- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2004

AFGHANISTAN

Five aid workers killed in ambush

KABUL — Three foreign aid workers and two Afghans were fatally shot yesterday in an ambush in northwestern Afghanistan, a senior police official said.

The attack occurred in Khair Khana, a village in Badghis province, 340 miles west of the capital, Kabul. An official for international aid group Doctors Without Borders, which runs several clinics in Badghis, could not confirm any deaths.

ISRAEL

Sharon vows to push Gaza-pullout plan

JERUSALEM — Armed with a fresh White House endorsement for his Gaza Strip pullout plan, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed yesterday to push it past rebellious ministers and evacuate all settlements in the territory by next year.

Mr. Sharon is battling a political crisis that threatens to bring down his government. He needs to win Cabinet approval on Sunday for an initiative, supported by most Israelis, to give up the territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

He is facing off against rebels, led by his rival and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who oppose a plan already rejected by Mr. Sharon’s Likud Party as rewarding “Palestinian terror.”

“The plan will pass Sunday,” Mr. Sharon told reporters after a parliamentary security committee session.

ALGERIA

Military convoy hit by insurgents

ALGIERS — Insurgents ambushed a military convoy in eastern Algeria last night, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding 45, medical officials said. It was the deadliest such attack this year.

The attack apparently was carried out by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which is known to operate in the region, about 160 miles east of the capital, Algiers. The group is thought to have links to terror network al Qaeda.

The convoy was returning from a cleanup operation when it was set upon by an armed group, witnesses said.

Algeria’s official APS news agency reported the attack, but provided no casualty figures.

RUSSIA

Putin likely to skip NATO summit

BRUSSELS — Russian President Vladimir Putin has shunned an invitation to attend a NATO summit with President Bush in Turkey this month, a senior NATO diplomat said yesterday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to attend instead, the diplomat said. A NATO spokesman said discussions were still going on with Moscow, and that the alliance had not been officially notified whether Mr. Putin would attend.

The disclosure was another blow to an event for which ambitions already have been scaled down with the decision not to invite Arab states and with no prospect of an agreement on a direct military role for NATO in Iraq.

NEPAL

King reappoints leader fired in 2002

KATMANDU — Nepal’s King Gyanendra reappointed Sher Bahadur Deuba prime minister yesterday, the man the king sacked in 2002, provoking a political crisis in a country already reeling from a bloody Maoist revolt.

Mr. Deuba will be sworn in today. The appointment came more than three weeks after royalist Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned in the face of daily protests in the capital, Katmandu, organized by political parties calling for a return to multiparty democracy.

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