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Published:January 18th, 2008 12:06 EST
World Chronicle: January 18

World Chronicle: January 18

By Krzys Wasilewski

AFRICA

MOGADISHU, Somalia. The assassination of two Ethiopian soldiers patrolling the streets of Mogadishu Wednesday sparked heavy fighting in this war-torn capital, leading to the death of at least 20 civilians.

According to allafrica.com, Mogadishu's Hodan district was the center of the violence Wednesday and Thursday with clashes between Ethiopian troops and Somali rebels. Both sides used extensive weaponry, including tanks, rockets and grenades.

Ethiopia sent its contingent to neighboring Somalia in early 2007 with the mission to oust the then-ruling Islamic regime. With tacit US support, the combined forces of Ethiopia and the weak Somali government in exile managed to free most of the country from the Islamists, but the fights have continued ever since.

NAIROBI, Kenya. Twenty-two dead, many more wounded, and a shattered economy are the result of anti-governmental protests called by the Kenyan opposition Wednesday. Only today, at least three people lost their lives in violent clashes between Masai warriors and forces faithful to the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki.

News agencies report that the hostilities took place in one of Nairobi's poverty-stricken suburbs and in the coastal city of Mombasa. The latter was traditionally a tourist hot spot but has recorded a plummeting number of visitors since the first battles erupted on December 27, 2007.

Clashes among Kenya's tribesmen have left more than 600 casualties since the opposition leader Raila Odinga announced the December presidential election had been rigged. Despite calls from international organizations, such as the United Nations and the African Union, Odinga seems unwilling to accept anything less than the resignation of Kibaki or the repetition of the election.

AMERICAS

WASHINGTON, DC. At the beginning of his first term, U.S. President George W. Bush said he would not interfere with the economy. But that was eight years ago, and the American economy was blooming. Now, as his second term is drawing to a close, Bush says some Washington-led blueprint may be needed to save the country from a recession.

The stimulus package offered by the Bush Administration will contain tax cuts for ordinary people and new economic proposals for businessmen. Quoted by the Associated Press, the American president admitted that he hopes the initiative boosts more money into the shortening domestic market, “Letting Americans keep more of their money should increase consumer spending.”

ASIA

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. The Pakistani army confirmed the killing of at least 90 Islamic rebels on Friday, along the volatile border with Afghanistan. The army offensive was in retaliation for the death of several soldiers in a rebel ambush that was carried out on Wednesday. The level of violence in Pakistan has risen considerably since the assassination of the former prime minister and opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto.

Meanwhile, the CIA confirmed on Friday that it has no doubts that Bhutto died by the hands of Islamist radicals; namely, Baitullah Meshud's group. The agency's director, Michael Hyden, was quoted today by the Agence France-Presse as saying, “This was done by that network around Baitullah Mehsud. We have no reason to question that.”

He also added that there was “nexus now that probably was always there in latency but is now active: a nexus between Al-Qaeda and various extremist and separatist groups.”

EUROPE

ROME, Italy. Italy faces another political crisis with the resignation of the justice minister, Clemente Mastella. With him leaves the government, his centrist Popular-UDEUR party – a small but crucial member of the ruling center-left coalition. Without Mastella and his colleagues, Prime Minister Romano Prodi holds the majority with only a single vote more in the Senate, Italy's upper chamber of parliament.

Although Mastella had warned many times he would desert the government since he helped to create it in 2005, his resignation is the result of corruption charges that he faces, together with his wife– another of Italy's prominent politicians.

MIDDLE EAST

JERUSALEM, Israel. Israel closed all its crossings on the Gaza Strip border in response to the growing number of rocket attacks, recently launched from the Palestinian territory. According to the Associated Press, as many as 16 rockets could have been fired at the Jewish State today; the source reported no casualties.

Friday, the Israeli Air Force destroyed several targets in the Gaza Strip, killing one Islamist radical and two civilians. The United Nations warns that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip may severely damage the Palestinian economy, which is dependent on foreign aid and workplaces in the Jewish State.

The Hamas militia, which controls the Gaza Strip, said today that, “if the bloodshed in Gaza and the West Bank does not stop, there will be similar bloodshed in ... Tel Aviv.” (The Associated Press).