- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2001

Muslims slaughter Hindus in Kashmir
SRINAGAR, India — Authorities suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage in the Himalayas after Islamic militants attacked devotees with hand grenades yesterday, killing 14 persons in the troubled province of Jammu-Kashmir, police said.
Seven pilgrims, two police officers guarding the route, four porters and one militant dressed as a Hindu priest in saffron-colored robes, were killed, said an officer at the police control room, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The government immediately halted the pilgrimage, and it was not clear if the pilgrims would be allowed to resume their journey later.

Stampede kills 10 at Japan festival
TOKYO — Thousands of revelers leaving a fireworks display surged onto a crowded pedestrian bridge in western Japan last night, and the crush killed at least 10 persons, including several children, and injured about 90.
People were packed on the overpass outside the railway station in Akashi, a city about 400 miles southwest of Tokyo, said Masafumi Oshita, police spokesman in Hyogo Prefecture.
The accident came at a high point in the Japanese summer festival season, when thousands throng shrines for raucous celebrations or gather under night skies for elaborate fireworks displays.

Floods devastate northwest Iran
TEHRAN — Flash floods triggered by torrential rain and hailstorms have left at least 30 people dead and 100 injured in northwest Iran, state media and hospital officials said yesterday.
Aid workers were delivering food, medicine and blankets to three of the hardest hit villages in Ardebil province, said Ebadollah Kaamkar, governor of Meshginshahr, a city near the affected area.

Taliban vows to protect bin Laden
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A diplomat representing Afghanistan's Taliban rulers said suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden should be praised for his services to Afghanistan and vowed never to deliver him to the United States, a news agency reported.
"Osama is our benefactor and a holy warrior," Abdul Salam Zaeef told Pakistani religious students yesterday in Abbottbad in northwestern Pakistan, according to the News Network International.
Mr, Zaeef, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, said handing bin Laden over would betray "our sacrifices," referring to the Islamic insurgency against the invading Soviet Union in 1979. "Osama's protection is our moral and Islamic duty."

Murderer dampens Australia tourism
SYDNEY, Australia — Tourism officials shuddered last week at television images of heavily armed police scouring the barren Australian Outback for a gunman suspected of murdering a British backpacker.
Police yesterday released an artist's impression of the vehicle the gunman was driving a custom-made four-wheel-drive pickup truck — in an effort to jog the memory of potential witnesses who may have seen it.
Peter Falconio, 28, was driving along the remote Stuart Highway with his girlfriend Joanne Lees, 27, when a motorist signaled them to stop before apparently shooting Mr. Falconio and tying up Miss Lees in an unprovoked attack.
Miss Lees, who also is British, managed to flee. She told police she hid in darkness in the desert for six hours as the gunman stalked her with his dog and a flashlight.

First lady dines in Tuscany
ROME — In the latest stop of her Italian tour, first lady Laura Bush supped and shopped yesterday in Tuscany — enjoying the intense flavors, vibrant colors and some of the wares offered in the region.
Mrs. Bush sampled some Tuscan cuisine in a trattoria nestled in the foothills of the Apennine mountains.
She also toured the neighboring town of San Gimignano, where she purchased some pottery she plans to give as gifts.
"If she hadn't had the paparazzi behind her, she would have seemed like just a normal person," said Becky Benefiel, a tourist from Seattle who spotted the first lady.

Beijing fuels worries over Hong Kong
HONG KONG — Spurring new worries about Hong Kong's independent legal system, Beijing said yesterday it disagreed with a judgment from the territory's top court granting residency to a boy born here to a mainland Chinese mother.
The Hong Kong government said it viewed the ruling as disappointing but final. Officials said they had no plans to ask Beijing to overrule the court — as they did once in 1999 to the dismay of Hong Kong lawyers and human rights activists.
Nevertheless, Beijing's statement set off jitters among political opposition figures who fear Hong Kong's western-style freedoms and legal system — leftovers from British colonial days — are being eroded.

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