- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

FRANCE

Muslims on trial for torture killing

PARIS | A self-proclaimed “gang of barbarians” accused of kidnapping a young Jewish man in a Paris suburb, torturing him for 24 days and killing him went on trial Wednesday.

The death of Ilan Halimi, 23, in 2006 horrified France and came to symbolize a rise in anti-Semitic violence in its poor, multi-ethnic suburbs.

The leader of the “barbarians,” Youssouf Fofana, smirked at Mr. Halimi’s relatives and shouted “Allahu akbar!” (“God is Great!” in Arabic) at them as he entered the courtroom.

Among the 26 other defendants are the girl who is reported to have been used as bait to capture Mr. Halimi and young men accused of taking part in the abduction and guarding the captive.

GERMANY

Holder presses Europe on Gitmo

BERLIN | The United States and its allies must make sacrifices to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday in a high-profile appeal for Europe’s help.

Mr. Holder spoke to the American Academy of Berlin, not long after telling reporters that the United States had approved the release of about 30 Guantanamo detainees.

There are 241 inmates at the facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Mr. Holder spent the past several days privately asking leaders in London, Prague and Berlin for help relocating those the U.S. wants to set free.

CUBA

Raul Castro: Obama not doing enough

HAVANA | Raul Castro has dismissed President Obama’s policy changes toward Cuba as “minimal” and says it is up to the U.S. - not Cuba - to do more to improve relations.

The Obama administration recently allowed unlimited travel and money transfers for Americans with family in Cuba and eased restrictions on telecommunications.

The Cuban president says the U.S. steps were, “fine, positive but only achieve the minimum. The embargo remains intact.”

PAKISTAN

Progress claimed battling Taliban

ISLAMABAD | The Pakistani army said Wednesday that it has retaken the main town in a district near the capital after air strikes killed dozens of Taliban fighters in a fierce struggle, while the militants took over police stations and kidnapped more than 50 security forces.

One member of the security forces also died.

Government forces are trying to force the Taliban back into the Swat Valley, from where they had pushed out in the direction of an increasingly nervous Islamabad under the cover of a controversial peace process.

Also Wednesday, a suspected U.S. missile killed at least five suspected militants in South Waziristan tribal region near Afghanistan, while shootouts in Karachi killed at least 20 people.

TURKEY

Bomb kills nine soldiers

ISTANBUL | A roadside bomb killed nine Turkish soldiers in an armored personnel carrier Wed-nesday in southeastern Turkey, making it the deadliest attack by suspected Kurdish rebels in six months, officials said.

In a separate ambush near the border with Iraq, guerrillas fatally shot a Turkish soldier, local media reported.

Officials suggested both attacks were done by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has been fighting since 1984 for more autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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