Sierra Leone

IRIN-WA Update 135 of Events in West Africa

U N I T E D N A T I O N S
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa

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SIERRA LEONE: Priests threatened

Catholic priests critical of Sierra Leone's ruling Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) have received anonymous death threats, a lay member of the church council told AFP on Thursday. Church-goers were reportedly asked to pray for their clergy because several priests had received threatening telephone calls in recent weeks. According to AFP, the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone had offended the AFRC by demanding the immediate restoration of President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who was ousted in a May coup by junior army officers. "These threats have to come from the junta," one Church official told AFP.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone's Inter-Church Council also condemned the AFRC for the slow implementation of the Sierra Leone peace plan, which allows for a return to civilian rule by 22 April. Council president Llewlyn Rogers Wright told journalists all signatories should show they were "sincere" about the accord negotiated in the Guinean capital Conakry last October.

NIGERIA: Over 300 killed in kerosene explosions

More than 300 people in Nigeria have been killed in the past two weeks by explosions of lamps and stoves fueled with highly inflammable adulterated kerosene, news reports said on Thursday. Officials explained that kerosene mixed with petrol had found its way on to the black market because of a shortage of petroluem products nationwide. Managing director of state owned Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Alhaji Haruna Abubukar warned the public to be on the alert for black market fuel. Earlier in the week, the government announced that it would continue to import fuel because two of the country's four oil refineries were undergoing maintenance.

Vatican confirms papal visit in March

The Vatican on Friday confirmed in a statement that Pope John Paul II would pay a two-day official visit to Nigeria from 21 to 23 March, AFP reported. The Pope would visit Abuja, federal capital, 514 km north of Lagos and Enugu, 350 km to the southeast. He would also beatify a Nigerian priest. Earlier, news reports said that Abuja was being readied to receive two million Roman Catholic pilgrims. The Pope was invited by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria. His only other pilgrimage to Nigeria was in February 1982.

GHANA: Communal violence claims fifth victim

Communal violence between rival Muslim sects in northern Ghana claimed a fifth victim this week, media sources reported. Fighting between the Tijaniya and fundamentalist Al-Sunni sects started last Friday in Wenchi, 320 km northwest of the capital Accra, in a dispute over the ownership of a graveyard. According to Ghanaian radio, the two sects have been in conflict over religious differences for two years.

SENEGAL: Union blocks pilgrimage flights to Mecca

Air Afrique workers carried out their threat to block Senegalese Muslims going on the hajj if they did not get the contract to fly pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, AFP reported on Thursday. According to the news agency the Air Afrique workers' union said it would not service planes from Saudia Airlines which was awarded the allegedly lucrative contract by Senegal's transport minister earlier this week. A union official rejected ministry claims that Saudia Airlines had offered pilgrims cheaper fares.

Abidjan, 29 January 1998 17:15 gmt

[ends]

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