- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2008

Al Qaeda gaining strength, U.S. says

Al Qaeda has rebuilt some of its pre-9/11 capabilities from remote hiding places in Pakistan, leading to a major spike in attacks last year in that country and neighboring Afghanistan, the Bush administration said yesterday.

Attacks in Pakistan more than doubled from 375 to 887 between 2006 and 2007, and the number of fatalities almost quadrupled from 335 to 1,335, the State Department said in its annual terrorism report.

In Afghanistan, the number of attacks rose 16 percent, to 1,127 incidents last year, killing 1,966 people, 55 percent more than the 1,257 who died in 2006, it said.

The report said attacks in Iraq dipped slightly between 2006 and 2007, but they still accounted for 60 percent of worldwide terrorism fatalities. More than 22,000 people were killed by terrorists around the world in 2007, 8 percent more than in 2006.

IRAN

Tehran complains about Clinton remark

NEW YORK — Iran complained to the United Nations yesterday about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comment the United States could “totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.

Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council expressing Iran’s condemnation of “such a provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement.”

Mrs. Clinton made the remarks last week while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

AFGHANISTAN

Security forces raid militants’ hide-out

KABUL — Afghan security forces raided a Kabul hide-out yesterday where militants with suspected links to the attack on President Hamid Karzai were holed up, a top official said. Seven people died in the pre-dawn raid, including a child.

Militants hiding in a mud-brick house and security forces traded rocket-propelled grenades and automatic gunfire for several hours in western Kabul. Families evacuated the area as explosions reverberated and gunfire pierced the air.

TURKEY

Parliament revises limits on speech

ANKARA — Turkey’s parliament approved a long-awaited revision of a law criticized by the European Union for limiting free speech in the EU-candidate country, but writers and activists say the reform does not go far enough.

The reform to Article 301 of the penal code was approved early yesterday with 250 votes for and 65 against amid fierce criticism from the nationalist opposition.

The law has been used to prosecute hundreds of writers, including Nobel Literature laureate Orhan Pamuk, for “insulting Turkishness.”

AUSTRALIA

5 die in accident in Sydney Harbor

SYDNEY — A fishing trawler and a small boat collided before dawn today in Sydney Harbor, killing five people and injuring nine, authorities said.

The collision, which occurred in cold and dark conditions, threw all 14 people aboard the small boat into the water, said police Inspector Tony Bear.

All of the dead and injured — ages 18 to 31 — were on the small boat, which was licensed to carry eight people.

RUSSIA

Czar’s dead children identified by DNA

MOSCOW — DNA tests carried out by a U.S. laboratory prove that bone fragments exhumed last year belong to two children of Czar Nicholas II, putting to rest questions about what happened to Russia’s last royal family, a regional governor said yesterday.

Bone fragments dug up near the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg are indeed those of Crown Prince Alexei and his sister, Maria, whose remains had been missing since the family was murdered in 1918 as Russia descended into civil war.

The confirmation could end royal supporters’ persistent hopes that members of the czar’s immediate family survived the massacre.

CHINA

Children rescued from slavery

BEIJING — Chinese police have rescued 167 village children sold to work as slave laborers in a city in the booming southern province of Guangdong, newspapers said yesterday.

The children, all from the ethnic Yi minority, came from poor families in the Liangshan region of the southwestern province of Sichuan, more than 600 miles away.

From wire dispatches and staff reports