ALGERIA ““ (BBC) Three European aid workers have been kidnapped from a refugee camp in western Algeria. Two Spanish workers and an Italian were seized overnight from the Rabuni camp near Tindouf, their foreign ministries confirmed. The Polisario movement, which is seeking independence for western Sahara and runs the camp, blamed local al-Qaeda militants for the kidnappings. The Algerian government condemned the kidnapping, but said it was awaiting more detailed reports before commenting further. “We condemn this criminal act with the greatest vigor,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Amar Belani said in a statement to the AFP news agency.
ENGLAND ““ (BBC) Prime Minister David Cameron has clashed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the United Kingdom’s involvement in discussions about the eurozone crisis. Mr. Sarkozy believes the final talks on Wednesday should be limited to nations that actually use the euro, while Mr. Cameron believes all EU leaders should be present to debate issues which could affect them in one way or another. All EU leaders are now set to attend the final meeting on Wednesday, which was originally meant to be attended by only the 17 countries that use the euro. This decision prompted a response from Sarkozy, quoted as telling Cameron, “We are sick of you criticizing us and telling us what to do.” On Saturday, eurozone finance ministers struck a provisional deal that will see banks raise more than 100 billion euros (£87 billion) in new capital to shield them against possible losses to indebted countries. Debt-laden Greece has been bailed out–twice–along with the Irish Republic and Portugal. The eurozone is working on a third package for Greece, as well as a solution that could help the much bigger economies of Spain and Italy, which are currently faltering.
GERMANY ““ (BBC) A large German spacecraft has made an uncontrolled fall from the sky. The Roentgen Satellite (Rosat) reentered the earth’s atmosphere between 1:45 and 2:15 GMT on October 23. Similar to NASA’s UARS satellite, which plunged into the atmosphere in September, there was high uncertainty about the final moments of Rosat. If the timings are correct, any wreckage would probably end up in the Indian Ocean–if anything manages to make landfall, the likely areas to be affected would be Myanmar and China.
TURKEY ““ (BBC) A strong earthquake has shattered buildings near the Turkish city of Van, killing more than 200 people and trapping an unknown number under rubble. Casualties are reported to be particularly high in the town of Ercis, close to the Iranian border. The earthquake struck at 13:41 (10:41 GMT) at a depth of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). It was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, including two of magnitude 5.6 soon after the quake and one of 6.0 late Sunday. Town Mayor Zulfikar Arapoglu appealed for help, saying, “We need urgent aid, we need medics. People are in agony, we can hear their screams for help. We need urgent help.” Mustafa Erdik, general manager of the Kandilli Observatory, said “We estimated around 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost–it could be 500 or 1,000.” Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines–two earthquakes in 1999 with a magnitude of more than 7 killed almost 20,000 people in densely populated areas of the northwest of the country.