- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2008

IRAQ

Car bomb kills 32 north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD | A car bomb ripped through a crowded commercial district in a mainly Shi’ite town Friday, killing at least 32 people, Iraqi officials said.

The explosion in Dujail, which wounded 43 others, was apparently targeting a police station but instead badly damaged a nearby medical clinic, according to police. Concrete barriers largely protected the police station, the officials said.

The blast took place about 50 yards from the police station in an area packed with shoppers preparing for Iftar, the daily meal at which Muslims break their sunrise-to-sunset fast during the holy month of Ramadan. A police officer said four policemen were among the 32 dead.

THAILAND

Ousted prime minister drops return bid

BANGKOK | Thailand’s ousted prime minister has abandoned his bid for re-election and will give up his leadership of the country’s ruling party, an aide said Friday.

The announcements came after Samak Sundarvej’s People’s Power Party announced earlier it was abandoning its bid to reinstall Mr. Samak. That surprise decision was a clear sign that Mr. Samak was seen by the ruling party as a liability.

A Constitutional Court dismissed Mr. Samak Tuesday for violating a conflict-of-interest law by hosting two television cooking shows while in office.

His aide, Teerapon Noprampa, said Mr. Samak has decided to resign as head of the ruling party and will not contest a parliamentary vote Wednesday to be re-elected prime minister.

SAUDI ARABIA

Fatwa allows killing of TV owners

RIYADH | Saudi Arabia’s top judiciary official has issued a religious decree, or fatwa, saying it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV networks that broadcast immoral content.

The 79-year-old Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan said Thursday that satellite channels cause the “deviance of thousands of people.”

Many of the most popular Arab satellite networks - which include channels showing music videos often denounced as obscene by Muslim conservatives - are owned by Saudi princes and well-connected Saudi businessmen. Sheik al-Lihedan did not specify any particular channels.

Sheik al-Lihedan was answering listeners’ questions during the daily “Light in the Path” radio program when one caller asked about Islam’s view of the owners of satellite TV channels that show “bad programs” during Ramadan.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban ambush convoy, 15 killed

KABUL | Taliban militants attacked a logistics convoy in western Afghanistan on Friday, sparking a clash that killed 10 insurgents and five Afghan guards, an official said. Another 10 militants were killed by U.S.-led coalition troops north of Kabul.

The militants attacked the convoy in the western Farah province, said Farah’s Gov. Roohulla Amin. In the ensuing gunfight with the guards protecting the trucks, 10 militants and five Afghan private security guards were killed, Mr. Amin said.

Three other guards were missing following the clash, believed captured by the Taliban, he said.

CHINA

13 mine officials held after landslide

XIANGFEN | Authorities have detained 13 officials of a mine whose dump site collapsed to trigger a landslide that blanketed a village and killed at least 178 people in northern China, state media said Friday.

The death toll could still rise as rescue workers comb through 74 acres of sludge and mining waste covering the area, where hundreds more people could be buried. The workers have covered about 90 percent of the area, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the rescue headquarters.

The landslide Monday in Shanxi province’s Xiangfen county was triggered when the retaining wall of a mining dump containing tons of liquid iron-ore waste collapsed, inundating the village of 1,300 residents and an outdoor market with hundreds of patrons in a matter of minutes.

GEORGIA

Russia blocking monitors, OSCE says

VIENNA, Austria | Russian forces and their separatist militia allies are keeping international monitors out of South Ossetia, according to confidential OSCE documents that cast doubts on hopes for a lasting resolution of the war over the breakaway region.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe documents obtained Friday by the Associated Press say Russian troops stopped some observers from entering South Ossetia as recently as two days ago. Other Western diplomats warned that Moscow is also blocking attempts to quadruple the size of the observer mission.

The European Union has been racing to prepare a separate mission of 200 unarmed observers for Georgia by Oct. 1. Under an agreement brokered this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russia would withdraw its forces from Georgian areas outside of South Ossetia and the separatist Abkhazia region after the EU observers are in place.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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