Roadside bomb kills two U.S. soldiers
BAGHDAD — A roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers Thursday outside the main American military base in Baghdad in what U.S. officials said appeared to be another attack by Shiite militias hoping to drive U.S. troops out of Iraq.
The attack follows the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in two years. Fifteen U.S. soldiers died in June, nearly all in attacks by Shiite militias.
The 46,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Iraq are to leave by year’s end under a 2008 withdrawal agreement.
However, the White House is offering to keep up to 10,000 American soldiers in the country beyond that deadline, if asked by Iraq, to help stabilize the country’s still-shaky security and keep Iran from becoming too cozy with Baghdad officials.
Colombia, U.S. bust cocaine ring
BOGOTA — Colombia and the U.S. drug agency have broken an airport drug ring in the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer that sent up to 2 tons of cocaine monthly to Mexico and the United States, police said Thursday.
Colombian police supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration nabbed 26 suspected traffickers, four of whom are wanted for extradition to the United States, in Colombia’s coastal cities of Barranquilla and Santa Marta as well as Monteria in the northwest and the capital Bogota.
“This structure dedicated to drug trafficking had set up a true mafia company sending aircraft from Colombia to Central America, destined for Mexico and the United States,” said Gen. Oscar Naranjo, head of Colombian police.
“This operation has also led to capture five civil aeronautic officials based in the north coast that facilitated these operations,” he said.
The trafficking group, which used the aviation officials to authorize the drug flights, allegedly was headed by Jesus Lopez, alias “My Blood,” who had been part of outlawed, right-wing paramilitary groups, officials said.
Colombia, where drug traffickers take advantage of dense jungles and forests and a weak state presence in some areas, has received billions of dollars in aid from Washington to fight drug output, rebels and cartels.