- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 14, 2009

AFGHANISTAN

Children killed in crossfire

KABUL | A gunfight between Australian and Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan killed five children who were caught in the crossfire, the Australian Defense Ministry said Friday.

Afghan officials gave lower death tolls. Asadullah Hamdan, the provincial governor, said three children between 7 and 10 years old were killed.

Thursday’s fighting in southern Uruzgan province started with a raid by international and Afghan troops on compounds in a village where insurgent leaders were believed to be holed up, NATO said.

The deaths come as the newly appointed U.S. envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, tours Afghanistan. The country is still reeling from a bold Taliban assault on government buildings in the capital Wednesday. Eight assailants killed 20 people in coordinated attacks in the heart of Kabul.

CONGO

40 Hutu rebels killed in air raid

GOMA | More than 40 members of a Hutu militia suspected of atrocities during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide were killed in an overnight air raid, a Congolese military spokesman said Friday.

Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights Watch said that more than 100 civilians have been killed in the past three weeks by the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. The findings were based on interviews with survivors at refugee camps in eastern Congo, the rights group said.

NIGERIA

Judge withdraws from trial of militant

JOS | The judge in the treason trial of Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah withdrew Friday, raising the possibility that the case could be moved to the Niger Delta as the defendant’s attorneys and supporters have demanded.

Mr. Okah is the suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, the region’s main militant group, whose attacks on oil facilities have cut the OPEC member’s output by more than a fifth in recent years.

Mr. Okah was arrested in Angola more than a year ago and extradited to Nigeria. The case has thus far been held behind closed doors in the central city of Jos, hundreds of miles from the Niger Delta where Mr. Okah’s crimes are purported to have been committed.

CHINA

Plan to create blacklist of journalists

BEIJING | China plans to create a blacklist of journalists who break its reporting rules, state media reported Friday, adding to an array of controls used to restrict its domestic media.

According to a report in the China Press and Publishing Journal, the agency that exercises control over the state-owned Chinese media plans to “establish a database of media professionals with a bad record.”

It said reporters who violate the rules or laws will have their press cards taken away. “Their names will be entered into the list and they will be restricted from news reporting or editing work,” Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, was quoted as saying.

INDIA

Businessman, servant get death in killings

NEW DELHI | An Indian court on Friday sentenced a businessman and his servant to death for a 14-year-old girl’s rape and murder, one of a number of gruesome serial killings near the capital, according to police.

A judge said that Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant, Surender Koli, will be hanged, a Central Bureau of Investigation spokesman said.

The two men were arrested in December 2006 after the body parts of 19 children and young women were found packed in 57 plastic bags and buried in the backyard and drains around Pandher’s home near New Delhi.

BRITAIN

13-year-old boy becomes father

LONDON | A baby-faced 13-year-old British schoolboy has fathered a child with his 15-year-old girlfriend, making him one of the youngest parents ever in Britain, a report said Friday.

Four-foot-tall Alfie Patten, whose voice has not yet broken, admitted he had not thought about how he and girlfriend Chantelle Steadman would support baby daughter Maisie Roxanne, as “I don’t really get pocket money.”

“When my mum found out, I thought I was going to get in trouble,” said the teenager, pictured on the front page of the Sun tabloid with the baby, born in Eastbourne, southern England.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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