Police arrest militant in attacks on Christians
LAHORE — Pakistani authorities have arrested an Islamic militant leader suspected of masterminding two attacks on Christians last year in which 11 persons were killed, intelligence officials said yesterday.
The police arrested Abdul Jabbar, a military commander of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, in a raid near the central town of Sargodha late Monday.
He is believed to have organized an attack on a Christian missionary school in the hilltop resort of Murree last August that killed six persons, and another attack on a missionary hospital in the town of Taxila the same month that killed four nurses and one attacker.
Jaish-e-Mohammed is a Pakistan-based militant group fighting Indian rule in the Kashmir region.
Strike cripples nation for second day; 8 dead
ABUJA — Police firing tear gas battled demonstrators in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, yesterday, the second day of violent protests over fuel-price increases that have left eight persons dead, witnesses said.
The general strike kept seaports, banks, shops and gas stations shut in the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter — raising fears of a prolonged walkout that could hit exports of Nigeria’s mainstay crude oil.
Rome government takes helm of EU
ROME — Italy’s government assumed the rotating European Union presidency yesterday and went on the defensive, calling a barrage of European media criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “insulting and defamatory.”
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the government had all the right credentials to lead the 15-member bloc as it struggles to mend strained relations with Washington, finalize its constitution and absorb 10 new members next year.
Mr. Berlusconi is to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, today.
U.S. asks Greece to stop arms supply
NICOSIA — The United States has asked Greece to stop supplying Greek Cypriots with U.S.-made weapons, citing Washington’s ban on arms sales to the divided island, officials in Nicosia said yesterday.
Cyprus, split between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974 and a constant source of tension between NATO members Greece and Turkey, is heavily militarized on both sides of its cease-fire line.
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou said the issue was raised by the U.S. ambassador to the island.
Ex-wife of Pol Pot dies at age 83
PHNOM PENH — The first wife of the late Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, seen by genocide investigators as a key witness to his brutal 1970s regime, died yesterday aged 83, officials said.
Khieu Ponnary died after a long illness, just months after the United Nations and Cambodia signed a long-awaited deal to put members of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge on trial for genocide.
Ieng Vuth, deputy governor of Pailin province where Khieu Ponnary lived, announced the death. The remote northwestern province was one of the last strongholds of the genocidal Khmer Rouge rebels, who finally fell to government forces in the late 1990s.
Hekmatyar vows to fight Karzai, foreign troops
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In his first video message since returning to Afghanistan last year, rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar urges Afghans to “cut off the hands of the foreign meddlers” and drive all U.S. and other foreign troops from the country.
Hekmatyar, who led one of the factions in Afghanistan’s civil war a decade ago, mocked the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai as unscrupulous opportunists who are “fighting their own people under the command of foreigners.”
The video, on a compact disc, was received yesterday by the Associated Press.