June 5, 2008 in Nation/World

Police detain Zimbabwe opposition leader

The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

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The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition was detained by police for about nine hours Wednesday amid ominous signs the government is tightening its grip on the country less than four weeks before a presidential runoff election.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who returned 12 days ago to face President Robert Mugabe in the June 27 ballot, was taken with about 14 others from his Movement for Democratic Change office to a police station in Lupane, north of Bulawayo, his spokesman said.

Spokesman George Sibotshiwe was quoted in a party statement as saying Tsvangirai was released after being charged with a public order offense that he described as “a spurious charge of attracting a large number of people.”

Baghdad, Iraq

Rocket accident kills 18 civilians

At least 18 civilians were killed Wednesday in Baghdad when a truck filled with Shiite militia rockets accidentally blew up, U.S. military officials said. It was the deadliest single explosion in the Iraqi capital in months.

Also Wednesday, gunmen killed three U.S. soldiers in the Sunni town of Hawijah, in northern Iraq, the military said.

The Baghdad incident occurred around 2 p.m. in the Shaab neighborhood just west of Sadr City, the stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militiamen have battled U.S. troops in recent months.

Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said Shiite militiamen were attempting to fire rockets at a U.S. base from the back of a parked truck about 800 yards away. But he said the rockets, which were supposed to be detonated by a fuse or timer, exploded early.

The blast also wounded 29 people and destroyed 15 houses in a residential area around the truck, U.S. officials said. There were no U.S. casualties.

Cairo, Egypt

Group claims embassy attack

An al-Qaida group has purportedly claimed responsibility for the suicide attack earlier this week against Denmark’s embassy in Pakistan that left six people dead.

An Internet message late Wednesday says the attack was carried out to fulfill Osama bin Laden’s promise of revenge over the reprinting in Danish papers of a cartoon of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

The statement was posted on a Web site frequently used by the Islamic militants, but its authenticity couldn’t immediately be verified.

Denmark officials said earlier that they suspected al-Qaida was behind Tuesday’s attack.

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