- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

PAKISTAN

Suicide attack kills 5 troops

ISLAMABAD — A suicide bomber attacked a military checkpoint yesterday in North Waziristan, killing five government soldiers about two miles from the scene of a U.S. missile attack that had killed a top al Qaeda commander, officials said.

It was not clear whether the attack was in retaliation for the missile strike against Abu Laith al-Libi, whose death was reported Thursday on Islamic extremist Web sites and confirmed by an American official.

GERMANY

U.S. snubbed on Afghan force

BERLIN — Germany yesterday rejected a call from the United States to send combat troops to dangerous parts of southern Afghanistan and said there were no plans to change its deployment of troops in the less-violent north.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had written a strongly worded letter to Germany and other NATO members urging them to send 3,200 extra troops to Afghanistan in his latest effort to boost support for U.S. soldiers.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said he did not envisage any change to the parliamentary mandate that allows Germany to send 3,500 troops to northern Afghanistan as part of the 40,000-strong NATO International Security Assistance Force.

TAIWAN

U.N. referendums scheduled for March

TAIPEI — Taiwan will hold two separate votes on the island’s U.N. membership bid March 22, the same day as the presidential election, an election commission official said yesterday.

The move is likely to anger rival China, which has condemned Taiwan’s U.N. bid as a precursor to formal independence. The two referendums are proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party — which is asking voters to support the U.N. membership bid under Taiwan’s own name — and the opposition Nationalist Party, which did not specify a name.

VENEZUELA

Colombia drug lord found killed

CARACAS — One of Colombia’s most-wanted drug lords has been found slain, Venezuela’s top counter-drug official said yesterday.

Fingerprints of a man found fatally shot Wednesday in the Venezuelan city of Merida matched those of Wilber Varela, alias “Jabon,” or “Soap,” who led a war with rival traffickers that killed more than 1,000 people in recent years.

He was indicted in U.S. federal courts on drug trafficking charges in 2004, and the U.S. State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for his capture.

GERMANY

Mouth to muzzle saves tiger cub

BERLIN — A German medical student got some unexpected practical experience at the zoo when she gave the kiss of life to a baby tiger choking on a piece of meat, the zoo director said yesterday.

The student, Janine Bauer, was passing the enclosure in the eastern German city of Halle with her toddler son on a visit several weeks ago when she noticed the 4-month-old tiger choking and offered her assistance to the helpless keeper.

The zoo, which held a ceremony yesterday to thank Mrs. Bauer, has decided to call the tiger Johann, after her year-old son.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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