Tunisian president pardons 21 jailed Islamic terrorists

Zine El Abidine Ben AliTunis, Paris - On the 21st anniversary of his taking power, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has pardoned the last members of the banned Tunisian Islamic group Ennahdha still in prison, a judicial source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Wednesday.

According to the source, 21 leaders and activists of the Islamic movement, including the former head of the group, who was known as Sadok Chourou, received a "conditional release" from jail.

Several members of the group, including Chourou, were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992 for terrorist activities.

Somali gunmen kidnap Belgian, French, Kenyan aid workers

SomaliaMogadishu/Paris  - A group of armed Somali men kidnapped six foreigners - four aid workers and two pilots - near the town of Dusamareb in central Somali on Wednesday, residents said.

Mohamoud Dhaqane, a businessman in Dusamareb, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the six were seized by a convoy of armed gunmen at an airstrip.

Will Obama euphoria lead to deep disappointment?

Barack ObamaParis - As black French civil rights activists and their friends began celebrating Barack Obama's election early Wednesday in a private club in Paris, one reveler sounded a sobering, and largely unappreciated, note of caution.

"Obama is an American politician and he will govern like an American president," said Cameroonian journalist Paul Heutching. "Let's not jump to unrealistic conclusions just because he looks like us."

BNP Paribas third-quarter profits plunge by 55 per cent

Paris - Stung by the impact of the global financial crisis, French bank BNP Paribas said its profits for the third quarter of 2008 had fallen significantly compared to the same period last year.

Third-quarter profits stood at 901 million euros (1.16 billion dollars), down 55.6 per cent from 2007, BNP Paribas said in a statement.

The loss was attributed to "a direct impact of the financial crisis," which the bank estimated at 1.1 billion euros.

Turnover fell by a more modest 1 per cent, to 7.614 billion euros, compared to the third quarter of 2007.

"The direct impact of the financial crisis was significantly greater than in previous quarters," the bank said.

Nicolas Sarkozy, other French leaders congratulate Obama

Nicolas Sarkozy, other French leaders congratulate ObamaParis - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday sent a letter to US President-elect Barack Obama congratulating him on what he called a "brilliant victory."

After extending the "warmest congratulations" on his behalf and that of the French people, Sarkozy wrote that Obama's election triumph "crowns an exceptional campaign ... (that) has shown the vitality of American democracy to the entire world."

Sarkozy added, "In choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism."

France detains eight Basque separatist suspects

Madrid/Paris - French police Tuesday detained eight suspected Basque separatists, French and Spanish media reported.

The arrests were made in connection with an investigation into bars linked with Batasuna, a party regarded as the political wing of the militant group ETA.

The bars were also suspected of financing French Basque radicals who have carried out attacks against restaurants and other establishments, Spanish police sources said.

Arrests were made in different locations in the French Basque region, according to Askatasuna, a group defending jailed ETA activists.

The detainees were taken to a police station in Bayonne. Police searched several addresses.