- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 30, 2005

KUWAIT

Three killed in al Qaeda gunbattle

KUWAIT CITY — A security officer and an Islamic militant were killed in a gunbattle in Kuwait yesterday, the latest clash in the oil-rich Persian Gulf state facing a surge in al Qaeda-linked violence.

The shootout, in which a bystander from Bahrain also died, erupted when special forces raided a residential building where militants thought to be loyal to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were hiding.

It was the third clash with militants this month in Kuwait, a U.S. ally that controls 10 percent of global oil reserves. Four policemen and a militant were wounded in the fight, and two militants were arrested, the Interior Ministry said.

SPAIN

Explosive device hits seaside hotel

MADRID — An explosive device blew up in a seaside hotel in southeastern Spain yesterday, injuring at least one person, after a warning call in the name of the Basque separatist group ETA, officials said.

The device had been hidden in a backpack and left on a patio in the 280-room hotel, but the building was evacuated before it exploded, an Interior Ministry source said.

Local police said two persons had been injured, but the ministry said later that the only injury at the hotel, where 160 persons were staying, had been a guest whose eardrums were damaged.

BRAZIL

Chavez, Uribe to meet over kidnapping crisis

PORTO ALEGRE — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said yesterday that a resolution to a diplomatic dispute between Venezuela and Colombia might come at a meeting between the two countries’ presidents this week.

Mr. Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe are scheduled to meet Thursday in Venezuela to discuss the abduction of Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel Rodrigo Granda last month by Venezuelan army bounty hunters paid by Colombia.

The incident caused Mr. Chavez to recall his ambassador from Bogota and freeze bilateral relations to protest what he called a violation of his country’s sovereignty.

ISRAEL

Report says outposts received illegal funds

JERUSALEM — A government-sponsored report shows Israeli settlers at more than 120 unauthorized hilltop outposts in the West Bank have received illegal state funding and services for 10 years, an Israeli newspaper said yesterday.

Under the “road map” peace plan, Israel must remove dozens of unauthorized West Bank outposts that began springing up in 1993 to protest the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal signed that year.

Only a few have been removed in operations that often have sparked clashes between settlers and government forces.

AFGHANISTAN

Authorities to collect U.S.-made Stingers

KABUL — Authorities are starting a new push to collect U.S.-made Stinger missiles distributed to Afghans fighting Soviet troops in the 1980s in an effort to keep the weapons from terrorists and governments — including Iran, an Afghan official said yesterday.

The Afghan intelligence service is offering to buy the anti-aircraft missiles for an undisclosed sum, taking up a CIA program to recover weapons given to Islamic fundamentalists who battled the Soviets alongside Osama bin Laden in the 1980s.

The CIA in the 1980s supplied an estimated 2,000 Stingers to mujahideen rebels.

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