12 January 2006 Edition

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News in Brief

UN General found dead in Haiti

The body of General Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar, the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti, was discovered early in the morning of Saturday 7 January, in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, with a bullet wound to the head. It is believed he ended his own life. Teixeira da Matta Bacellar had taken over as head of the 9,000-strong peacekeeping force in September last year. The UN troops have been directly implicated in massacres. On Friday, the UN Security Council urged the country's interim government to hold an election by 7 February. Voting had originally been scheduled for November, then moved to December, and then delayed a third time until 8 January. But last week Haiti's provisional electoral council postponed the election again, without setting a new date.

Concern over peace process in Sri Lanka

Up to 13 Sri Lankan sailors are presumed dead after a navy boat was ambushed by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels, officials say. A fishing boat crammed with explosives rammed one of two patrol vessels as they left the port of Trincomalee.

The attack comes amid growing concerns that Sri Lanka's four-year old ceasefire will soon break down, as the peace process has been hamstrung since Sri Lanka's presidential election in November. New President Mahinda Rajapakse has been unable to agree on a venue for peace talks with the rebels.

On Friday 6 January around 10,000 people in Trincomalee attended the funeral of five Tamil students, killed earlier in week. A post-mortem showed the students had gunshot wounds. The rebels have accused the Sri Lankan security forces of carrying out the killings.

Zapatista leader dies

Commander Ramona, one of the leaders of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) has died. The public face of EZLN, Sub-commander Marcos, cancelled his political tour around Mexico to return to Chiapas for her funeral.

Ramona, who was considered the heart of the Zapatista Movement, was the first guerrilla member to publicly visit the Mexican capital in October 1996 to participate in the National Indigenous Congress. At the time, she also underwent surgery to deal with her renal problems. Her last public appearance was during the plenary meetings of the Other Campaign in September 2005.

Spanish Army officer under house arrest

Spanish Defence Minister José Bono put a Spanish Army officer Lieutenant General José Mena Aguado under house arrest for eight days, after he warned of the "serious consequences" of the passing of regulations approved by 90% of the Catalan parliament extending its political autonomy from the Spanish state.

Bird Flu crisis in Turkey

At least 14 people have tested positive for the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu as the disease spreads towards mainland Europe. Over 60 people with flu-like symptoms who were in contact with fowl are undergoing tests in Turkish hospitals.

A cull of chickens is being carried out in the country but it is believed that many impoverished Kurds are refusing to give up their birds, which are eluding the cull.

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