- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004


Security Council extends mission

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to extend for a second year a U.N. mission in Iraq that has so far failed to get off the ground because of a lack of security.

The vote by the 15-member council on a resolution drafted by the United States and Britain came about a year after a bomb attack on U.N. offices in Baghdad killed mission chief Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other persons.

All U.N. senior staff were withdrawn from the country in October after U.N. facilities were bombed a second time, although Iraqi staff members continue to work on various U.N. programs across the country.


Bird flu epidemic kills 3 persons

HANOI — Bird flu has killed three Vietnamese, the first deaths reported among humans from the disease since outbreaks in Asia early this year killed 24 persons and prompted the slaughter of millions of birds.

Two of the recent deaths were children, a health official said yesterday.

All three victims tested positive for the H5N1 strain of the virus and died between July 30 and Aug. 3, said Trinh Quan Huan, head of the Ministry of Health’s Department for Preventative Medicine and HIV/AIDS Control.

Early this year, bird flu raged through Asia’s poultry farms, and jumped to humans in cases that were mostly traced to direct contact with sick birds, killing 16 persons in Vietnam and eight in Thailand.


Seminary closed in gay-porn scandal

VIENNA — A papal emissary investigating suspected homosexuality and child pornography among student priests shut down the seminary at the center of the scandal yesterday, acknowledging that his investigation had bared “very painful” revelations of sexual misconduct.

The move by Bishop Klaus Kueng came three weeks after his appointment by Pope John Paul II to look into charges that seminarians were hoarding child pornography and had snapped photos showing them fondling each other.

He gave no indication of how long the baroque seminary in the city of St. Poelten, which had trained young men for the priesthood for more than 200 years, would remain shuttered.


Marine dies, 14 hurt in copter crash

KABUL — A U.S. helicopter crashed near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan yesterday, killing one Marine and injuring 14 others, the military said.

A U.S. statement ruled out hostile fire in the crash.

The injured troops were taken to Camp Salerno, an American base near Khost city, 90 miles south of the capital, Kabul. Four with serious injuries were then taken to the main U.S. base at Bagram, north of Kabul.


Basque bombs hit coastal cities

MADRID — Explosions hit two Spanish coastal cities yesterday after a newspaper received a warning call in the name of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, and at least one person was injured, officials said.

Santander and Gijon, 80 miles apart on Spain’s northern coast, are packed with vacationers and the explosions appeared to fit into ETA’s strategy of seeking to undermine Spain’s tourism industry.


3 killed in attack; hospital, villages hit

TBILISI —Artillery fire killed three Georgians, and a hospital and villages in South Ossetia were damaged early yesterday in a violent escalation of Georgia’s dispute with its breakaway province.

Russia, Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia, which all have peacekeeping forces in the province, called an immediate meeting of a peacekeeping commission in the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, to try to avoid more violence.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has ordered South Ossetia to submit to rule from Tbilisi, but since a separatist war in 1992, local leaders have rejected overtures from the central government, preferring to look to Moscow for support for their de facto independence.

Increasingly bellicose rhetoric and easy access to guns had fueled fears that violence might shatter the fragile peace.


Al Qaeda suspects arrested in crackdown

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has arrested more foreign and local al Qaeda suspects in the past two days as its monthlong crackdown on Osama bin Laden’s shadowy network gathers pace, officials said yesterday.

Intelligence and police officials have announced at least five new al Qaeda-linked detentions in the past 24 hours.

The authorities are chasing various leads after questioning at least three top al Qaeda operatives caught in the past month — Tanzanian-born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Qari Saifullah Akhtar and computer engineer Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan.


Son of founder sworn in as leader

SINGAPORE — Lee Hsien Loong, son of independence leader Lee Kuan Yew, was sworn in yesterday as prime minister and vowed to further open up Singapore society in line with the aspirations of a new generation.

Mr. Lee, 52, and the new Cabinet including his father and his predecessor, Goh Chok Tong, took their oaths in an evening ceremony at the Istana presidential palace after a carefully orchestrated succession process unique to Singapore.

Mr. Lee, a Western-educated mathematician, computer whiz and former military officer, replaced Mr. Goh, 63, an economist, who stepped down after 14 years to become senior minister, second in rank to the prime minister.

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