In brief: Starvation threat grows in Africa
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations warned Wednesday that the famine in East Africa hasn’t peaked and hundreds of thousands of people face imminent starvation and death without a massive global response.
U.N. deputy emergency relief coordinator Catherine Bragg appealed to the international community for $1.3 billion needed urgently to save lives.
“Every day counts,” she told the U.N. Security Council. “We believe that tens of thousands have already died. Hundreds of thousands face imminent starvation and death. We can act to prevent further loss of life and ensure the survival of those who are on the brink of death.”
Bragg’s appeal came as a U.N. food agency official warned that the number of people fleeing famine-hit areas of Somalia is likely to rise dramatically and could overwhelm international aid efforts in the Horn of Africa.
Two explosions hit northwest Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives-laden vest near police guarding the scene of a bombing earlier this morning in the northwestern city of Peshawar, authorities said. Four officers and a boy died in the first blast, while both attacks wounded at least 30 people.
Police said a second female suicide bomber is also believed to have been killed in the second explosion before she could detonate her vest.
The blasts ended weeks of relative calm in Peshawar, a frequent target of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters hiding in the nearby tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. No group claimed responsibility, but the attacks suggested that militants remain able to strike, despite army operations against them.
Lawmaker seeks film project probe
WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sought an investigation Wednesday into the Obama administration’s cooperation with award-winning filmmakers working on a movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said too much information already has leaked out about the Navy SEALs raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May, and Pentagon officials have cautioned against discussing details of the mission.
King asked the inspectors general of the CIA and Defense Department to determine what consultations occurred in the Obama administration about providing Hollywood with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers.
The picture will be directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the screenwriter will be Mark Boal, 2009 Academy Award winners for “The Hurt Locker.”
The White House ridiculed King’s request, saying the moviemakers will not receive any sensitive information.
Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “When people, including you in this room, are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure that facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media.
“We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie.”
Bali bombing suspect extradited
JAKARTA, Indonesia – An Indonesian militant who allegedly made the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings was escorted home under tight security today, more than six months after he was captured in northwest Pakistan.
Umar Patek had a $1 million bounty on his head when authorities caught up with him Jan. 25 in Abbottabad – the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando attack four months later.
Patek touched down outside Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, this morning and was taken straight to a police detention center in the West Java town of Kelapa Dua, said an anti-terror official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
No trial date has been announced.
Indonesian officials say Patek has confessed to playing a key role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.
He also admitted to making the bombs used in a string of Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000 that claimed 19 lives, they say.