- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009

COSTA RICA

Honduras rivals meet with mediator

SAN JOSE | Talks to resolve the leadership crisis in Honduras finally got on track Thursday, with both sides showing up at the home of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias for closed-door meetings.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya appeared first and left soon after the arrival of the man who ousted him in a military coup, his former friend and political ally Roberto Micheletti.

It wasn’t clear whether they met face to face inside the Arias home or whether Mr. Zelaya made any concessions. This was the first time the two men appeared in the same city since the leftist Mr. Zelaya surrendered under gunfire and was flown out of his country by masked soldiers June 28. Both men have repeatedly demanded that the other relinquish any claim to leading Honduras since then.

AFGHANISTAN

Explosives kill 25, including children

KABUL | A truck filled with explosives that police think may have been destined for Kabul blew up on a highway Thursday, killing 25 people - half of them children walking to school. Two U.S. troops also died in combat as the U.S. military reported the number of roadside bombs in Afghanistan last month was nearly three times the figure for Iraq.

The blast occurred about 7 a.m. as police were trying to clear a traffic jam on a highway in Logar province after the truck, which was loaded with timber, overturned the previous night. Suddenly, explosives hidden beneath the timber detonated, killing 21 civilians and four policemen, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary said.

At least 13 of the dead were children on their way to school, provincial official Kamaluddin Zadran said. Three children were missing.

IRAQ

Americans blamed for Babylon damage

PARIS | U.S. troops and contractors inflicted considerable damage on the historic Iraqi site of Babylon, driving heavy machinery over sacred paths, bulldozing hilltops and digging trenches through one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, specialists for UNESCO said Thursday.

Once home to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of antiquity, the 4,000-year-old city lies 56 miles south of Baghdad. Soon after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the site became military Camp Alpha.

“There has indeed been a considerable amount of damage,” said archaeologist John Curtis of the British Museum, who inspected the site after U.S. troops handed it back to Iraqi authorities in late 2004.

U.S. authorities have said looting would have been worse had its troops not been there.

EGYPT

25 held in Suez attack plot

CAIRO | Egyptian authorities arrested 25 people on suspicion of plotting attacks on oil pipelines and ships in the Suez Canal, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

The group, which Egypt said had links to al Qaeda, was made up of two dozen Egyptians - most of them engineers and technicians - and their Palestinian leader. They also had contacts with militants in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said.

The group planned to use explosives rigged with mobile phone-activated detonators against shipping in the busy Suez Canal, and learned about explosives from al Qaeda militants on jihadi Web sites, the ministry said.

In April, Egypt announced that it had disrupted a militant cell linked to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah movement that also planned to target the Suez Canal.

CHINA

Quake in south injures 300

BEIJING | An earthquake rocked southwest China on Thursday evening, injuring at least 336 people and collapsing 10,000 homes, state media said.

The magnitude-6.0 temblor centered in Yunnan province’s Yao’an county damaged about 30,000 homes, the Xinhua news agency said. It said the quake was followed by eight aftershocks.

The provincial civil affairs department was sending 4,500 tents, 3,000 quilts and other relief materials to Yao’an, the official agency said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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