- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010

GERMANY

Minister uses taboo word ‘war’

BERLIN | Germany’s defense minister on Sunday for the first time referred to military operations in Afghanistan as a war, while he promised to investigate a friendly fire clash that left six Afghan soldiers dead.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg broke a government taboo on the politically charged word, preparing Germans to expect more fighting by telling reporters: “Even if not everyone likes it, regarding what happens in parts of Afghanistan, one can colloquially refer to it as war.”

German politicians have stopped short of using the word to refer to military operations in Afghanistan for fear of generating even more public opposition to a mission that is already deeply unpopular. Some 4,000 German soldiers control the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan, and 39 German soldiers have died in Afghanistan in the last nine years.

Mr. Guttenberg admitted Sunday that German troops mistakenly killed six Afghan soldiers at the weekend, and expressed condolences for the deaths. The German troops were en route to reinforce others under attack and had opened fire on a civilian vehicle that had ignored warnings to halt and in which the Afghans were travelling, the head of the German armed forces said.

ICELAND

New active volcano attracts tourists

LONDON | Officials in Iceland say the opening of a second fissure and constant lava flow are not putting in danger hordes of tourists seeking a glimpse of a rare volcanic eruption.

Civil Protection Department Spokesman Vidir Reymissom said hikers are being drawn to the area in southern Iceland by the spectacular view of the lava flow. He said Sunday tourists are in no danger even though a second fissure opened several days ago, releasing more lava.

Initial fears that the eruption could trigger the dangerous melting of a nearby glacier have lessened unless conditions change, he added. The volcano erupted two weeks ago after being dormant for nearly 200 years. Some 500 people were evacuated but have since been allowed to return to their homes.

RUSSIA

Man says bomber may be his daughter

MOSCOW | A Russian newspaper quotes a man as saying that one of the Moscow suicide bombers may have been his daughter, a 28-year-old teacher named Maryam Sharilova.

Novaya Gazeta quotes Rasul Magomedov as saying that a photograph of the suicide bomber looks like his daughter and that she was wearing the same red scarf the last time he saw her. The woman disappeared from her home in the southern province of Dagestan the day before the March 29 attacks.

The attack by two female suicide bombers killed 40 rush-hour commuters. Investigators have identified one of the bombers as the 17-year-old widow of a slain Islamic militant, also from Dagestan.

TURKEY

Coup-plot suspects ordered imprisoned

ISTANBUL | A Turkish court Sunday ordered the purported leader of a coup plot against the government and about 20 other suspects back to prison in a probe that has rattled the country, media reports said.

The suspects were among 70 serving and retired soldiers rounded up in February over a suspected 2003 plot to overthrow the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Last week, 19 of them were released from prison pending trial after a judge cited a “lack of a strong suspicion” and said their trial would not be affected if they remained free.

After prosecutors in charge of the investigation appealed against their release, a court on Sunday decided to issue arrest warrants against the suspects, the Anatolia news agency said. Among them was retired four-star general and purported ringleader Cetin Dogan, former head of the Istanbul-based First Army, where the coup plan was supposedly drawn up shortly after the AKP came to power in November 2002.

SPAIN

ETA blames France in shootout death

MADRID | The Basque separatist group ETA said Sunday the French police started the shootout last month that led to the death of one of the French officers by firing at an ETA militant who was lying on the ground and unarmed.

Jean-Serge Nerin is thought to be the first policeman killed by ETA in France, where the separatists stash weapons and hide members who cross the border into Spain to carry out bombings and shootings.

“They were the first to fire (on an ETA member) who was on the ground and unarmed,” the group said in a statement published in Basque newspaper Gara.

ETA has tried to avoid direct confrontation with France in its 50-year armed struggle to carve out an independent Basque state from parts of Spain and France. More than 850 people have been killed. Mr. Nerin’s death led French President Nicolas Sarkozy to reiterate his pledge to root out ETA bases in the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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