peacekeeping mission. The UN Security Council is due this week to approve a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force for the former French colony. The force will take over authority from African Union troops in an attempt to restore order. However, that force is not expected to arrive until September, stoking fears of a security vacuum as the interim government struggles to control intercommunal violence that has killed more than 2,000 people since December last year. During a brief visit on his way to Rwanda, Ban appealed for more help and said the international community was at risk of repeating the mistakes of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Officials upbeat on talks
The government on Saturday said it had useful expert-level nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna, addressing all major technical issues in the way of a final settlement. “The meetings were useful, raised mutual insight into our differing positions,” negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad told the official IRNA news agency at the end of the three-day talks in Vienna. “Everyone came well-prepared ... addressing issues in minute technical details can facilitate hard political decisions.”
Security forces kill refugee
At least one Syrian refugee was killed in the sprawling Zaatari camp when hundreds of refugees clashed with security forces, residents said on Saturday. They said scores of refugees in the sprawling camp close to the Syrian border were injured as baton-wielding anti-riot police used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing refugees who set fire to official offices and caravans. Police blamed agitators who were apprehended after trying to flee the refugee camp of nearly 70,000 residents. Authorities said at least 22 anti-riot police were hospitalized for treatment, but denied any deaths occurred. Residents say the rioting, the first such serious disturbance this year, was provoked when a security officer ran over with his car and seriously injured a four-year old Syrian child, prompting outrage by residents and relatives protesting ill treatment.
Western priests, nun seized
Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun were kidnapped in the north overnight, a bishop and a government source said on Saturday, months after a French priest was seized nearby. Residents said that a group of armed men on motorcycles arrived at the homes of the group and smashed open windows just after midnight before fleeing in a stolen jeep. It was not immediately clear who took them, though Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram is known to operate in the area. “Doors were broken towards midnight by unknown people and the religious were taken away. We do not know where they are. The act is not yet claimed but we imagine who is behind this kidnapping,” said Bishop Phillippe Stevens, from the parish of Maroua, where the kidnapping took place. He named the priests as Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri, both missionaries sent out by the diocese of Vicenza in northeast Italy, and the nun as Gilberte Bissiere. Local governor Augustine Fonka Awa said that Bissiere was in her 70s and ill and had intended to return to Canada when she was seized.