- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

Kidnapping leaders killed in operation

KABUL — Police killed three Taliban commanders who were said to have been involved in the abduction of 23 South Koreans two months ago, the Interior Ministry said.

The police operation took place Friday in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province, where insurgents seized the 23 South Koreans on July 19, the Interior Ministry said.

“The commanders who were killed during this operation were directly involved in the kidnapping case of the Korean hostages,” the ministry said yesterday. It did not provide further details.

MEXICO

Arizona tourists in fatal bus crash

MEXICO CITY — A bus carrying tourists who arrived on a flight from Phoenix crashed yesterday in western Mexico, killing at least 17 persons, the bus company and Red Cross officials said.

The Vallarta Plus bus was carrying 35 passengers from Puerto Vallarta when it plunged into a ravine about 125 miles short of Guadalajara, the state police director said. At least 13 were injured.

A Vallarta Plus spokesman said as many as half of the passengers had been on a flight from Phoenix that was rerouted to Puerto Vallarta on Friday because of a fire at the Guadalajara airport.

FRANCE

Arctic ice recedes to record low

PARIS — Arctic ice coverage receded last week to record lows, the European Space Agency said, raising the prospect of greater maritime traffic through a long-sought waterway known as the Northwest Passage.

The passage was expected to remain closed even during reduced ice cover by multiyear ice pack — sea ice that remains through one or more summers, the Paris-based agency said on its Web site.

Satellite images last week showed Arctic ice cover fell to the lowest level since scientists started collecting such data in 1978. Ice has retreated to about 1 million square miles, Leif Toudal Pedersen, of the Danish National Space Center, said.

TAIWAN

100,000 rally for U.N. entry

KAOHSIUNG — More than 100,000 Taiwanese rallied yesterday to demand the United Nations accept the island as a member, the most important step yet in the government-orchestrated campaign to emphasize its separation from mainland China.

The demonstration in the southern city of Kaohsiung gave ballast to President Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence policies, and defied threats from China.

The rally was called to back a planned referendum on membership in the world body under the name Taiwan, rather than the official title of the Republic of China. Taiwanese U.N. membership would still need approval by the Security Council, where China would almost certainly wield its veto.

VENEZUELA

Government cooks record pot of soup

CARACAS — Venezuelan officials claimed a world record yesterday for making the largest pot of soup, a giant cauldron of stew prepared by President Hugo Chavez’s government.

The stainless steel cooking pot, set up outdoors in downtown Caracas, contained about 3,960 gallons of “sancocho” stew, Food Minister Rafael Oropeza said. That would dwarf the current record-holder listed on the Guinness World Records Web site, a pot of 1,413 gallons of spicy soup prepared in July in Durango.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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