- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

ISRAEL

Top al-Aqsa leader killed in Nablus raid

NABLUS, West Bank — Israel has dealt its heaviest blow to a key militant group within Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, killing its most senior West Bank commander.

Israeli troops shot and killed Nayef Abu Sharkh and five other Palestinian gunmen yesterday during an ambush on their hideout in a house in Nablus, a militant stronghold. It was the deadliest raid into the West Bank in months.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade vowed revenge.

Also among the dead were two lower-ranking local leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.

INDIA

Suspected rebels kill 12 in Kashmir

JAMMU — Suspected Islamic rebels raided a village yesterday in Indian-controlled Kashmir and shot to death 12 Muslims while they slept, police said. The raid came a day before talks between India and Pakistan on easing tensions in the Himalayan region.

A woman and a 3-year-old were among the dead in the village of Surankot, but most of those killed were members of a military-trained local village security force often targeted for helping government forces.

Elsewhere, some 50 men and women were trapped inside a mosque for two hours during a gunfight between security forces and suspected Islamic militants in the village of Litter, 40 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prime minister quits after EU vote loss

PRAGUE — Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla resigned yesterday, becoming the first leader of an European Union country to pay for a dismal showing in European Parliament elections this month.

Mr. Spidla narrowly survived a no-confidence vote by his Social Democratic Party earlier in the day, but only because critics opposed to economic-austerity measures fell just short of a required three-fifths majority to remove him. The last straw came when the party voted it was dissatisfied with his coalition.

The resignation by Mr. Spidla, who helped steer the Czech Republic to EU membership on May 1, will automatically trigger the fall of the Cabinet, which also includes the centrist Christian Democrats and the right-wing Freedom Union.

EGYPT

Mubarak’s surgery called successful

CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had successful back surgery in Germany yesterday and has been moved into the recovery room, state television reported.

Uncertainty over Mr. Mubarak’s health has caused concern in Egypt, where the 76-year-old had not appointed a vice president, the usual route to power. He has delegated his duties to Prime Minister Atef Obeid during his absence.

The German specialist treating the president told the television channel that the physiotherapy Mr. Mubarak had been undergoing for a slipped disc had not relieved the pain as quickly as he had expected, so he had advised Mr. Mubarak to have an operation.

GERMANY

Thousands parade for homosexual rights

BERLIN — Hundreds of thousands of revelers wearing everything from full Victorian garb to skimpy leather outfits and feather boas celebrated homosexual pride in Germany’s capital yesterday in one of Europe’s largest parades marking Christopher Street Day.

Berlin’s homosexual mayor, Klaus Wowereit, led 53 colorful floats in the 12th annual celebration commemorating the start of the movement in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1969. Police estimated that about 200,000 people participated.

The march in Paris took on an even more political tone, coming three weeks after the mayor of Begles, near Bordeaux, celebrated the first same-sex “marriage” in France and was suspended for a month for defying authorities.

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