In brief: Arafat death not suspicious, Russians say
Moscow – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of natural causes nine years ago, not from poisoning by a radioactive substance as alleged by his widow, a Russian forensic investigation has concluded.
The Russian findings conflict with those of Swiss scientists, who said in November that they had found sufficient traces of polonium-210 in Arafat’s exhumed remains to conclude with relative certainty that he died of poisoning.
“The tests were comprehensive and there’s no need for re-examination. This person died of natural causes, not because of radioactive poisoning,” Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, told the RIA Novosti agency in Moscow.
Arafat died at age 75 on Nov. 11, 2004, less than a month after suddenly falling ill with symptoms that doctors initially attributed to influenza. But the vomiting, nausea and stomach pains of which he complained are also symptoms of radiation poisoning.
Attack on presidential palace repelled
Bangui, Central African Republican – Assailants armed with heavy weapons attempted late Thursday to attack the presidential palace as well as the residence of the Central African Republic’s embattled leader, but were pushed back, officials said.
Reached by telephone, Guy Simplice, spokesman for President Michel Djotodia, said there had been heavy fighting near the seat of government before the army was able to block the aggressors. Although the attackers could not immediately be identified, for weeks there have been rumors that a Christian militia, believed to be backed by the ousted president, who was removed by Djotodia in a coup nine months ago, would attempt to seize back power.
The heavy arms fire could be heard from the five-star Hotel Ledger, near the center of town, where international journalists are staying. A rocket came over the hotel’s wall, landing on the hotel grounds.