- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2003

AFGHANISTAN

Air base attacked, U.S. military says

KABUL — A suspected rocket attack occurred yesterday near the perimeter of Bagram Air Base, staging post for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, but there were no casualties or damage, U.S. military officials said.

“The attack is under investigation,” the U.S. Central Command said in a prepared statement.

Earlier, a U.N. spokeswoman said a blast hit a U.N. refugee transit center in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad but caused no injuries.

“There was an explosion on an outer wall, but we don’t know what it was or who it was,” said Maki Shinohara of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

INDIA

Monsoon leaves 650,000 homeless

GUWAHATI, India — More than half a million people in India and Bangladesh have been driven out of their homes by heavy monsoon flooding that has killed more than 200 people in the past two weeks, officials said yesterday.

Indian soldiers in motorboats evacuated hundreds of marooned people in northeastern Assam state, where about 400,000 have been left homeless after overflowing rivers inundated thousands of villages.

“The situation has turned worse. We don’t know what to do,” said Nurjamal Sarkar, Assam’s flood control minister.

In neighboring Bangladesh, a second spell of flooding in less than a month left about 250,000 people homeless and 1.5 million more cut off from help.

Bangladesh deployed sonar equipment to search for a river ferry that was sucked into a whirlpool and sank three days ago, killing more than 400 people.

IRAN

Thousands bid farewell to twins

LOHRASB, Iran — More than 20,000 Iranians turned out to pay their last respects at the funeral of conjoined twins Laleh and Ladan Bijani yesterday.

The twins, joined at the head for the entire 29 years of their lives, died on the operating table in Singapore in a failed attempt to separate them.

They were buried in their native village of Lohrasb, where the massive turnout underlined how much the couple had captured the hearts of their compatriots and millions of others worldwide who had followed their plight on television.

The funeral cortege left from the mortuary in Firuzabad, 60 miles south of Chiraz, and well-wishers lined the roadside all along the six-mile route leading to their native village.

CANADA

Arrested photographer dies in Iran

OTTAWA — A Canadian freelance photographer has died in Tehran after she was arrested and taken to a hospital with what relatives said were serious head injuries, government officials in Ottawa said yesterday.

Montreal-based Zahra Kazemi, 54, was detained June 23 after taking pictures of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where many dissidents are jailed. She was declared brain dead earlier this week.

Her death appears likely to mar what had been relatively smooth relations between Canada and Iran. Friends and relatives, who insist Mrs. Kazemi was beaten into a coma, said it was important to ensure her body was returned to Canada for an autopsy.

LIBERIA

U.S. team visits key hospital

PHEBE, Liberia — A U.S. military team yesterday visited war-torn Liberia’s second city, Gbarnga, and met with doctors from a key hospital, which has been moved because of the continuing civil war.

The team arrived in Liberia last week and is assessing the humanitarian and security needs of the country, riven by a four-year civil war. The group met with officials from the Phebe hospital, which used to receive U.S. aid.

The hospital, originally located about four miles south of Gbarnga — which has fallen under rebel control twice in the past two years — has now moved to Salala, a town about 50 miles away.


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