Hezbollah guilty of ‘83 Beirut bombing
A federal judge has ruled that the government of Iran was responsible for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 persons, including 17 Americans, and he awarded $123 million in damages to some of the U.S. victims and their families.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, in a 165-page opinion released late Monday, said the bombing on April 18, 1983, was carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah with funding, weapons and training provided by senior Iranian officials.
The bombing was eclipsed only six months later by a massive suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen, leading to withdrawal of U.S. troops.
NATO studying wider peace mission
BRUSSELS — NATO, responding to widespread calls to improve security in Afghanistan, will study extending its peacekeeping mission beyond the capital, Kabul, Secretary-General George Robertson said yesterday.
Last month, the alliance took command of a 5,000-strong U.N.-mandated force.
The International Security Assistance Force now controls Kabul and Bagram Air Base.
French veto threat delays sanctions vote
NEW YORK — Bowing to a French veto threat, the United Nations Security Council yesterday put off for three more days a vote to lift U.N. sanctions imposed on Libya over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Just minutes before a scheduled vote, Paris said it had asked current council president Britain to postpone the vote, which had been already repeatedly delayed, to allow a settlement in parallel talks on Libyan compensation for the bombing of a French UTA airliner in 1989.
China snubs 55th anniversary
SEOUL — China snubbed longtime ally North Korea at that nation’s lavish 55th-birthday celebration in Pyongyang yesterday by sending a little-known apparatchik instead of a senior official.
The celebration included a huge parade and a renewed vow to boost North Korea’s nuclear deterrent force, but put no military hardware on display despite speculation it would showcase a new missile capable of hitting parts of the United States.
The communist state, which is involved in six-country efforts to defuse a crisis over its nuclear intentions, accused the United States of maintaining a hostile policy toward it.
But the parade, at which leader Kim Jong-il took the salute, passed by without any of the overtly provocative gestures defense analysts had said were possible.
Undertaker estimates heat toll at 15,000
PARIS — An estimated 15,000 people died in France’s scorching heat wave this August, the country’s largest undertaking service said yesterday, surpassing the official government estimate of 11,435.
The updated estimate included deaths in the second half of August after record-breaking temperatures had abated, a spokeswoman for General Funeral Services said.
The latest estimate came after the government on Monday released a report blaming the deaths on hospital understaffing, bureaucratic delays and insufficient care for the elderly.
Peacekeepers push into interior
CAREYSBURG — West African peacekeepers made their first major push into Liberia’s interior yesterday and negotiated an end to fighting between rebels and government forces in a northern town.
Until now, peacekeepers had concentrated on securing Monrovia, the capital, since arriving to bolster a fragile peace deal a month ago.
Yesterday, 650 soldiers from Guinea-Bissau arrived in Kakata, 40 miles northeast of Monrovia, where rebels had attacked the town, forcing government troops to flee.