- - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

IRAQ

Soldier faces charges over video leak

BAGHDAD | A U.S. soldier suspected of leaking a military video of an attack on unarmed men in Iraq was charged with multiple counts of mishandling and leaking classified data and putting national security at risk.

Army Spc. Bradley Manning, 22, is suspected of leaking a classified video that shows a group of men walking down the street before being repeatedly shot by Apache helicopters. The American gunners can be heard laughing and referring to the men as “dead bastards.”

The classified video was taken from the cockpit during a 2007 firefight and posted in April on the website Wikileaks.org. It was an unflattering portrait of the war that raised questions about the military’s rules of engagement and whether more should be done to prevent civilian casualties.

Among those believed to have been killed in the attack were Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Saeed Chmagh, 40. Two children were wounded.

Spc. Manning, from Potomac, Md., was detained in Baghdad in early June and is now being held in Kuwait.

A military version of a grand jury hearing will determine if Spc. Manning should face a trial by court-martial, the Army’s statement also said, adding that a criminal investigation is still open.

EGYPT

Bus driver shoots workers, kills 6

CAIRO | A construction firm bus driver fatally shot six workers and wounded six others as he sprayed passengers with gunfire near the Egyptian capital on Tuesday, a senior local official said.

“Six employees were killed and six others wounded before the other workers were able to overpower” the driver, said provincial Gov. Fathi Saad.

The driver for the company Arab Contractors was taking 22 employees to their workplace in Giza when he stopped the bus at Meniel Shiha, 12 miles south of Cairo, and suddenly started firing.

The gunman was arrested, but no immediate word emerged on his motives, although survivors were quoted as saying the driver had been suffering depression due to a job transfer.

ISRAEL

Gaza war troops to be disciplined

JERUSALEM | The Israeli military on Tuesday indicted a soldier on a charge of manslaughter during last year’s war in the Gaza Strip — the most serious criminal charge to come out of an internal investigation into the devastating offensive in the Hamas-ruled territory.

The soldier was among three troops, including a field commander, to face new disciplinary action stemming from their conduct during the offensive, which has drawn international condemnation for its civilian death toll.

An Israeli human rights group praised the announcement, but said the disciplinary measures announced by the army so far were insufficient.

IRAQ

Peacekeepers eyed for after drawdown

BAGHDAD | The top American military commander in Iraq said Tuesday that U.N. peacekeeping forces may need to protect disputed territories in the nation’s north if tensions between Kurds and Arabs haven’t eased by the time U.S. troops leave in 2011.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Army Gen. Ray Odierno said U.N. peacekeepers might be one option if Kurdish soldiers haven’t integrated into the Arab-dominated Iraqi army over the next year. He said he hopes the U.N. forces won’t be necessary.

But Gen. Odierno acknowledged that tensions between the two cultures — and the oil-rich land in Iraq’s north that each side claims as their territory — have been simmering for years without resolution.

LEBANON

Thousands attend funeral of ayatollah

BEIRUT | Tens of thousands of mourners in southern Beirut bid a final farewell on Tuesday to Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a Shiite cleric revered as a modern face of Islam and listed as a “terrorist” by the United States.

Lebanon held an official day of mourning for the grand ayatollah, who died in the hospital of internal bleeding on Sunday at the age of 75.

Waving black flags and chanting their loyalty to the imam Hussein — the founder of Shiite Islam — Mr. Fadlallah’s followers and admirers accompanied his casket from his home to the Hassanein mosque where he was buried.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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