- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

Bomb that killed 14 targeted U.S. convoy

GARDEZ — A suicide bomber apparently targeting a U.S. convoy killed 14 persons and wounded 31 in a crowded eastern Afghan market yesterday, witnesses and officials said.

The powerful explosion in the city of Gardez damaged about 30 shops, shattering windows and destroying the closest stores.

Witnesses said a U.S. convoy appeared to be the target. Maj. William Mitchell, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said there were initial reports of injuries to ISAF soldiers, but he didn’t have any other details.

ROMANIA

President survives impeachment bid

BUCHAREST — The European Commission urged Romania yesterday to resume anti-graft reforms after official results confirmed President Traian Basescu easily repelled parliament’s attempt to impeach him in a referendum.

Returns from 92 percent of the polling stations showed 74 percent of Romanians voted Saturday against impeaching Mr. Basescu on charges that he overstepped his authority.

His victory comes after a bruising battle with parliament and the government of Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu, whom Mr. Basescu has accused of slowing reforms Romania committed to when it joined the European Union in January.

CHINA

Moon orbit launch planned this year

BEIJING — China plans to launch a lunar orbiter in the second half of 2007 in a first step toward a lunar probe, Xinhua news agency quoted the director of the National Space Administration as saying yesterday.

If the Chang’e I orbiter succeeds in orbiting the moon, the next step would be an attempt to land. Ultimately, a moon rover would collect samples before returning to Earth, Sun Laiyan said in a speech at Beijing Jiaotong University.

“The moon probe project is … a first step for us in exploring deep space,” Mr. Sun said. The moon rover mission would be due in 2012.

AUSTRALIA

Al Qaeda supporter home from Gitmo

SYDNEY — David Hicks, the first inmate at the Guantanamo Bay detention center to face a U.S. military tribunal, was flown back to his hometown in Australia yesterday to serve out the remainder of his sentence in a maximum security prison cell.

The former outback cowboy and kangaroo skinner pleaded guilty in March to providing material support to al Qaeda, including attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Under a plea deal, he was sentenced to nine months in prison — a fraction of the life term he could have received — and was allowed to return to Australia to serve out his term.

EAST TIMOR

Nobel laureate becomes president

DILI — Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor’s newly elected president, took the oath of office at a simple ceremony in Dili yesterday as fresh violence erupted in the troubled country.

Mr. Ramos-Horta, who spent years abroad as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesian occupation, succeeds Xanana Gusmao after winning nearly 70 percent of the votes in a May 9 election runoff.

His victory has raised hopes of greater stability in a nation still struggling to heal divisions five years after it won independence from Indonesia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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