- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

IRAQ

Poland to hand command to Spain

MADRID — Poland has reached an agreement to hand command of an international military division in central Iraq to Spain in June, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported yesterday, citing Polish Defense Ministry sources.

The newspaper cited Spanish Defense Ministry sources as saying that one of the options for a turnover was the deployment of a NATO force under a Spanish commander.

Spain has about 1,300 troops stationed in south-central Iraq as part of the 9,000-strong international force. The division is based in mainly Shi’ite Muslim areas, seen as less restive than Sunni regions, which have stronger ties to Saddam Hussein’s toppled government.

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Qaeda backers targeted police car

RIYADH — Al Qaeda sympathizers claimed responsibility yesterday for a bomb attack on a Saudi security officer’s car this week.

A small bomb exploded in a car in the capital, Riyadh, on Monday but caused no casualties. Three men have been arrested in connection with the attack, the Okaz newspaper reported yesterday.

A group calling itself the al-Haramain Brigades took responsibility in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site often used by sympathizers of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network.

ISRAEL

Soldier arrested for shooting Briton

JERUSALEM — An Israeli soldier has been arrested for shooting and critically wounding a British man in April in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said yesterday.

Tom Hurndall, 22, a university student, was shot in the head while volunteering as a buffer between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. Witnesses said he was shot as he tried to help children out of the path of an Israeli tank in Rafah, a Palestinian refugee camp.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the soldier, who was not identified, was arrested Tuesday, and a military court ordered him to remain in custody.

ITALY

Mail blocked after letter bombs

BOLOGNA — Italian authorities have blocked mail sent from the Bologna region that is addressed to European Union bodies after a spate of letter bombs, Bologna’s assistant prosecutor said.

Four devices in four days were sent from the northern Italian city — to European Commission President Romano Prodi, European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet, EU police agency Europol and Eurojust, which helps fight cross-border crime.

GERMANY

Security beefed up over terror threat

FRANKFURT — Several German states tightened security yesterday around some U.S. military bases and other sensitive facilities after American warnings that Islamist militants may carry out attacks.

The same U.S. tip prompted authorities in Hamburg on Tuesday to seal off a German military hospital cited as a potential target.

EGYPT

5 Russians held, linked to extremism

CAIRO — Egypt has detained five Russians studying at al-Azhar Islamic university in Cairo and linked the arrests to extremism, security sources said yesterday.

Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the five students from the Caspian Sea region of Dagestan were arrested Sunday but gave no details of the charges.


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