- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2007

GERMANY

Italians executed by Mafia hit men

DUISBURG — Six Italian men were fatally shot in the German city of Duisburg early yesterday in an execution-style killing linked to a Mafia feud.

All the victims were shot in the head. Five of them were ages 16 to 25 and the other was 38.

The brazen attack in a foreign country is unprecedented, said Italian investigators, who fear a bloody riposte by victims’ relatives in keeping with the tradition of vendetta.

German police confirmed that the victims were Italians from the Calabria area.

PAKISTAN

Boucher praises Pakistani efforts

ISLAMABAD — U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher praised Pakistan’s efforts at fighting terrorism yesterday and reaffirmed Washington’s desire to develop long-term strategic relations with Islamabad, the Foreign Ministry said.

Mr. Boucher held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri in the capital yesterday, and was due to meet with President Pervez Musharraf before leaving today.

Mr. Boucher is visiting as U.S. pressure increases on Gen. Musharraf to do more to fight militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, where American intelligence officials say al Qaeda and the Taliban may be regrouping. Gen. Musharraf also faces political crises as he seeks another presidential term.

IRAN

Chinese detained on spying charges

TEHRAN — Iran has detained two Chinese nationals on charges of spying on its military and nuclear facilities, state radio reported yesterday.

The Islamic republic has made a series of similar accusations against Westerners in recent years but none against China, with which it enjoys good relations.

“The Chinese nationals were detained while taking photos and recording video of a military complex in Arak city,” the radio quoted Ali Reza Jamshidi, spokesman of Iran’s judiciary, as saying. “They entered Iran through Kish Island as tourists.”

Kish is a resort island and free-trade area off the southern coast of Iran.

AFGHANISTAN

Tora Bora revisited by American troops

BAGRAM — Hundreds of U.S.-led troops have begun an offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban militants in an area of eastern Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden once hid, officials said yesterday.

A bomb attack near Kabul, meanwhile, killed three German police officers assigned to protect their country’s embassy.

Ground troops and air strikes are targeting “hundreds of foreign fighters” dug into positions in the Tora Bora region of eastern Nangahar province, said U.S. Army Capt. Vanessa Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman. She did not say when the operation began or how long it was expected to last.

NETHERLANDS

Catholic bishop: Call God ‘Allah’

THE HAGUE — A Dutch Catholic bishop who once said the hungry were entitled to steal bread and advocated condom use to prevent AIDS has made headlines again, this time by saying God should be called Allah.

“Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will call God Allah?” Bishop Tiny Muskens said in an interview broadcast this week. “God doesn’t care what we call Him.”

NORTH KOREA

Destroyed farmland threatens food supply

SEOUL — Severe floods have destroyed more than a tenth of North Korea’s farmland at the height of the growing season, official news outlets said yesterday in reports that appeared to be a cry for outside help from the normally secretive regime.

Aid officials fear the loss of cropland, if confirmed, could seriously hinder the North’s ability to feed its people.

The country has suffered from famine since the mid-1990s because of natural disasters, outdated farming methods and the loss of support from Moscow after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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