- - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BELGIUM

Police find body in garage at grenade-thrower’s home

LIEGE | The body of a woman has been found in the garage of a grenade-throwing gunman, bringing to four the number of people killed in an attack in the city of Liege, officials said Wednesday.

Liege Prosecutor Daniele Reynders said the body of a woman, identified as a cleaning lady in her 40s, was discovered during a search of Nordine Amrani’s property. He said she was killed before the murderous spree in Liege’s main square, which also left 123 people injured.

Ms. Reynders said Amrani, 33, died in Tuesday’s attack in an apparent suicide. He was found with a number of grenades still on him.

“What killed him was a shot in the middle of his forehead,” she said.

Two male teenage students, 15 and 17, also died in the attack, while an 18-month-old toddler died Tuesday evening at a hospital, Liege police said. Several people remain in intensive care.

A 75-year-old woman who initially had been counted among the dead was taken off the list, even though she stands virtually no chance of recovering from her injuries, a spokeswoman for the Liege governor said.

IRAN

Official says Saudi visit refutes U.S. assassination charge

TEHRAN | A rare visit by Iran’s intelligence chief to Saudi Arabia sought to refute U.S. claims that Tehran planned to kill the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States, a senior Iranian official said Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran also wanted to convince Saudi Arabia that the United States and Israel are seeking to sow seeds of discord between the two regional powers.

Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was reported to have met the Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz Al Saud during his Tuesday visit. The prince is also the kingdom’s interior minister.

Initially, few reports emerged from the meeting. Saudi diplomats said the two discussed regional issues, including developments in Syria and Bahrain.

Iran has dismissed the U.S. accusations that Tehran was involved in a plot to assassinate Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, calling the claims “absurd.” Two men, including a member of Iran’s Quds Force special foreign actions unit, have been charged in New York federal court in the plot.

CHILE

Doctors successfully separate conjoined twin girls

SANTIAGO | Chilean doctors successfully separated conjoined twin girls in a marathon 20-hour surgery, saying Wednesday that the operation went extremely well despite challenges.

The 10-month-old twins Maria Paz and Maria Jose lost a good deal of blood but were in stable condition and recovering in the intensive care unit at Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital, chief surgeon Francisco Ossandon said.

Parents Jessica Navarrete and Roberto Paredes kept an anxious vigil at the hospital in Santiago as doctors separated the twins at the thorax, stomach and pelvis. It was the seventh and most complex operation yet for the twins.

ISRAEL

Prime minister vows crackdown on Jewish extremists

JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered a crackdown on Jewish extremists believed to be responsible for a wave of violence and vandalism against Israeli soldiers and Muslim mosques.

He said that he had accepted recommendations made by Cabinet ministers to stop the disturbances. The measures grant soldiers the ability to make arrests, ban extremists from contentious areas and enable rioters to be tried in military courts.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli police arrested six suspected Jewish extremists in a raid on a Jerusalem apartment. The crackdown came hours after arsonists torched a Jerusalem mosque in an overnight attack.

AFGHANISTAN

Drone spy missions will continue, Panetta pledges

KABUL | Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Wednesday that the United States will continue to conduct intelligence operations from Afghanistan like the recent mission that led to the loss of a drone over Iran.

Standing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mr. Panetta provided a cryptic response to questions about the lost drone, which has exposed details of the little-known U.S. intelligence and surveillance efforts aimed at Iran.

The Pentagon chief and former CIA head left little doubt that the United States finds Afghanistan a useful place from which to spy on its neighbor and intends to keep at it. The operations benefit both the United States and Afghanistan, Mr. Panetta said.

“These are operations that I will not discuss publicly, other than to say that part and parcel of our effort to defend this country, and to defend our country, involves important intelligence operations that we will continue to pursue,” he said.

The RQ-170 drone, known as the Sentinel, was lost over Iran two weeks ago.