- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

EGYPT

Al-Zawahri video urges jihad unity

CAIRO — Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda’s No. 2, has issued a new videotape calling on Muslims to unite in jihad, or holy war, and support the Islamist movement in Iraq, a U.S.-based intelligence-monitoring group said yesterday.

The Egyptian-born extremist is seen in the 1 hour, 35 minute-long tape dressed in white and addressing topics from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories and Egypt, said the U.S.-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors al Qaeda messages. The authenticity of the transcript could not be immediately verified.

In the tape, al-Zawahri encourages Iraqis and Muslims in general to show greater support for the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda insurgent front in the country, even though it lacks “necessary qualifications,” the SITE group quoted al-Zawahri as saying.

IRAQ

Oil bill snarled as factions argue

BAGHDAD — Attempts to pass a key oil law sought by the U.S. were snarled once more yesterday by deep differences among Iraq’s Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders, delaying parliamentary debate despite the prime minister’s claims of a breakthrough.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has struggled for months to get members of his coalition together behind the bill, part of a long-delayed political package the Bush administration hopes will reconcile Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority with the government, reduce support for the insurgency and ease the country’s violence.

Parliament failed to start debate on the bill yesterday, despite Mr. al-Maliki’s announcement the day before that it would. Sunni and Kurdish members of his coalition rejected the measure, despite Mr. al-Maliki’s claim a day earlier that the Cabinet had approved the bill unanimously.

AFGHANISTAN

Canadians killed by roadside bomb

KANDAHAR — A roadside bomb tore through a NATO vehicle yesterday, killing six Canadian soldiers and their Afghan interpreter in a southern region of Afghanistan that has seen recent heavy fighting, officials said.

The blast in Kandahar province’s Zhari district raised the number of foreign soldiers killed in the country this year to at least 102, officials said. Brig. Gen. Tim Grant, the head of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, said the six slain troops were Canadian.

The attack was the deadliest against foreign troops in Afghanistan since May 13, when seven troops were killed — five Americans, a Canadian and a Briton — in a crash of their Chinook helicopter in Helmand province.

COLOMBIA

Rebels release video of hostages

BOGOTA — Colombian rebels released a video showing seven kidnapped police officers and soldiers — some of whom have spent nearly a decade in captivity — pleading for the government and rebels to negotiate their freedom.

The video was made by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and given to the news channel Al Jazeera, according to Colombia’s RCN news, which played clips Tuesday night.

“In the camps, I have met with many prisoners of war and some detained politicians like [former presidential candidate] Ingrid Betancourt and Mrs. Clara Rojas and a little boy that goes everywhere with them,” soldier Giovanni Dominguez said in the video. He was almost certainly referring to 3-year-old Emmanuel, a child Mrs. Rojas is believed to have had with one of her captors.

RWANDA

Ex-major convicted in 1994 genocide

BRUSSELS — A jury yesterday found a former Rwandan major guilty of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 10 Belgian peacekeepers on U.N. duty at the start of the Rwandan genocide 13 years ago.

The 12 jurors, however, did not find the Rwandan, Bernard Ntuyahaga, responsible for the killing of then-Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingiyimana, whom the Belgian peacekeepers were protecting. The killings of the peacekeepers and the prime minister touched off Rwanda’s genocide, a 100-day killing spree during which radical Hutus slaughtered an estimated 500,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis.

NORTH KOREA

Heavy oil en route after nuclear accord

SEOUL — North Korea will receive its first promised shipment of energy aid next week, South Korea said yesterday, a day after Pyongyang’s reclusive leader urged progress in a deal to dismantle his country’s nuclear programs.

In his first official remarks on the long-delayed pact, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was paraphrased as telling China’s foreign minister that “all the parties should implement the initial actions” of a disarmament agreement reached in February, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

Under the deal governing the shutdown of the North’s Yongbyon reactor — agreed to by the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — Seoul promised to send 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to Pyongyang.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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