- The Washington Times - Friday, June 18, 2004


Tribal leader killed in raid

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s army killed a renegade tribal leader accused of sheltering al Qaeda fighters, tracing him to a mud-brick compound via a satellite phone and then leveling the building in a helicopter assault, officials said yesterday. Six others also died.

A helicopter fired a missile at the hideout of Nek Mohammed near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

The army got its break late Thursday when a satellite phone intercept tracked Mohammed to the home of another tribal leader. It was not known if the United States was involved in the phone intercept.


Militias take provincial capital

KABUL — Warlords overran a provincial capital in central Afghanistan, officials said yesterday, forcing the governor to flee in the latest burst of infighting in this war-fractured nation.

Fighters armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades seized Chagcharan, the main town in remote Ghor province 350 miles west of Kabul, on Thursday, officials said. Gov. Mohammed Ibrahim fled to the western city of Herat, leaving his deputy and a group of nominally loyal militiamen and police to regroup in a nearby village.

The attack, in which 10 persons were reported killed, highlights the challenges U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faces in trying to extend his writ to the countryside.


Hong Kong leader meets activists

HONG KONG — Beijing’s handpicked leader of Hong Kong met pro-democracy activists for the first time in nearly a year yesterday in a bid to cool tempers before a scheduled July 1 rally to demand China grant universal suffrage for the city.

Pro-democracy parties are furious after Beijing ruled out democratic reform anytime soon in Hong Kong and have accused the communist government of going back on a promise to grant the city wide-ranging autonomy after it was handed back to China in 1997.

Tung Chee-hwa, who has run the former British colony since the handover, offered to meet the Democratic Party after lawmakers made surprise calls for a truce last week, offering to tone down their anti-Beijing rhetoric.


Oil minister changed in Cabinet overhaul

OSLO — Norway’s prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet yesterday to prepare for 2005 elections with new faces, including a foreign policy expert as energy minister of the world’s No. 3 oil exporter.

“The government has felt a need for renewal and modernization,” Kjell Magne Bondevik said of the first Cabinet overhaul since his three-party center-right minority coalition, now struggling in opinion polls, took office in 2001.

Two new members joined the Cabinet, three existing members got new jobs and some other ministries got fresh titles. Two ministers left and the gender balance stayed at 11 men and eight women in shifts of personalities more than policies.


Two small bombs explode near banks

ISTANBUL — Small bombs exploded late yesterday outside two banks in Istanbul, slightly injuring one person.

The two blasts occurred within a half hour of each other in two neighborhoods on the Asian side of Istanbul, the private NTV television reported.

Istanbul is scheduled to host a NATO summit June 28-29 attended by President Bush.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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