- - Thursday, June 2, 2011

AFGHANISTAN

NATO captures Ex-bin Laden associate

KABUL — NATO said Thursday it captured a senior al Qaeda operative and former Osama bin Laden associate in northern Afghanistan.

NATO said the man was based in Pakistan and was a former associate of bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan on May 2. NATO also said the captured man may have been with the al Qaeda leader in 2001.

NATO did not release the detainee’s name or other details except to say he was captured Wednesday during an operation in Nahri Shahi in northern Balkh province.

NATO said he is one of several senior al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents captured in the province since February. It said a total of 35 people associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban have been captured in Balkh during that period.

CHINA

Bishop to be named without pope’s approval

BEIJING — China’s government-controlled Catholic Church is preparing to ordain a new bishop, and the leading candidate is a priest who lacks the Vatican’s backing, potentially adding fuel to a long-running feud between Beijing and the Holy See.

China doesn’t have any diplomatic ties with the Vatican, and the communist government has long disputed the Holy See’s insistence that it has the sole right to appoint Catholic bishops.

The Chinese church ordained another bishop without the pope’s approval in November, which the Vatican later called a “grave wound” to the faith.

Ucanews.com, a news service that covers the Catholic Church in Asia, reported Wednesday that the Rev. Joseph Shen Guo’an is expected to be ordained next Thursday in Wuhan Diocese in central China.

Liu Bainian, honorary president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the state-controlled group that runs China’s Catholic churches, would not confirm that Mr. Shen would become bishop.

However, he said that the Wuhan Diocese has been without a bishop for many years and that Mr. Shen has been in charge in the interim.

SRI LANKA

Army chief says video of executions is fake

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s army chief on Wednesday dismissed as “doctored” a video clip that shows soldiers shooting bound, blindfolded prisoners and abusing corpses in the final days of the country’s 26-year civil war.

U.N. expert Christof Heyns concluded this week that the five-minute video was authentic and contains enough evidence to open a war-crimes investigation but asked Sri Lanka to investigate the events first.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya told reporters Thursday there are no clear details available on the video about the persons involved, place and day of the killings.

“We have said it’s a doctored video,” Gen. Jayasuriya said.

Mr. Heyns, a South African law professor who is also the U.N.’s independent investigator on extrajudicial killings, said he viewed the video frame by frame with a team of technical and forensic specialists to determine it is authentic.

THAILAND

Authorities find luggage stuffed with 431 reptiles

BANGKOK — Thai customs authorities said 431 turtles and other rare reptiles were stuffed into four suitcases and smuggled into the Bangkok airport.

Gharials — a type of crocodile native to India — and Indian star and roofed tortoises were among the endangered species found in the luggage Wednesday.

Customs Department Director-General Prasong Poontaneat said many of the reptiles found are banned from international trade. They were discovered when an Indian traveler arriving from Bangladesh failed to retrieve his bags.

Mr. Prasong said the animals would be held for evidence and taken care of by wildlife officials.

Thailand is a hub for the illegal wildlife trade. A smuggling attempt thwarted last month involved two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys — all juveniles about the size of puppies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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