In brief: Putin cites Boston bombings as reason for Sochi security
Sochi, Russia – President Vladimir Putin pointed Wednesday to the Boston Marathon bombings as a big reason for the intense security around the Winter Olympics that Russia is kicking off this week.
The Chechen brothers accused of the 2013 Boston attack hailed from just a few hundred miles away from the Olympic sites at Sochi. This Black Sea town and neighboring Caucasus Mountains are readying to host world leaders, thousands of athletes and many more spectators at the Feb. 7-23 games.
Twin bombings in another southern Russian city in December have heightened terrorism fears around the Sochi events.
Intelligence agencies from multiple countries will be working together around the clock at a special headquarters in Sochi, Putin said while visiting Olympic sites Wednesday.
“In the U.S., people died at a marathon, during the G-8 there were terrorist acts in the London subway,” he said.
Panama Canal expansion stalls as talks end
Panama City – Work on the ambitious Panama Canal expansion project was halted Wednesday after talks broke down on how to settle a dispute over $1.6 billion in cost overruns.
Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Quijano told a news conference the stoppage will give authorities time to analyze how to proceed on the project to widen the canal.
“I don’t even want to suggest that the next steps will be easy or risk-free,” a visibly angered Quijano told reporters in Panama. “What I do want to make clear is that we will not yield to blackmail.”
The Panama Canal Authority and the Spanish-led construction consortium leading the expansion blame each other for the overruns. They were negotiating how to pay for the unplanned extra costs when talks broke down.
An agreement “is now no longer possible,” Quijano said, adding that the consortium had ordered its employees to stop work.
Other foreign contractors and project managers have expressed an interest in completing the 30 percent of work that remains on the third canal lock, according to canal officials, but Quijano declined to provide details about its plan B except to say that under no circumstances would a 2015 deadline to complete construction be pushed back.
Mob of soldiers stabs, kills suspected rebel
Bangui, Central African Republic – In a shocking display of violence that underscores the anarchy in Central African Republic, soldiers and recruits killed a suspected rebel Wednesday with knives and concrete blocks just moments after the president and other VIPs left the area.
The soldiers dragged the mutilated corpse through the streets.
The attack happened despite the presence of French and African peacekeepers who are trying to stabilize the country as its own army is rebuilt and shows that members of the army itself are a problem.
Moments after interim President Catherine Samba-Panza addressed a crowd of soldiers, saying how proud she was of them, troops in uniform ganged up on a man they suspected of belonging to the Seleka rebellion that overthrew the government last March.
After the first stab, Burundian troops surrounded the wounded man in an attempt to protect him from the growing crowd. As the crowd moved closer, the soldiers simply withdrew, not even firing warning shots that might have dispersed the mob.
The mob then went in for the kill. The soldiers pulled out knives and began stabbing the man while others kicked him in the face. Others pelted him with concrete blocks as the crowd cheered.