- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Four U.S. troops, British soldier killed

KABUL | A roadside bombing killed four U.S. service members — the first American combat deaths of the year in Afghanistan — while a British soldier died during a foot patrol elsewhere in the volatile south of the country, officials said Monday.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said the explosion that killed the U.S. service members took place Sunday in the south, but did not give further details on the location or the victims’ branch of service. The British soldier died while on foot patrol Sunday in Helmand province, the British Ministry of Defense said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, ordered parliament to postpone its winter recess until a new list of Cabinet nominees is announced, after last week’s stinging rejection of most of his choices.

The rejection by lawmakers of 17 of 24 nominees was a surprising slap and an obstacle to Mr. Karzai getting his second term in office into full operation and focusing on badly needed reforms.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma formally weds third wife

KWANXAMALALA | South Africa’s president formalized his marriage to his third wife during a traditional ceremony Monday amid media reports he plans to take a fourth bride later this year.

Some 2,000 guests thronged a homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal province to watch the ceremony in which 67-year-old President Jacob Zuma and 38-year-old Tobeka Madiba took part.

The couple are already married under South African law and have three children. Mrs. Madiba attended Zuma’s inauguration ceremony in May. He paid a dowry to her family in 2007 as is tradition.

IRAN

Professors decry crackdown

TEHRAN | Nearly 90 professors at Tehran University have told Iran’s supreme leader that ongoing violence against protesters shows the weakness of the country’s leadership, a pro-reform Web site reported Monday, reflecting a growing willingness to risk careers and studies to challenge the ruling clerics.

The letter signed by the 88 instructors was issued as university students around Iran staged acts of defiance — including hunger strikes and exam boycotts — to protest reported arrests and intimidation by hard-line forces, according to witnesses and reformist Web sites.

The government, meanwhile, stepped up its accusations that the West is fomenting Iran’s postelection turmoil, saying that foreign nationals were among those arrested in the most recent clashes. Officials didn’t provide the nationalities of those arrested.

IRAQ

Leader vows justice in Blackwater case

BAGHDAD | Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed Monday to seek punishment for the Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 people at a busy Baghdad intersection after U.S. courts dropped the case in a decision that outraged many Iraqis.

Mr. al-Maliki’s comments were his first public reaction since a U.S. judge threw out the case against the five Blackwater guards last week.

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Earthquake causes destructive tsunami

WELLINGTON, New Zealand | A tsunami unleashed by a major earthquake plowed into the Solomon Islands on Monday with the crashing waters devastating at least one village. Initial reports said no one was seriously hurt.

A series of major quakes have rocked the South Pacific region since Sunday, with three powerful temblors striking Monday, including a 7.2 magnitude tremor. The Solomon Island’s National Disaster Management Office said reports of the devastation were beginning to filter in late Monday.

The tremors were centered beneath the ocean floor near the town of Gizo, which was badly damaged in April 2007 when an 8.1-magnitude quake sent a tsunami crashing into the coast, killing more than 50 people.

CHINA

Underground bishop Yao dies at 87

BEIJING | Leon Yao Liang, a bishop in China’s underground church who was imprisoned for more than 28 years under the communists, has died, a U.S.-based Catholic group reported Monday. He was 87.

Bishop Yao died Wednesday in the northern township of Xiwanzi, where he had been auxiliary bishop since 2002, the Cardinal Kung Foundation said in an e-mail.

Bishop Yao had held the position in defiance of the government-sanctioned Patriotic Catholic Association, which has no official relations with the Vatican and does not recognize the pope’s right to appoint bishops.

SWITZERLAND

Avalanches kill 5; 3 missing

GENEVA | Avalanches killed five people in the Swiss Alps over the weekend, and bad weather prevented rescuers from reaching three skiers who apparently remained trapped under the snow on Monday, officials said.

Two of the avalanches occurred in central Switzerland on Sunday, the first hitting a group of skiers, the second the rescuers who came to their aid. A third avalanche buried two skiers in southern Switzerland.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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