Top of the Morning: President of Mauritania Shot, Maybe Accidentally? Massacre of Muslims in Nigeria Mosque; UN Warns of 2013 Food Crisis

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

President of Mauritania Shot–Accidentally?

The government says this was an accidental shooting by a nervous soldier at a checkpoint. It appears he will recover and is currently in a hospital in Paris. “Mr. Abdel Aziz was driving on a track through the desert near Tweila, northeast of Nouakchott, when soldiers mistakenly opened fire on his unescorted vehicle, the communications minister, Hamdi Ould Mahjoub, said by telephone on Sunday. Mauritanian news Web sites reported that the president had been shot in the arm and that no vital organs had been hit. Mr. Abdel Aziz, 55, was returning to Nouakchott after one of his habitual weekend excursions in the wilderness, Mr. Mahjoub said, when he came on a military checkpoint, which are scattered throughout the country, ostensibly to counter the threat from Al Qaeda. The president was driving the unmarked car, with one passenger, Mr. Mahjoub said, and there was no escort in the immediate vicinity. Mr. Abdel Aziz is known for sometimes driving himself around Nouakchott, and for occasionally wading into crowds with minimal security. ‘He was shot at an army checkpoint,’ Mr. Mahjoub said. The president was hit but his passenger was not, a circumstance that fueled more speculation on the Mauritanian Web sites that Mr. Abdel Aziz was targeted deliberately. Mr. Mahjoub, the communications minister, insisted that that was not the case. ‘This was friendly fire, a mistake,’ he said. ‘He’s used to driving out, himself, in an unmarked car.’ The minister suggested that the president might have been driving fast, perhaps startling the soldiers at the checkpoint.” (NYT

At Least 21 Worshippers Killed in Northern Nigeria Mosque 

Once again the specter of widespread sectarian violence seems to be looming in Nigeria. “A gang disguised in police uniforms opened fire on worshippers at a mosque in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least 21 people, officials and residents said. The military and locals said the pre-dawn raid in the village of Dogon Dawa in Kaduna state was carried out by armed robbers engaged in a running feud with a local vigilante group. Having been repelled by the community militia last week, the gang returned on Sunday, storming the mosque as people readied for early morning prayers, killing some victims inside the building and some outside. “We have 21 killed. Several others have been taken to the hospital with injuries,” said Musa Illela of the National Emergency Management Agency in Kaduna. Religiously divided Kaduna has been rocked by waves of sectarian violence in recent months. Suicide bombings at three churches in June that were claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram sparked reprisal violence by Christian mobs who killed dozens of their Muslim neighbours, burning some of their victims’ bodies. Muslim groups also formed mobs and killed several Christians.” (AFP

UN: 2013 Global Food Crisis Looms

Yet more warning of a food crisis in the very near future. “World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned. Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN. ‘We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,’ said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently.” (Guardian