- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

EUROPEAN UNION

Voter turnout low in new EU states

ROME — Low turnout figures for European elections in the Czech Republic and Latvia suggested apathy is a problem with the European Union’s new as well as old members as three more states voted yesterday in the 25-nation vote.

By yesterday, seven countries had voted or begun voting in the election that is staggered over four days, with the rest due to cast ballots today for the European Parliament.

In the Czech Republic, which joined the bloc last month, only about one in four voters turned out. In Latvia, the first ex-Soviet republic to vote in an EU election, officials said they hoped for 60 percent by close of polls.

Italians cast ballots yesterday with their government’s pro-U.S. stance weighing on their minds. Voters in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Latvia handed victories to opposition parties.

ITALY

3 U.S. soldiers die in car crash

NAPLES — Three members of the U.S. military were killed in a car crash on the outskirts of Naples yesterday, police said.

One man and two women were killed and two other women escaped with serious injuries from the burned-out wreckage of a private car in which they were traveling toward the nearby U.S. Navy base at Capodichino.

Police said there was no other vehicle involved in the accident. A Pentagon spokesman said he could not confirm the incident.

IRAQ

U.S. frees journalists held for bomb traces

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military has released four journalists who were detained after explosives residue was found on them as they tried to enter the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, an Army spokesman said yesterday.

Top military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit said two Iraqis and two Turks were arrested June 7 after sniffer dogs found the residue. They were released four days later.

A U.S. military official said last week that explosives had also been discovered in the journalists’ hotel room. Gen. Kimmitt denied that report.

RUSSIA

Independence Day by another name

MOSCOW — Dancers twirled and soldiers in period uniforms stomped through Red Square under a massive two-headed eagle — the revived czarist national symbol — as the country celebrated itself yesterday with an elaborate parade marking the Day of Russia.

Formerly known as Independence Day, the holiday marks the Russian parliament’s June 12, 1990, declaration of sovereignty from the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin, who led Russia’s independence drive and was elected president on the same day in 1991, created the holiday 11 years ago. But Russia’s independence meant the breakup of the Soviet Union — an event most Russians regret and President Vladimir Putin recently called an enormous national tragedy. Thus, the holiday has been renamed and transformed into a celebration of Russia itself and the fragile unity of the huge, ethnically diverse country.

INDIA

Hotel blast kills 4 tourists in Kashmir

SRINAGAR — Four persons died and 22 were injured when militants threw a grenade into a hotel packed with tourists in Indian Kashmir yesterday, police said.

Another 20 persons were wounded in a separate grenade attack in another part of Kashmir, also blamed on militants fighting Indian rule in the troubled Himalayan region.

The victims, including an 8-year-old girl, were Indians, a police official said. A little-known group, Al-Nasreen, claimed responsibility for the blast at Hotel Purnima in Pahalgam, a popular tourist town.

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