- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

IRAQ

Syria flights halted; Iran border closed

BAGHDAD — Iraq indefinitely halted all flights to and from Syria and closed a border crossing with Iran as the government prepares for a security crackdown aimed at crushing violence in the capital and surrounding regions, a member of parliament and an airport official said yesterday.

The airport official said that flights to and from Syria would be canceled for at least two weeks and that service had been interrupted on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, car bombs struck mostly Shi’ite targets in Baghdad yesterday, and the bodies of three Sunni professors and a student were found days after they were seized while leaving their campus in a Shi’ite part of the city. At least 43 persons, including a U.S. soldier, were reported killed across Iraq.

GUATEMALA

Nobel winner Menchu eyes presidential bid

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s Maya Indian Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu said yesterday that she may run for president this year in a bid to become the second indigenous head of state in Latin America after Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Miss Menchu, who grew up speaking no Spanish and is a defender of Maya Indian victims of Guatemala’s bloody 1960-96 civil war, said several political parties had asked her to run as president or vice president in the Sept. 9 election.

“We are seriously considering the proposals,” she told reporters after marking the death of her father and more than 30 other human rights activists in a Jan. 31, 1980, government raid.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Bin Laden’s relative killed in Madagascar

DUBAI — A brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, who is wanted in the Philippines on suspicion of terrorism financing, was killed in Madagascar in what appeared to be a burglary, the victim’s brother said yesterday.

Jamal Khalifa, who was married to a sister of the al Qaeda leader, was killed when gunmen broke into his house in a Madagascan village on Tuesday, his brother Malek Khalifa said from his home in Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

The Philippine government had sought Jamal Khalifa, who mined and traded precious stones in Madagascar, on suspicion of financing the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist militant group, but the suspect reportedly denied this.

The United States named him an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York and arrested him the next year on a visa violation in San Francisco. But he was deported without standing trial.

SRI LANKA

Rebels suspected in police bus attack

COLOMBO — Tamil Tiger rebels are suspected in a bombing of a police bus in east Sri Lanka yesterday that killed 11 persons, the military said.

The attack outside a university in the restive Batticaloa district occurred after the government vowed to wipe out the Tigers militarily.

Six policemen, two soldiers and a civilian were killed, and 13 persons were injured. Two bodies were yet to be identified, officials said.

ITALY

Wife wrings apology from Berlusconi

ROME — Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi bowed yesterday to his wife’s demand for a public apology for sexist quips to younger women, saying, “The temptation to give in to you is strong. I can’t resist.”

Earlier in the day, Veronica Berlusconi had published an open letter in a leading newspaper after failing to extract a private apology for his comments at a TV awards dinner last week.

“If I wasn’t already married, I would marry you right away,” Mr. Berlusconi had told some women at the dinner.

Mrs. Berlusconi, his second wife and mother of three of his children, said his comments had belittled her.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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