- - Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SANAA — Two al Qaeda terrorists and an army officer were killed in separate attacks, a Yemeni military official said Wednesday.

In Sanaa, an army officer supporting former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed while leading an assault on the house of a general who defected to the opposition last year during the uprising against Mr. Saleh.

In southern Yemen, armed tribesmen ambushed a group of al Qaeda militants, killing two and wounding three, the official said.

The clash took place in an area seized by the army and tribesmen last month in heavy fighting with the terrorists. Al Qaeda took control there during last year’s internal political turmoil.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban kills 14, destroys NATO fuel tankers

MAZAR-I-SHARIF — A Taliban bomb attack Wednesday destroyed 22 fuel tankers carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, local officials said, as 12 Afghan soldiers and two NATO troops died in escalating insurgent attacks.

A pre-dawn explosion triggered a fire that engulfed the trucks, parked in the northern province of Samangan overnight on their way from Uzbekistan towards NATO forces in the south, Samangan Deputy Gov. Ghulam Sakhi Baghlani said.

NATO was forced to make greater use of more expensive northern supply routes after Pakistan banned its convoys following a botched U.S. air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai claimed responsibility for the tanker attack, saying several private guards were killed.

Pakistan lifted its blockade on NATO supplies earlier this month, but only a few trucks have actually crossed the border.

In southern Afghanistan, nine Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack by Taliban insurgents on an army post, and two NATO soldiers died in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said.

HUNGARY

Suspected Nazi charged with war crimes

BUDAPEST — A 97-year-old Hungarian man suspected of abusing Jews and helping deport thousands of them during the Holocaust was taken into custody Wednesday, questioned and charged with war crimes, prosecutors said.

The case of Laszlo Csatary was brought to the attention of Hungarian authorities last year by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization active in hunting down Nazis yet to be brought to justice.
In April, Mr. Csatary topped the organization’s list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals.

Prosecutors decided to charge him with the “unlawful torture of human beings,” a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mr. Csatary’s lawyer said that a judge, acting on a request from prosecutors, ordered his client to be confined to house arrest for a maximum of 30 days.

CUBA

Defense protests closed USS Cole hearing

GUANTANAMO BAY — A pretrial hearing for an alleged al Qaeda operative accused of masterminding the attack on the USS Cole resumed Wednesday behind closed doors and without the defendant, amid protests from the defense and media outlets.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen, faces the death penalty for the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer off Yemen in October 2000 that claimed the lives of 17 sailors and an attack two years later that killed one person on the French oil tanker MV Limburg.

“It’s really an unprecedented situation. This is the first time that I go to a hearing without my client,” defense lawyer Richard Kammen, who has worked on 35 death penalty cases, told reporters.

Following an initial day of deliberations Tuesday, lawyers and prosecutors were expected to take up the sensitive question of Mr. Nashiri’s detention in secret CIA prisons and mistreatment he allegedly suffered there from 2002 to 2006 before being transferred to the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Despite the protests, Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said sessions open to the press would only resume Thursday.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the Cole, which saw militants riding an explosives-laden skiff blow a 30-by-30-foot hole in the ship.

COLOMBIA

Police retake stronghold from Indian militants

TORIBIO — Colombian authorities say they have retaken a strategic hill in the country’s turbulent southwest from Nasa Indians who had forcibly dislodged soldiers.

The action early Wednesday by a squad of riot police came a day after Indians armed with clubs and rocks dragged six soldiers off the hilltop.

Members of the 115,000-strong Nasa tribe are insisting the military and Marxist rebels leave their traditional lands. They say they are tired of being caught in the crossfire of Colombia’s long-running conflict.

The government rejects the demand, and President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted Wednesday that Indians will not be allowed on military bases. His defense minister and military allege rebels have infiltrated the Indians’ ranks.

The region is a corridor for cocaine smuggling and locals also cultivate high-grade marijuana.

From wire dispatches and staff reports