Continued from page 1

Col. Ruhorimbere told the Associated Press that the militiamen did not succeed in freeing those who are being held by the Congolese military.

Col. Ruhorimbere said the fighters behind Thursday’s early morning attack were from a pair of Ugandan groups known as ADF-NALU. They fought the Ugandan government in the 1980s and early ‘90s, and are said to be regrouping in Congo.

IRELAND

Ireland to close embassies to Vatican, 2 others

DUBLIN | Ireland announced Thursday it is closing its embassies to the Vatican and two other nations, but denied that its deteriorating relations with the Catholic Church played a role in its choice of cuts.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said Ireland is under grave financial pressure as it tries to slash spending in line with its international bailout last year.

He said a review determined that Ireland’s diplomatic posts to the Vatican, Iran and Timor Leste offered the least returns in foreign investment.

“The government believes that Ireland’s interests with the Holy See can be sufficiently represented by a nonresident ambassador,” Mr. Gilmore said, suggesting that a diplomat based in another European country would be assigned the Vatican brief, too.

In Rome, the Vatican likewise dismissed concerns that the Irish were sending another rebuke to the Catholic Church over its cover-ups of decades of child abuse in Ireland.

“What is important are the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and states, and these aren’t in question concerning Ireland,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

But Catholic leaders in Ireland expressed dismay and pleaded for an early reversal of the decision. They noted that the Vatican was among the first foreign governments to recognize Irish independence in the 1920s from Britain.

IRAQ

Cleric: U.S. seeking to ‘occupy’ Mideast

BAGHDAD | U.S. plans to station troops across the Mideast after withdrawing from Iraq amount to occupying other Islamic countries, Iraq’s most outspoken anti-American cleric said in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he’s not satisfied with President Obama’s pledge to pull all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, calling it a partial withdrawal because of the thousands of diplomats and security guards who will stay behind.

Story Continues →