– Dispatches


Private security guards kill Somali pirate in gunfight

In the first killing of its kind, private security contractors shot dead a Somali pirate in a clash that left two skiffs riddled with bullet holes, officials said Wednesday.

The killing raises questions over who has jurisdiction over a growing army of armed guards on merchant ships flying flags from many nations.

There’s currently no regulation of private security aboard ships, no guidelines about who is responsible in case of an attack, and no industrywide standards, said piracy expert Roger Middleton from the British think tank Chatham House.

“There’s no guarantee of the quality of individuals you are going to get,” said Middleton. “If you’re a shipping company, that could be legally concerning.

“It’s also concerning to everyone if you have individuals with guns and not much oversight.”

The exact circumstances of Tuesday’s shooting are unclear, but the European Union Naval Force said guards were onboard the Panama-flagged MV Almezaan when a pirate group approached it twice, leading to a shoot-out between the guards and the pirates.


Country’s leftist president apologizes for assassination

El Salvador’s first leftist president publicly apologized on behalf of the state Wednesday for the assassination of a Roman Catholic archbishop 30 years ago at the outset of the country’s civil war.

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a human rights proponent who spoke out against repression by the Salvadoran army, was gunned down March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel.

Shortly before, Romero challenged soldiers from the pulpit to stop their repression in a famous address, declaring that “no soldier is obligated to obey a law against the law of God.”

President Mauricio Funes said Romero was killed by right-wing death squads “who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents.”


16 runaway train cars smash terminal, kill three

Sixteen runaway train cars careened downhill for three miles and crashed into a port building Wednesday, killing three workers, before two of the cars plunged into the water.

The empty train cars broke loose from a cargo train and slammed into the port terminal on the edge of the Oslo fjord, destroying the building, police and railroad officials said.

The victims had been working in or around the terminal, police spokeswoman Martine Laeng said.


Country’s anti-nudity law a first for liberal Europe

In a break with liberal European practice, Iceland has voted to ban striptease shows, making it an offense for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Iceland’s legislature, the Althingi, passed the ban Tuesday night, with just two abstentions and no votes against, although almost half the country’s 63 lawmakers were absent.

Both opponents and supporters of the bill said Wednesday it was a European first. With the exception of the Vatican and tiny principalities like Andorra, strip clubs operate across the continent.

“I am quite happy about Iceland being the first European country to take this step,” said Steinunn Valdis Oskarsdottir, a Social Democrat lawmaker who supported the ban.

“Women who work at strip clubs are in many cases the victims of human trafficking and other kinds of abuse,” she said. “I have been working in this field for almost 15 years and not yet have I met one woman who dances at strip clubs because she wants to.”

— From news service reports

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