UN workers quit Somalia

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

The United Nations and foreign aid agencies began evacuating workers yesterday after battles between Somalis and UN peace-keepers killed at least 22 Pakistani troops and as many as 23 Somalis, AP reports from Mogadishu.

The fighting crippled humanitarian efforts. Dozens of non-essential UN personnel were told to pack their bags and were waiting at Mogadishu's airport for a plane that was to take them to Nairobi. The fighting, the worst in Mogadishu since anti-US riots in February, revealed the tenuous security situation even after six months of foreign military presence.

The Security Council scheduled an emergency session yesterday to deal with the crisis that killed more peacekeepers in one day than any other UN mission in memory. Saturday's fighting broke out as UN troops inspected weapons warehouses, a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman said the commander of Pakistan's troops in Somalia had told him.

Guatemala pledge

Guatemala's top human rights official, Ramiro de Leon Carpio, took over as President early yesterday and pledged to rebuild democracy, five days after the army deposed the president, Jorge Serrano, in a bloodless palace coup, Reuter reports from Guatemala City.

Mr De Leon, sworn in a few hours after Congress elected him, pleaded for national unity but faces a delicate relationship with the armed forces.

Congo blasts

Three grenades exploded early yesterday, just an hour before polling stations opened for legislative elections boycotted by the opposition, AP reports from Brazzaville. No one was hurt and little damage was done by the explosions, which hit a voting booth and the home of the police chief, Pierre Makoumba Nzambi.