- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2004

PAKISTAN

Al Qaeda suspects held for planning attacks

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has arrested up to 10 al Qaeda suspects, including two Egyptians, suspected of planning major attacks in the capital Islamabad, ministers said yesterday.

Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said the attacks had been planned for earlier in August and the targets included the presidency, the military residence of President Pervez Musharraf, the U.S. Embassy, the office of the chief minister of Punjab province, and the national convention center.

BANGLADESH

Bombs kill 16 at political rally

DHAKA — A series of bombs exploded at a rally where the top opposition leader was speaking in Bangladesh’s capital yesterday, killing at least 16 persons and injuring scores of others, witnesses and news reports said.

Opposition leader Sheik Hasina was addressing the rally from atop a truck outside the headquarters of her Awami League party in central Dhaka when the blasts went off. She was unhurt, her party said.

More than 150 were injured, including senior opposition members, private TV station ATN Bangla reported.

NEPAL

Police officer killed by Maoist rebels

KATMANDU — Communist rebels attacked a mountainous town overnight, killing at least one soldier and bombing several government buildings, officials said today.

Hundreds of rebels surrounded Khalanga in Nepal’s remote northwest around midnight and bombed the police station, land revenue office and an administrative office. The attack closed the airstrip and knocked down communication lines.

AFGHANISTAN

American mercenary sought bin Laden

KABUL — An American on trial for reputedly torturing Afghan terror suspects in a private jail claimed yesterday in his first interview from custody that he was hot on the heels of Osama bin Laden and other militant leaders when he was arrested on July 5.

Jonathan Idema told the Associated Press he had official sanction from Afghans and Americans to hunt down terrorists and said he has been prevented from showing the evidence in court. Prosecutors say Mr. Idema was waging a private war, and he faces up to 20 years in an Afghan prison if convicted.

“We would have had bin Laden in less than 30 days,” said Mr. Idema, a former U.S. Army soldier who spent three years in jail in the 1980s for bilking 60 companies out of more than $200,000.

BRAZIL

Mooning gesture ruled not obscene

SAO PAULO — The Supreme Court has quashed charges of obscene exposure leveled last year against avant-garde theater director Gerald Thomas, who mooned an audience after an opera performance.

After an August 2003 performance of “Tristan and Isolde” at Rio de Janeiro’s municipal theater, Mr. Thomas shocked audience members and much of the cast by pulling down his pants and displaying his buttocks in response to jeers at the curtain call.

The Supreme Court said it shelved the charges Tuesday night after deciding that Mr. Thomas’ gesture “may have been rude and in bad taste” but not obscene. The court called it an “exercise in freedom of expression.”

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