- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. troops faulted in deadly air strike

The Pentagon said Monday that U.S. troops did not follow proper tactics and procedures during an air assault on Taliban fighters last month.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the number of Taliban militants killed in the May 4 air strikes “greatly outnumbered” the number of civilians slain. But Mr. Morrell noted some problems in the way the strikes were carried out, citing a U.S. warplane that appears to have erred in bombing its target.

Afghan officials have said that the civilian death toll in the air assault was 140, but U.S. commanders have said they think no more than 30 civilians were killed, along with 60 to 65 Taliban insurgents.

GABON

Dead president ruled 42 years

BARCELONA, Spain | Gabon’s President Omar Bongo, Africa’s longest-serving leader, died Monday in a Spanish clinic where he was being treated for a serious illness, the Gabonese prime minister said. He was 73.

Mr. Bongo’s death after more than four decades in power leaves a political void in the oil-producing central African country, which he tightly controlled. Senate President Rose Francine Rogombe, a Bongo ally in the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party, is expected to take over as interim leader.

Mr. Bongo, who took power in 1967, checked into the clinic in Barcelona in May.

BRAZIL

Tailpiece found of downed jet

RECIFE | A large tail section of a jetliner bearing Air France’s trademark red and blue stripes was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, helping narrow the hunt for black boxes that could explain what brought down Flight 447.

And some high-tech help is on the way — two U.S. Navy devices capable of picking up the flight recorders’ emergency beacons far below on the ocean floor. What caused the Airbus A330-200 to plunge into the ocean May 31 with 228 people aboard might not be known until those black boxes are found.

But some Air France pilots aren’t waiting for a definitive answer. With investigators looking at the possibility that external speed monitors iced over and gave dangerously false readings to cockpit computers in a thunderstorm, a union is urging pilots to refuse to fly Airbus A330 and A340 planes unless the monitors — known as Pitot tubes — are replaced.

BRITAIN

Brown toughs out Parliament session

LONDON | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced down critics in his own ranks Monday, vowing to improve his performance after his ruling Labor Party suffered its worst electoral results in a century and more ministers quit his government.

Mr. Brown acknowledged failings in a 90-minute meeting with several hundred Labor lawmakers from both houses of Parliament - and appeared to have won support from all but his most strident critics.

After more than a dozen resignations from his government over the past week and his party’s failure in elections to local councils and the European Parliament, Mr. Brown had faced loud calls to quit from a group of dissident Labor lawmakers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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