ROME – After keeping Italians, and the rest of Europe, in suspense for weeks, caretaker Premier Mario Monti on Sunday ruled out campaigning in February elections, but said he would consider leading the next government if politicians who share his focus on reform request it.
The decision positions him to take the helm again without having to get into the political nitty-gritty of an election – preserving his image as someone above the fray who can make tough decisions on imposing austerity. His previous measures have boosted confidence in Italy’s finances, and fellow European leaders have made no secret they want to keep them in place.
Monti, after his resignation Friday, is continuing in a caretaker role.
Troops rescue hijacked hostages
NAIROBI, Kenya – In a siege that lasted nearly two weeks, forces of Somalia’s semiautonomous Puntland region raided a hijacked ship Sunday and safely rescued 22 hostages who had been held captive for nearly three years, authorities said.
The Puntland government said their forces captured the Panama-flagged MV Iceberg 1.
“After two years and nine months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness. The hostages are now receiving nutrition and medical care,” a statement said.
The rescued crew members include eight Yemenis, five Indians, two Pakistanis, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese and a Filipino, a Puntland Ports and Anti-piracy minister said. The ship was hijacked March 29, 2010.
Extremists destroy more mausoleums
BAMAKO, Mali – A tourism official says Islamist extremists destroyed four mausoleums in Timbuktu on Sunday.
The director of Mali’s Timbuktu tourism office, Sane Chirfi, said Ansar Dine rebels linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb tore down the mausoleums, which were historic but not included on the United Nations list of World Heritage sites. The mausoleums housed the remains of Muslim scholars and teachers who are revered by the Timbuktu population.
Since taking control of Timbuktu earlier this year, the Islamists have destroyed seven of the 16 mausoleums listed as world heritage sites. Some date back to the 14th century.