For the third time this month, opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was detained by police in Zimbabwe Thursday as he traveled to meet with voters before the June 27 runoff election. In a related action, the secretary-general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) also was taken into custody as he returned home from a two-month trip to appeal for the support of other African leaders for the party's campaign to unseat President Robert Mugabe. Tendai Biti will be charged with treason, police said.
Documents obtained by the BBC appear to indicate that Mugabe's reelection campaign is being run by the military, the news organization reported Thursday. It said the documents outline plans to harass opposition supporters and to use the distribution of scarce food supplies as a political weapon. In addition, it said a police source had confirmed that he and fellow officers have been ordered to cast their ballots for Mugabe in front of their commanders rather than in secret. Authenticating the documents is difficult, however, the BBC said, since its reporters are banned from Zimbabwe.
In a new sign of improved relations, a senior official of China's government has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan, it was announced. The two sides opened their first formal talks since 1999 in Beijing Thursday and are expected to release details of an accord that lifts a 59-year ban on direct commercial flights and allows mainland Chinese to visit the island as tourists. The date of the official's visit to Taiwan wasn't announced, but his trip will take place later this year, the sides said.
At least four people were killed and 25 others were hurt Thursday in a massive explosion that destroyed the home of a senior Hamas weapons specialist in the northern Gaza Strip. The fate of the owner, Ahmad Hamouda, wasn't immediately known. Hamas blamed the blast on an attack by Israeli warplanes and fired a barrage of more than 20 rockets and mortar shells into the Jewish state in retaliation. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the explosion had been internal and that "our air and land forces did not act in that area at that time." Above, a shaken woman is helped away from the scene.
What may be the largest seizure of illegal drugs in history was announced by NATO forces in Afghanistan, dealing a heavy blow to Taliban efforts to fund guerrilla and terrorist activities. Acting on a tip, NATO units and Afghan police found 237 tons of hashish hidden in underground bunkers in southern Kandahar Province. The stash, estimated to be worth $400 million, was destroyed in a fire set by bombs dropped from NATO warplanes.
International donors have been slow to respond to an urgent appeal for funds to aid survivors of the May 2-3 cyclone that ravaged much of Burma (Myanmar), the UN said. As of Monday, only $113 million had been received of the $201 million sought in the appeal, a statement said, warning that the shortfall likely would affect delivery of food, clean water, medicines, and other needs to the affected area. A spokeswoman said it was hoped that donations would increase after the UN completes an assessment of needs from its current inspection tour of the Irrawaddy Delta.
A new policy that removes state control over how much people may earn regardless of their productivity, skills, and experience was announced by Cuba's government Wednesday. In an interview in the Communist Party newspaper Granma, a senior official said, "There has been a tendency for people to earn the same ... [and] that is something we have to fix." The change, which takes effect next month, follows previously announced reforms such as allowing Cubans who can afford them to buy computers, own cellphones, and rent hotel rooms formerly available only to foreigners.