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World Scene

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban commander, 7 others said killed

KANDAHAR | Afghan authorities said Wednesday that an insurgent commander said to be close to the one-eyed Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar, had been killed with seven other militants.

The provincial government said Jamal-ulddin was killed in an overnight operation in the Miansheen district of southern province Kandahar.

"He was a friend of Mullah Mohammad Omar and also [the] Taliban commander in Miansheen district," said a statement from the provincial press office.

Miansheen is one of the districts in Kandahar where the Afghan government does not have full control. Security forces carry out raids based on intelligence tips but do not keep a permanent presence.

ARGENTINA

Former president dies of heart attack

BUENOS AIRES | Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, the country's most powerful politician along with his wife, current leader Cristina Fernandez, died suddenly Wednesday after a heart attack, the presidency said.

Mr. Kirchner, 60, died after being rushed to the Formenti de Calafate hospital while having a severe heart attack, the presidency said.

"It was a sudden death," his personal doctor told reporters in El Calafate, where Mr. Kirchner and his wife had gone to rest and await their turn to be counted in the nation's census.

He was accompanied at all times by his wife, the presidency said.

Mr. Kirchner, 60, had undergone an angioplasty after a heart attack in September, but was still a likely candidate in next year's presidential elections. He also served as secretary general of the South American alliance known as Unasur as a congressman and as leader of the Peronist party.

RUSSIA

Limits sought on NATO troops

MOSCOW | Russia is demanding that a new cooperation agreement with NATO limit the number of troops that can be based in new member states in Central Europe, a leading Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Russia and the alliance appear to be courting more constructive ties after years of acrimony over U.S. missiles in Europe, the possible expansion of NATO toward Russian borders, and the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

President Dmitry Medvedev is set to attend an annual NATO summit in Portugal next month, when a new cooperation deal could be struck.

But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov handed a draft agreement to NATO demanding a ban on "significant military forces" in states that joined since the Soviet breakup in 1991, according to a report in Kommsersant.

AFGHANISTAN

Ban on security firms delayed 2 months

KABUL | The Afghan president said Wednesday that he will extend a Dec. 17 deadline for private security firms to disband by at least two extra months.

In a statement released by his office, Hamid Karzai said that he will set up a committee of officials to review the decree to ban private guards. Security companies may have longer than two months to disband, depending on how quickly the timetable submitted on Nov. 15 takes to be approved.

It is also not clear whether different organizations will be given different deadlines.

The private security firms were supposed to shut down by Dec. 17, but with only seven weeks to go until the deadline, officials said it was still unclear where the government would get the extra police and army troops to replace them. Most of the country's armed forces are busy fighting the insurgency.

There are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 private security guards working in Afghanistan.

MIDDLE EAST

Islamic Jihad militant killed by Israeli shell

GAZA CITY | An Israeli tank shell killed an Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Palestinian medical sources and the militant group said.

Health ministry spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya identified the victim as Jihad Afana, 20, and said he had been killed by a tank shell in an area just east of the town of Jabaliya.

Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, also confirmed in a statement that Afana had been killed by a tank shell "as he was on a mission in the northern Gaza Strip."

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed troops had fired a tank shell at two Palestinians near the fence in the northern Gaza Strip and had "identified a hit."

FRANCE

Official: Strike action to halt half of flights

PARIS | French anti-pension reform strikes Thursday will force the cancellation of 50 percent of flights at Paris Orly airport and 30 percent at other airports, the civil aviation authority DGAC said Wednesday.

Unions have called for a seventh day of nationwide protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's bid to raise minimum retirement from 60 to 62.

With other strike action waning, the number of flights to be canceled on Thursday is similar to the previous day of action on Oct. 19. Airline traffic is expected to return to normal on Friday, the DGAC said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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