- - Monday, January 23, 2012

PAKISTAN

Pakistan rejects U.S. claim of self-defense in airstrikes

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s army on Monday formally rejected a U.S. claim that U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops last year were justified as self-defense, a stance that could complicate efforts to repair the troubled but vital relationship between the two countries.

In a detailed report, the Pakistani army says its troops did not trigger the Nov. 26 incident at two posts along the Afghan border by firing at American and Afghan forces, as the U.S. has alleged.

Pakistan’s army said its troops shot at suspected militants who were nowhere near coalition troops.

“Trying to affix partial responsibility of the incident on Pakistan is, therefore, unjustified and unacceptable,” says the report, which was issued in response to the U.S. investigation that concluded at the end of December.

Washington expressed condolences for the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers but said U.S. troops acted “with appropriate force” in self-defense because they thought they were being attacked by Taliban insurgents.

ITALY

2 more bodies found in capsized cruise ship

ROME — Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship as early as Tuesday to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough that search efforts for the missing can continue, Italian officials said.

The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia was not at risk of sliding into deeper waters, Franco Gabrielli, chief of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Monday.

“The ship is stable. … There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed,” Mr. Gabrielli said on the island of Giglio.

The Concordia rammed a reef Jan. 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio’s port as it was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew on a Mediterranean cruise.

Taking advantage of calm seas, divers on Monday found the bodies of two women near the ship’s Internet cafe, raising to 15 the number of confirmed dead.

CHINA

Tibetan activist groups say troops shot protesters

BEIJING — Overseas Tibetan activist groups said security forces fired on Tibetan protesters in southwest China on Monday, killing at least one and injuring others.

As many as several thousand Tibetans in Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province marched Monday to government offices where security forces opened fire, the Free Tibet group said in an email.

The London-based group said a 49-year-old Tibetan man was killed and as many as 30 others were wounded.

The claims about Monday’s protest could not be independently verified.

NIGERIA

Death toll rises to 184 in attacks by Islamist extremists

KANO — Attacks by Islamist extremists in the northern city of Kano on Friday killed 184 people, including more than two dozen police officers, police said Monday, adding that hundreds of bombs have been found.

“The statistics available to the police indicate that 29 policemen, three [intelligence] officers, two immigration officers and a total of 150 civilians have so far been killed by the extremists,” Police Commissioner Ibrahim Idris said.

FRANCE

20 Maori heads returned to New Zealand by museums

PARIS — Preparing the biggest homecoming yet of its kind, authorities in New Zealand on Monday received 20 ancestral heads of Maori ethnic people once held in several French museums as a cultural curiosity.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and New Zealand’s ambassador presided over a solemn ceremony at Quai Branly museum in Paris, where the heads were encased in a box - the largest single handover of Maori heads to be repatriated, the New Zealand Embassy said.

Since 2003, the South Pacific country has embarked on an ambitious program of collecting Maori heads and skeletal remains from museums around the world. The program has run into significant obstacles.

France long resisted handing over such cultural artifacts, but a law passed in 2010 paved the way for the return of the Maori heads. They were obtained as long ago as the 19th century, and one as recently as 1999.

Some Maori heads, with intricate tattoos, traditionally were kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But once Westerners began offering prized goods in exchange for them, men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos, French museum officials have said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide