World news briefs: 10/6/12
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JOHANNESBURG -- The world's top platinum producer fired 12,000 workers who refused to return to work Friday, apparently an attempt by the company to stem the tide of wildcat strikes that have shaken South Africa's mining industry and unsettled Africa's biggest economy.
The move by the company, Anglo American Platinum, is likely to heighten tensions in South Africa amid a wave of sometimes violent and illegal strikes by workers at platinum, gold and iron ore mines. Last week, Moody's downgraded South Africa's bond rating for the first time since 1994.
Anglo American Platinum said Friday that just 20 percent of its workers had been showing up at its shafts, forcing the closing of the company's entire operation in the Rustenberg area, home to the world's richest platinum deposit.
WASHINGTON -- Terrorist groups in Mali and Yemen that are affiliated with al-Qaida are "gaining strength," in large part by taking hostages for ransom, a senior U.S. Treasury official said Friday.
"The U.S. government estimates that terrorist organizations have collected approximately $120 million in ransom payments over the past eight years," said Deputy Treasury Secretary David Cohen in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
U.S. intelligence officials are investigating whether the two main groups Mr. Cohen cited, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, may have played a role in the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. officials say the Haqqani insurgent network, which has ties to al-Qaida, is suspected of being behind some "insider" attacks by Afghan forces. Those attacks have killed or wounded more than 130 American and allied troops this year.
Until now, officials had said the attacks seemed to stem from personal grievances against the allies or from Taliban infiltration.
BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia, once the largest supplier of cocaine worldwide, is cracking down on traffickers by thwarting theft of oil used to make the drug.
Police are destroying clandestine refineries where guerrillas and crime gangs process crude stolen from pipelines to use in cocaine production, said Lt. Col. Hector Alvarez Yotagri, head of a police unit that tracks the practice.
Rebels have targeted pipelines to guarantee fuel supplies for drug processing as well as show their military strength by more than quadrupling attacks on oil infrastructure as peace negotiations begin this month with the government.
A man from New York opened fire in the dining room of a hotel in the southern Israeli resort of Eilat on Friday and killed a kitchen worker before being shot dead by police officers, authorities said. The gunman, who was 23, had just been fired after working at the hotel for a couple of weeks. ... Two Coptic Christian boys were detained by the authorities in a village south of Cairo, Egypt, on charges that they defiled the pages of a Quran, the latest in a spate of recent cases involving accusations that people have insulted Islam. ... German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Athens Tuesday for the first time since Europe's financial crisis broke out there three years ago, a sign she's seeking to silence the debate on pushing Greece out of the euro.
First Published October 6, 2012 12:00 am