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SOMALIA: Prison for pirates opens

A new maximum-security prison opened in northern Somalia on Tuesday, raising hopes that it can help relieve the burden on other nations affected by piracy that are reluctant to imprison pirates. Most suspected pirates captured by international warships are released because other nations don't want to jail them, and most Somali prisons and courts are not up to international standards. Navies, which nickname the problem "catch-and-release," say it's one reason pirates continue to threaten one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. As piracy has flourished, an unprecedented 17 countries are prosecuting pirates. Still, Somali jails have borne most of the burden. The UN paid for the $1.5-million refurbishment of the prison at Hargeisa.

YEMEN: Leader blames 'hired agents'

President Ali Abdullah Saleh said "hired agents" had started an insurgency in his country, a day after a deadly explosion at a weapons factory in the south. Saleh, addressing the ruling General People's Congress, declared, "Let the hired agents leave our homeland," according to the state-run Saba news agency. The explosion tore through the factory Monday in Abyan province amid clashes between gunmen and security forces. At least 100 people were reported killed in the blast. Thousands returned to the streets Tuesday, calling for an end to Saleh's 32-year rule, a day after sandstorms blanketed much of the country, forcing many people indoors.

IVORY COAST: Opposition troops gain

Troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of November's presidential election, moved closer to Abidjan, adding to pressure on embattled incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. The Republican Forces seized five towns this week and moved to within 149 miles of Abidjan after taking the eastern town of Abengourou on Monday, said a spokesman for Ouattara's forces. "It seems the security forces of Laurent Gbagbo refused to fight when the rebels entered the town," said an Abengourou resident.

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