- - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan attorney general says envoy ‘threatened’ him

KABUL | Afghanistan’s top prosecutor Tuesday accused U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry of threatening to have him removed from his job if he did not take action against an Afghan banker purportedly involved in fraud.

Attorney General Mohammad Is’haq Alko told reporters that Mr. Eikenberry had violated “diplomatic ethics” by ordering him to have the banker arrested.

“Against all diplomatic ethics, the U.S. ambassador tells me: ‘If you don’t jail him, you must resign,’” Mr. Alko told reporters, citing a recent conversation with Mr. Eikenberry.

“Do diplomatic ethics allow the attorney general of a country to be threatened in such a manner?” Mr. Alko asked rhetorically.

He said his office did not have enough evidence against the banker, Rafiullah Azimi, whom Mr. Eikenberry wanted detained.

The banker reportedly was involved in a corruption case linked to a former minister now living in Britain after eluding an arrest warrant in March, Mr. Alko said.

Asked for a response to Mr. Alko’s allegations, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Caitlyn Hayden told Agence France-Presse: “We don’t comment on the ambassador’s diplomatic discussions.”

TURKEY

Reports: Turks shot 31 times on Gaza aid ship

ANKARA | All but two of the nine Turks killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship were shot more than once, and five died from bullet wounds to the head, according to forensic reports.

The reports were made available to Agence France-Presse Tuesday by lawyers for the victims’ families, who have petitioned Turkish prosecutors to investigate the May 31 bloodshed on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ferry.

The forensic examinations were carried out in Turkey by the government-run Forensic Institute.

“The findings make it clear the Israeli forces shot to kill the activists and not to overpower them,” one of the lawyers, Yasin Divrak, told AFP.

The nine volunteers were shot a total of 31 times, according to the documents.

IRAQ

Suicide bomber kills 5 as 12 die in unrest

TIKRIT | A suicide bomber killed five people in northern Iraq on Tuesday as bombs in Baghdad and other deadly attacks raised the toll to 12 dead, including an Iraqi general, security officials told Agence France-Presse.

The suicide attack in the refinery and power-station town of Baiji, 125 miles from the capital, targeted a police patrol and also wounded 18 people, said police in the Salahuddin provincial capital of Tikrit.

In Baghdad, the general, whom police identified only by his first name, Khodr, was blown up by a magnetic bomb in Aden Square in the Shi’ite shrine district of Kadhimiyah in the north of the city.

A second magnetic bomb killed one person and wounded two outside an army officers club in Al-Hurriya in northwestern Baghdad, police said. There was no immediate word on whether the casualties were soldiers or civilians.

A roadside bomb also killed one person and wounded four in a car in the capital’s mainly Sunni Arab southern district of Dora, police said.

ISRAEL

Lavrov dismisses U.S. concerns about Iran

JERUSALEM | Russia’s foreign minister is expressing little concern over U.S. claims that Iran has enough uranium to make two nuclear bombs within two years, saying the information is not new.

Speaking in Israel on Tuesday, Sergey Lavrov responded to a new CIA assessment that Iran could produce the bombs by further enriching uranium it already has.

Mr. Lavrov said the International Atomic Energy Agency already has said Iran has 2,000 kilograms of uranium enriched to a low level, enough for two bombs if further enriched.

Mr. Lavrov said Russia hopes Iran would agree to stop uranium enrichment in return for receiving nuclear fuel from Russia.

Mr. Lavrov’s Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, said Iran’s nuclear program posed the “biggest threat” to Mideast stability.

JORDAN

Egypt bars Jordanians from reaching Gaza

AMMAN | A group of Jordanian trade unionists who tried to get into the blockaded Gaza Strip returned home on Tuesday after Egypt denied them entry through the Rafah crossing.

“We decided to go back to Jordan after Egypt refused to give us permission,” said Ahmad Armuti, head of the delegation and president of the trade unions council, to Agence France-Presse.

“We contacted Egyptian authorities several times, but we failed to get the reasons behind their decision.”

Earlier, Alaa Borqan, who is in charge of public relations at the Islamist-dominated trade unions, said the 12-member group, including journalists, left for Rafah on Saturday.

They were carrying “nothing but solidarity for the people of Gaza,” he said, adding that the unions had sent a letter to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif urging him to allow the delegation into the enclave.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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