- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban threaten spring offensive

KABUL — A car bomb exploded yesterday in a farmers market in southern Afghanistan, killing eight civilians, as the Taliban warned it will use new techniques and draw on years of fighting experience to increase attacks this spring.

The police chief of Helmand province said the bombing in the Gereshk district also wounded 17 persons, including five children.

The Taliban frequently target Afghan and international security forces, but this year have increased their attacks against civilians as well. A statement Tuesday attributed to Taliban senior commander Mullah Bradar threatened more attacks this spring using new techniques, and also warned Afghans working with the government to quit their jobs or risk being targeted.

ISRAEL

Palestinian wanted in hotel bomb held

JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers yesterday arrested the reputed Hamas mastermind of the bloodiest suicide bombing of the Palestinian uprising, an attack that killed 30 people and wounded 143 others during a Passover dinner celebration in 2002, the army said.

Omar Jabar planned the attack and dispatched the suicide bomber to the hotel in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, the military said. He was arrested early yesterday in the West Bank, the army said.

FRANCE

Church group backs dialogue with Islam

PARIS — The World Council of Churches, which groups the main non-Catholic Christian churches, urged its members yesterday to open a dialogue with Muslim scholars seeking interfaith cooperation to promote justice and peace.

The Geneva-based WCC said it wanted to organize discussions on theology and ethics with signatories of A Common Word, a call for Christian-Muslim dialogue issued by 138 Islamic scholars last October and welcomed by many Christian churches.

SYRIA

Egypt snubs Arab summit

DAMASCUS — Egypt plans to send a junior minister to the upcoming Arab summit in Damascus, effectively snubbing a meeting which is usually attended by heads of state, officials and media said yesterday.

Tension is running high ahead of the March 29-30 summit over a political crisis in Lebanon that has prevented rival parties from electing a new president. Egypt says Syria had not done enough to resolve the Lebanese crisis.

Egypt is the second major Arab country that is planning to send a low-level representative to the summit. Analysts say Syria is facing diplomatic isolation by Saudi Arabia and Egypt for its alliance with Iran in a regional jockeying for power against the United States.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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