Matthew Lee

Matthew Lee

    The Bush administration is preparing a case to designate the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea a "state sponsor of terrorism" for its alleged support of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in Somalia, the top United States diplomat for Africa said on Friday. Officials are compiling evidence of Eritrean backing for the extremists to support the designation.

    The continuing genocide in Sudan's troubled Darfur region was the world's worst human rights abuse last year, the United States said on Tuesday in a global report that found freedoms were eroding in numerous other nations, including US allies Afghanistan and Iraq. The State Department also criticised Russia for a "further erosion of government accountability".

    Unusually heavy seasonal rains are threatening Somalia with its worst floods in 50 years while the impoverished Horn of Africa country teeters on the brink of all-out war. As forces loyal to the government and the Islamist movement gird for full-scale conflict that many fear could engulf the wider region, about 50 000 Somalis have been displaced by devastating and deadly floods.

    In a field tucked away in a remote corner of south-west Kenya, perhaps the most unusual and poignant September 11 condolence gift to the United States grazes contentedly on long grass. Here in the heart of Maasailand, a small herd of cows ruminates, unaware they have forged a powerful symbolic bond between an isolated tribal community and the world's last superpower.