Tuesday January 22, 2013

Inside job, 2 Canadian militants, bomb experts: Algeria describes how Islamists drove mayhem

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- The hostage-taking at a remote Algerian gas plant was carried out by 30 militants from across the northern swath of Africa and two from Canada, authorities said. The militants, who wore military uniforms and knew the layout, included explosives experts who rigged it with bombs and a leader whose final order was to kill all the captives.

The operation also had help with inside knowledge -- a former driver at the plant, Algeria’s prime minister said Monday.

In all, 38 workers and 29 militants died, the Algerian prime minister said Monday, offering the government’s first detailed account of four days of chaos that ended with a bloody military raid he defended as the only way possible to end the standoff. Five foreigners are still missing.

"You may have heard the last words of the terrorist chief," Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters. "He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head."

Monday’s account offered the first Algerian government narrative of the standoff, from the moment of the attempted bus hijacking on Wednesday to the moment when the attackers prepared Saturday to detonate bombs across the sprawling complex.


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That’s when Algerian special forces moved in for the second and final time.

Accused priests’ files show how LA church hierarchy controlled damage, kept followers in dark

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark, according to church personnel files.

The confidential records filed in a lawsuit against the archdiocese disclose how the church handled abuse allegations for decades and also reveal dissent from a top Mahony aide who criticized his superiors for covering up allegations of abuse rather than protecting children.

Notes inked by Mahony demonstrate he was disturbed about abuse and sent problem priests for treatment, but there also were lengthy delays or oversights in some cases. Mahony received psychological reports on some priests that mentioned the possibility of many other victims, for example, but there is no indication that he or other church leaders investigated further.

"This is all intolerable and unacceptable to me," Mahony wrote in 1991 on a file of the Rev. Lynn Caffoe, a priest suspected of locking boys in his room, videotaping their crotches and running up a $100 phone sex bill while with a boy. Caffoe was sent for therapy and removed from ministry, but Mahony didn’t move to defrock him until 2004, a decade after the archdiocese lost track of him.

"He is a fugitive from justice," Mahony wrote to the Vatican’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI. "A check of the Social Security index discloses no report of his demise, so presumably he is alive somewhere."

French forces seize control of
2 key Mali towns, patrol streets after Islamist rebels flee

DIABALY, Mali (AP) -- French troops in armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of Diabaly on Monday, winning praise from residents of this besieged town after Malian forces retook control of it with French help a week after radical Islamists invaded.

The Islamists also have deserted the town of Douentza, which they had held since September, according to a local official who said French and Malian forces arrived there on Monday as well.

The militants’ occupation of Diabaly marked their deepest encroachment into government-held territory, and Monday’s retaking of the town is a significant victory for the French-led intervention.

Diabaly, located about 320 miles (460 kilometers) north of Bamako, the capital, fell into rebel hands on Jan. 14. Residents said those who fled in the aftermath were forced to escape on foot through rice fields.

"We are truly really grateful to the French who came in the nick of time," said Gaoussou Kone, 34, the head of a local youth association. "Without the French, not only would there no longer be a Diabaly, there would soon no longer be a Mali. These people wanted to go all the way to Bamako."

Russian government to evacuate more than 100 Russians from Syria

BEIRUT (AP) -- Russia said Monday it is sending two planes to Lebanon to start evacuating its citizens from Syria, the strongest sign yet that President Bashar Assad’s most important international ally has serious doubts about his ability to cling to power.

The Russian announcement came as anti-government activists reported violence around the country, including air raids on the town of Beit Sahm near Damascus International Airport, just south of the capital.

Russian officials said about 100 of the tens of thousands of Russian nationals in the country will be taken out overland to Lebanon and flown home from there, presumably because renewed fighting near the airport in Damascus has made it too dangerous for the foreigners to use that route out of the Syrian capital.

Assad has dismissed calls that he step down. He has proposed a national reconciliation conference, elections and a new constitution, but the opposition insists he play no role in a resolution to the conflict. The U.N. says more than 60,000 people have died in the civil war since March 2011.

Russia has been Assad’s main ally since the conflict began, using its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to shield Damascus from international sanctions.

Report: N.M. boy accused of killing parents, 3 siblings said he had homicidal, suicidal thoughts

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The New Mexico teenager accused of fatally shooting his parents and three younger siblings told police he had been having homicidal and suicidal thoughts.

According to a probable cause statement, a Bernalillo County sheriff’s detective questioned 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego on Saturday about the killings at the family home in a rural area southwest of Albuquerque.

The statement says Griego told the detective he first shot his mother as she was sleeping and then shot a younger brother in the same room and then two younger sisters in another.

It says he then told the detective he waited for his father to return home and then gunned him down.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Aaron Williamson said Monday he couldn’t immediately comment on the document.