- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. attack kills 11, local villagers say

KANDAHAR — A U.S. air raid in southern Afghanistan killed 11 villagers, including four children, Afghan officials said yesterday. The U.S. military said it killed five militants in the weekend raid in insurgency-plagued Uruzgan province.

Sunday’s incident came as American commanders and Afghan officials hunt for Taliban and al Qaeda suspects and try to improve security in the lawless south and east ahead of planned summer elections.

Abdul Rahman, chief of Char Chino district in Uruzgan, said the attack occurred about 9 p.m. Sunday in Saghatho, a village where he said U.S. forces hunting for insurgents had carried out searches and made several arrests.

Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a U.S. military spokesman, said a warplane killed five armed militants in Uruzgan where the American military has a base.

ALGERIA

Refinery explosion kills at least 13

ALGIERS — A powerful explosion yesterday at Algeria’s largest refinery and key exporter of gas and oil in the Mediterranean port city of Skikda killed 13 workers and caused extensive damage.

At least 74 persons were injured in the blast at the petrochemical complex in the industrial zone of Skikda, some 310 miles east of the capital Algiers, the state radio said, citing the latest official toll.

An official inquiry into what caused the blast was opened.

ISRAEL

Hezbollah kills Israeli soldier

BEIRUT — Hezbollah militants attacked an Israeli bulldozer at the Israeli-Lebanese border yesterday. Israel’s military said one soldier was killed and two were wounded, one seriously.

In a broadcast by its Al Manar Television, the Islamic militant group said the bulldozer had crossed the border into Lebanon, but Israeli commander Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz denied it had crossed into Lebanon.

Israel also blamed the attack on Syria, which is widely believed to support Hezbollah.

IRAQ

Japanese troops begin deployment

SAMAWA — Japanese troops arrived in southern Iraq yesterday to begin Japan’s most contested and risky deployment since World War II.

An advance party of three dozen soldiers, which will prepare the ground for the likely deployment of about 1,000 troops, arrived at the Dutch military camp in Samawa at 9 p.m., after crossing the border from Kuwait eight hours earlier.

The deployment marks a historic shift away from Japan’s purely defensive postwar security policy.

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