onga Oilfield, Nigeria
Brazen ‘declaration of war’: Militants attacked an offshore oil installation last week, abruptly halting about 10 percent of Nigeria’s oil production. In recent years, protestors have frequently sabotaged inland pipelines, but until this incident, oil companies had believed their offshore facilities were safe. The Bonga platform, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, is located 75 miles off the coast. A group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for the attack, in an e-mail titled “Declaration of War.” But a few days later, the same group announced a unilateral cease-fire, saying, “We are respecting an appeal by the Niger Delta elders to give peace and dialogue another chance.” The militants object to the diversion of oil profits from the desperately poor region.
Conservative Anglicans gather: More than 1,000 conservative Anglicans from 25 countries gathered in Jerusalem this week for a conference designed to wrest the future of the church away from its liberal leadership. The conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, have accused the church of abandoning biblical principles by electing an openly gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Akinola said traditional Anglicans would not seek to break up the church. But in comments seen as a power play, he said there would be an “unavoidable realignment” of power from the U.K. and the U.S. to Africa, Asia, and South America, where leaders are more conservative. “If we fail to act,” said Akinola, “we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures.”
Iraqi antiquities returned: Jordan this week turned over nearly 2,500 ancient artifacts that had been stolen from Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. “The objects have been seized by Jordanian customs officials in 22 smuggling attempts,” said Jordanian minister Maha al-Khatib at a ceremony with Iraqi officials in Amman. “All those involved have been arrested.” The recovered artifacts included jewelry, ceramics, and ancient Sumerian scrolls. Of the roughly 32,000 antiquities looted from museums and archaeological sites in 2003, some 8,500 have now been returned, including several of the most valuable and historically significant pieces. Iraq said other items had ended up in Iran and Europe.
Fighting spills into Pakistan: U.S. and NATO troops killed nearly 100 Afghan insurgents in a series of pitched battles last week that included strikes across the Pakistan border. NATO officials said the heaviest fighting began when militants ambushed foreign troops on patrol along the border, and continued with artillery attacks and airstrikes. At least eight foreign troops and dozens of civilians were killed. The battles followed a successful effort by NATO to regain control of several towns near Kandahar, where hundreds of Taliban fighters had set up base. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of the Kandahar provincial council and brother of President Hamid Karzai, said NATO needed to go on the offensive. “We shouldn’t be in a position of defending the city,” he said. “We should go after the Taliban instead.”
Cheers for the torch: The Olympic torch passed through the capital of Tibet unmolested last week, with hundreds of police and troops on the scene to prevent pro-autonomy protests like the ones that paralyzed the city last March. The streets were virtually shut down to keep residents at bay, while pre-approved onlookers lined the route, waving flags and chanting, “Go China.” Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama of plotting to disrupt the Olympics with “suicide squads,” a charge the Buddhist leader denies. Anti-China protestors have disrupted the torch route in several cities, including Paris, London, and San Francisco.
Sibuyan Island, Philippines
Typhoon sinks crowded ferry: Nearly 800 people were missing and presumed dead this week, after a crowded ferry sank during a ferocious typhoon. Most of the passengers “were trapped when the seven-story ship suddenly tilted and capsized,” said Edgard Arevalo of the, Philippines Navy. About 50 survivors were found, including nearly 30 who drifted for 24 hours in a rubber life raft. “Others were clinging to the lifeboat,” said passenger Carlo Jason Arrabis. “We did not expect to survive.” Families converged on the headquarters of the ferry company to express outrage that the ship was allowed to leave as the storm approached. Across the Philippines, Typhoon Fengshen killed at least 200 people as the country was pounded with 120-mile-per-hour winds.
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