- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2003


Earthquakes leave 400 injured

YAMOTO, Japan — Japanese soldiers brought water and blankets to weary people huddled in school gymnasiums yesterday after three powerful earthquakes rocked rural northern Japan, toppling homes and injuring more than 400 people.

The series of earthquakes knocked out power grids and triggered mudslides in the Miyagi prefecture, a rural state about 190 miles northeast of Tokyo. The most serious temblor had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2.

A tremor measuring 5.5 struck seven hours earlier, and one of 5.3 followed several hours later. The government reported more than 600 milder aftershocks continuing through the night.

No deaths were reported. National police said 421 persons were reported injured — 27 of them seriously — with most sustaining cuts and bruises from falling objects. At least 1,000 homes were damaged, police said.


First soldiers leave for Iraq

SOFIA, Bulgaria — The first 30 of 500 Bulgarian soldiers due to help rebuild Iraq left for the Middle East yesterday, the Defense Ministry said.

The men flew out from the southern town of Plovdiv on board three Ilyushin 76 planes headed for Kuwait, where they are to prepare for the mission in Iraq, the ministry said.

The soldiers will form part of a 9,200-strong multinational force under Polish command, which is to deploy in southern Iraq from Sept. 1 and will carry out logistical support duties, transport and patrols.

The United States in April called on Bulgaria, one of its allies during the war to oust Saddam Hussein, to send troops to Iraq and the Bulgarian parliament approved the mission at the end of May.


Jagger celebrates 60th birthday

PRAGUE — Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger celebrated his 60th birthday in Prague yesterday, confirming his well-known refrain that time does indeed wait for no one.

The man who used to be known as rock ‘n’ roll’s Peter Pan entered his seventh decade with a quiet day in the Czech capital’s posh Four Seasons hotel and an evening bash attended by the rest of the band and a select list of VIPs.

Among those known to be invited was fellow sexagenarian and former Czech President Vaclav Havel, a rock-lover who befriended the Stones during their first visit to then-Czechoslovakia in 1990, shortly after the “velvet revolution” that overthrew Communist rule.


Dozens killed in new massacre

DRODRO, Democratic Republic of Congo — Dozens of people have been killed in a new massacre in two villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled northeastern Ituri region, local officials and residents said yesterday.

They said the massacre was carried out Friday by militiamen from the ethnic Lendu community in the villages of Drodro and Largo, about 50 miles north of the regional capital of Bunia.

At least 150 persons were killed in massacres in the same two villages April 3.


Authorities arrest Islamist fugitives

SANAA — Yemeni security forces arrested four Islamists who had escaped a sweep of a southern mountainous region last month, a security official said yesterday.

The arrests took place in the past two days, the official said, bringing to 31 the number of suspected militants rounded up in an operation launched in late June in the Jabal Hatat region.

Among them are suspected members of al Qaeda. Twenty-eight others are still being sought.

The operation, which began in late June, involved hundreds of soldiers backed by tanks and helicopters. Six militants and one police officer were killed in one standoff, the Interior Ministry said, and a large quantity of arms was seized.

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