- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

Saudis say veil required of all U.S. servicewomen

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Saudi officials warned yesterday they would not allow U.S. servicewomen to go in public without a head-to-toe robe, and criticized Washington for lifting the requirement that its female troops wear the garment.

A member of the Committee for the Preservation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, a government agency for enforcing Islamic law, said all women must wear the robe, or "abaya," irrespective of religion, nationality or profession.

Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, issued an order last week saying the abaya was no longer required for U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia "but is strongly encouraged."

A Saudi military official yesterday criticized Gen. Franks' move, saying the United States should have consulted the kingdom beforehand.

Colombia destroys downed U.S. helicopter

BOGOTA, Colombia Colombia's military destroyed a U.S. government helicopter to keep it from falling into the hands of guerrillas who forced it down during an anti-drug mission, Colombian and American officials said yesterday.

Five Colombian police officers died protecting the downed UH-1N helicopter, and three Colombian soldiers were wounded. There were no Americans aboard the State Department helicopter when it was hit by ground fire last week.

The crew including Colombian police and a Peruvian pilot working for a private American company contracted by the U.S. government for the drug war was evacuated unharmed, the officials said.

Musharraf announces elections in October

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Signaling the end of three years of military rule in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf announced yesterday that legislative elections would be held in October.

Elections for national and provincial legislatures mean that laws will be enacted in Pakistan by elected representatives rather than by military decree. Gen. Musharraf said the vote would be free, fair and impartial.

The announcement at a conference on human development in Islamabad complies with a Supreme Court ruling. The court had ordered Gen. Musharraf, who took power in an October 1999 military coup, to bring back civilian rule by three years from the date of the coup.

Gen. Musharraf, who is slated to meet with President Bush at the White House Feb. 13, will remain president and also commander of the Pakistani military, the dominant institution in the country.

U.S., British planes bomb base in Iraq

MANAMA, Bahrain U.S. and British warplanes bombed an anti-aircraft base in southern Iraq yesterday after coming under Iraqi artillery fire, a U.S. official said.

The attack happened at 3:45 p.m. on Al Faw Peninsula, 290 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Brett Morris, spokesman for the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia. He said all aircraft returned safely to base and a damage assessment was under way.

U.S. to help fight Uzbek militants

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan The commander of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan yesterday pledged U.S. help in fighting an Uzbek Islamic militant group that Washington had linked to Osama bin Laden.

Gen. Tommy Franks told a news conference in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, that fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, were still in Afghanistan, where they fought alongside the Taliban.

"We will continue to work to root them out" in Afghanistan, he said.

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