- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

Israel regrets killing Palestinian family

JERUSALEM Israel expressed regret yesterday for the deaths of four Palestinian civilians in army shelling violence that jeopardized shaky steps toward reducing tensions in Gaza.

A mother, her two grown sons and a relative died in the attack early yesterday. Israel defended its actions but expressed regret at the same time.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer ordered an inquiry. "I'm deeply sorry about what happened, but you have to understand that our forces are involved in a battlefield situation," he said.

Violence continued yesterday. In Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border, Israeli soldiers fatally shot a 7-year-old Palestinian boy, Palestinians said.

Uzbek leader gives democracy a boost

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan Uzbek President Islam Karimov urged radical democratic changes yesterday, showing an intention to relax the iron rule over the Central Asian nation he has maintained since Soviet times.

Mr. Karimov told a parliament session ahead of the 11th anniversary of the nation's independence that society was now mature enough to face deeper reforms. He urged guarantees of media freedom, freedom of political activity, a greater role for nongovernment organizations, independence of courts and economic liberalization.

U.N. says freeze fails to stop al Qaeda funding

NEW YORK The al Qaeda terror network has the money and recruits to strike again whenever and wherever it wants because a global campaign and U.N. sanctions have failed to stop the financing and support for Osama bin Laden's backers, a U.N. draft report said yesterday.

The report said the sanctions have forced al Qaeda to "reposition its assets and resources and to seek new recruits," but has not stopped it from developing operational links with militant Islamic groups in many continents or continuing to have access to millions of dollars and a variety of weapons.

A total of 234 individuals and groups are currently on the U.N. list of those whose assets should be frozen.

Zimbabwe radio station bombed; no one hurt

HARARE, Zimbabwe Gunmen threw a bomb that exploded in a private radio station widely regarded as anti-government in Zimbabwe's capital yesterday, but nobody was hurt in the blast.

Separately, police arrested a human rights activist, drawing accusations that Zimbabwe's pro-government forces were continuing to muzzle opposition voices.

Britain and the United States condemned the bombing of the "Voice of the People" radio station, which they linked to previous attacks on independent media.

S. Korea airline refuses to fly Dalai Lama

SEOUL South Korea's Asiana Airlines has refused to carry the Dalai Lama on a flight to Seoul, and a Buddhist group accused it of bowing to Chinese pressure.

The Dalai Lama had planned to travel from New Delhi to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, via Seoul in September. The airline refused to sell him a ticket.

Asiana confirmed it had denied the Dalai Lama a transit flight, saying he was a security risk.

Romania defends U.S. war-crimes deal

HELSINGBORG, Sweden Romania defended yesterday its decision to make a deal with the United States to prevent Americans being turned over to the new war-crimes court, rejecting charges that it was a ploy to win NATO membership.

Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said Bucharest did not need to curry favor with Washington before NATO's summit in Prague this November, at which up to seven Eastern European states are expected to be invited to join the U.S.-dominated alliance.

Earlier this month, Romania became the first country to grant the exemption on a bilateral basis.

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