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Published:January 17th, 2008 12:47 EST

World Chronicle: January 17

By Krzys Wasilewski


RABAT, Morocco. The Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday that at least 16 people were killed and 30 wounded in a building collapse in northern Morocco Wednesday. The apartment complex was under construction when its main infrastructure began to crumble. In an official statement issued yesterday, the government expressed its condolences and promised to launch an investigation into the catastrophe.

In Morocco and other emerging countries, the developing industry thrives, but with new buildings fail to bring revised regulations. Bribes are common and companies use cheap materials to save time and money.

CAIRO, Egypt. For thousands of tourists visiting Egypt every year it will always be remembered as the land of camels and ancient pyramids; but, in fact, the reality is gloomier. The Reuters news agency wrote on Thursday about a 70-year-old opposition leader being arrested and, after days of brutal interrogations, left in one of the capital's suburbs. Abdel Wahhab el-Messiri was spotted by the police during an anti-governmental rally commemorating the 1977 protests, when more than 70 people were killed.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution criticizing Egypt for its human rights record. The majority of the present legislators called on Cairo to improve its democratic standards and free political prisoners.


WASHINGTON, DC. U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to his special envoy to Sudan on Thursday, urging the United Nations to improve its efforts in the war-shattered Darfur region. Although, with the beginning of 2008, the U.N. started its peacekeeping mission, neither the number of soldiers nor amount of equipment is adequate to establish security in the territory that spans thousands of miles. Quoted by the Associated Press, Bush said today, “The United Nations considers the Darfur issue a central issue on its agenda.” The American president also added that his country could “help what has been a process, frankly, that has unfolded a little too slow for our liking.” The United Nations rejected the critique.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka. It seems that the Sri Lankan army has gone on the offensive against its nemesis, the Tamil Tiger militia. Quoted by the Agence France-Presse, the defense ministry issued a statement on Thursday that read, “Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets targeted an LTTE (Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam) senior leaders' gathering at Jayapoor in Kilinochchi.” According to a rebel source, however, the governmental forces demolished civilian areas, leaving seven unarmed people with injuries.

The latest tensions between Colombo and the Tamil Tigers bury the 2002 peace agreement. According to the former, more than 400 rebels have been killed this year, compared to 20 casualties on the governmental side.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. At least nine people have lost their lives in a Thursday suicide bomb attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Witnesses say that the perpetrator was a seemingly harmless teenager who detonated the carry-on explosives in a Shiite Muslim shrine. According to local police, the bomber wanted to incite religious hatred in the Pakistani Muslim community since the attack was carried out during the holy period for Shiites.

Rebel groups intensify their attacks as the country is preparing itself for the February 18 parliamentary elections. President Musharraf, supported by the United States, promised to free Pakistan of Islamic extremism.


PRAGUE, Czech Republic. The New York Times informs on Thursday that the United States and the Czech Republic may soon finalize talks on the installation of a missile radar near Prague. The Czech foreign minister told the newspaper, “We hope to conclude the negotiations on the text by the end of spring.”

If the two countries, in fact, sign the agreement, the picturesque Czech landscape will be enhanced with the technologically developed anti-missile radar. The radar Washington plans will be a part of a bigger installation in Central Europe that could protect the United States and its European allies from Iranian-launched nuclear missiles. Despite the green light from Prague, the American project may never materialize, as Poland– where silos with nuclear warheads are to be located– demands the United States contribute more to its defense.


TEHRAN, Iran. One day after U.S. President George W. Bush ended his Middle East trip, Tehran accuses Washington of pursuing an anti-Iranian policy. In an interview given to the Al-Jazeera news channel, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said that his American counterpart was trying to turn the international community against Tehran. The Associated Press quoted Ahmedinejad as saying, “President George Bush sent a message to the Iranian people and all the nations worldwide. This message reflects his own conceptions and it is a message of rift, a message of sowing the seeds of division. It is a message of confrontation demeaning the dignity of mankind.”

Bush used much of his historic visit to the Middle East to criticize Iran and its nuclear ambitions. During his stop in Israel, the American president said that Iran was still a threat to world peace.