- The Washington Times - Friday, May 16, 2003

PAKISTAN

Three suspects held, linked to al Qaeda

KARACHI — Pakistan has detained a foreign national and two Pakistanis suspected of links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, intelligence officials said yesterday.

The foreign national was detained in an overnight raid on a hide-out on the outskirts of the southern port city of Karachi during which a laptop computer and a satellite phone were seized, an official said. The two Pakistanis were detained yesterday based on information provided by the foreigner.

Meanwhile, small bombs exploded at 18 Shell gasoline stations in Karachi yesterday. Shell Pakistan said one customer, three station attendants and one security guard received minor injuries in the attacks, which began before dawn. Police said there were no serious injuries or damage.

RUSSIA

Putin calls for amnesty for Chechen rebels

VLADIKAVKAZ — Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced legislation yesterday to grant sweeping amnesty to Chechen rebels, despite two deadly suicide bombings this week in the restive southern republic.

Mr. Putin said the measure was an act of humanism “aimed first of all at creating additional conditions for the establishment of peaceful life in Chechnya.” He urged lawmakers to consider it as a priority matter, the Kremlin said.

Mr. Putin said the amnesty would apply to those rebels who had laid down their weapons over the decade ending on Aug. 1, 2003. It does not apply to foreigners. Many foreign fighters, some of them Arabs trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, are believed to have joined the Chechen rebellion.

ALGERIA

Elite troops hunt for missing tourists

ALGIERS — Elite Algerian troops hunted the Sahara yesterday for 15 European tourists still missing after 17 adventure vacationers were freed in a desert gunbattle with a guerrilla group accused of links to al Qaeda.

Military sources and Algerian newspapers said the remaining 10 Germans, four Swiss and one Dutchman were being held in caves in the south by a second cell of the Algerian Islamist militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

AFGHANISTAN

U.N. staff to travel with armed escorts

KABUL — The United Nations announced yesterday that its staff will travel with armed government escorts on roads in southern Afghanistan, hours after gunmen fired at a mine-clearing vehicle in the country’s east and injured two Afghan workers.

Later yesterday, a British soldier was slightly wounded in Afghanistan’s capital when an Afghan man threw a grenade at a British peacekeeping base. The United Nations suspended road travel between Gardez and Khost after the attack.

ARGENTINA

President-elect scours for support

BUENOS AIRES — President-elect Nestor Kirchner searched yesterday for allies to help rebuild Argentina after two years of political and economic chaos, as he began his 10-day transition period.

Mr. Kirchner became president-elect abruptly Wednesday after ex-President Carlos Menem dropped out of the race, depriving Mr. Kirchner, a little-known governor from Patagonia, of his expected landslide victory in a runoff on Sunday.

SAUDI ARABIA

Westerners seek clemency in bombings

RIYADH — Attorneys for seven Westerners held in Saudi Arabia over bombings that killed two persons said yesterday they were asking for clemency for their clients.

Saudi media have blamed the 2000-2001 bombings on infighting in gangs smuggling banned alcohol. Diplomats said the attacks might be linked to anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim kingdom, where suicide bombings on foreigners’ housing compounds killed at least 34 persons in the capital Monday.

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