- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

IRAQ

Saddam begged for mercy, Allawi says

CAIRO — Deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is depressed and has begged the Iraqi government for mercy, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview published yesterday.

“He is distraught and depressed,” Mr. Allawi said of Saddam, who was Iraq’s president for 24 years and is awaiting trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“Saddam and his colleagues are not the giants that the media sometimes talks about. Saddam sent us an oral message in which he begged for mercy. He said that they were working in the public interest and did not mean any harm,” Mr. Allawi said in an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.

HAITI

Toll from Jeanne still mounting

GONAIVES — The death toll from Tropical Storm Jeanne rose to at least 573 yesterday as search crews recovered dozens of bodies carried away by raging weekend floods or buried by mud, officials said.

The bodies of at least 500 people killed were filling morgues in Gonaives, according to a U.N. spokesman. More than 70 others were killed elsewhere on the Caribbean island.

Floods are particularly devastating in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, because it is almost completely deforested, leaving few roots to hold back rushing waters or mud.

AFGHANISTAN

2 U.S. soldiers killed; official escapes bomb

KABUL — A deputy to U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai escaped a roadside bombing in northern Afghanistan yesterday, just four days after Mr. Karzai was targeted as he tried to hit the campaign trail for landmark Oct. 9 elections.

Nayiamatullah Shahrani, one of four Afghan vice presidents, and Urban Development Minister Gul Agha Sherzai were on their way to inspect a road project in northern Kunduz province when the explosion rocked their convoy, police said.

Two U.S. soldiers and several militants were killed in firefights with insurgents in Paktika, a lawless province in the southwest.

ISRAEL

Missile strike kills 2 Hamas men in Gaza

GAZA — An Israeli air strike killed at least two Hamas gunmen in Gaza City yesterday, a day after a top commander of the Palestinian militant group was killed in a similar attack, military officials and witnesses said.

Hospital officials said eight bystanders were hurt by the missile strike, which tore apart the gunmen’s car.

ITALY

Envoy says Bush ‘recruiting’ for Qaeda

ROME — An off-the-record comment by Britain’s ambassador to Italy, Ivor Roberts, describing President Bush as “al Qaeda’s best recruiting sergeant,” has touched off a row after being reported in Italy’s media yesterday.

Giuliano Ferrara, director of the daily Il Foglio and former spokesman for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, snubbed an invitation to the British Embassy after the envoy’s comment, made Sunday during an Italian-British cultural seminar at Pontignano, central Italy, was leaked to the press.

Britain and Italy are among Washington’s closest allies in the Iraq war.

RWANDA

Catholic priest faces genocide trial

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — A Catholic priest accused of killing Rwandans in the 1994 genocide went on trial yesterday, with prosecutors at a U.N. tribunal charging he ordered collaborators to bulldoze a church in which 2,000 Tutsis were hiding.

The Rev. Athanase Seromba, 41, is the first Catholic priest to face charges at the tribunal in connection with the genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered by Hutu extremists in 100 days.

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