- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2004

AFGHANISTAN

17 Taliban killed in U.S.-led raid

KABUL — U.S.-led forces backed by warplanes killed 17 Taliban in a fierce battle in the southern Afghan heartland of the former ruling militia, the American military confirmed yesterday. Three Marines were slightly wounded.

Afghan officials earlier said 13 Taliban were killed and eight were wounded and captured in the fighting that began late Wednesday and ended Thursday in the mountains of Kandahar province.

A spokesman for the Kandahar provincial government said some 300 Afghan troops and a smaller number of Americans skirmished with gunmen in Kandahar’s Miana Shien district, some 150 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul.

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Qaeda leader said to praise attack

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The suspected leader of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia praised last weekend’s terrorist attack that killed 22 persons and the effect it had on oil prices, according to a statement he purportedly posted on the Internet.

Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin said the attack, in which Islamic militants stormed a Khobar resort and killed mostly foreign oil workers, was carried out by the “Jerusalem Squad” and amounted to a “new victory.”

The statement claims the Khobar attack dealt the Saudi government a number of setbacks.

“One of them is that the oil prices soared to $42 (per barrel), the highest figure in oil history,” it said. “This irks the malicious government that is committed to guaranteeing America’s prosperity and the continuation of the oil flow at the cheapest prices.”

RUSSIA

Bomb blast in market kills 8, wounds 37

MOSCOW — A powerful bomb blast ripped through a crowded outdoor market in central Russia yesterday, killing at least eight persons and wounding 37, Russian emergency officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast at the Kirov market in Samara, Russia’s sixth-biggest city 500 miles southeast of Moscow, or indications it was connected to terrorism or was a violent offshoot of a commercial dispute.

Regional prosecutor Alexander Yefremov said the bomb was made of plastic explosives.

FRANCE

Mayor to go ahead with gay ‘wedding’

BEGLES — A French mayor defied Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin yesterday by vowing to press ahead with France’s first homosexual “wedding.”

The two men who plan to ‘wed’ today in the southwestern town of Begles near Bordeaux have gone into hiding from the press. Begles Mayor Noele Mamere, a Green Party member of parliament, has faced threats over the “wedding” plan.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben says the “marriage” will be invalid, and Mr. Raffarin told parliament this week that any officials performing same-sex “weddings” would “incur the punishment laid out by the law.”

French law allows civil unions between homosexuals.

TURKEY

Egypt says it owns seized weapons

ANKARA — Egypt says it is the owner of a rocket launcher, a remote-controlled missile and other weapons seized at an Istanbul port, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday.

The weapons were discovered Wednesday aboard a cargo ship docked near Istanbul and en route from Ukraine. Turkish authorities were still questioning the captain and searching the vessel.

Security has been tightened in Istanbul ahead of the June 28-29 NATO summit that will draw more than 40 world leaders, including President Bush.

Turkish officials earlier said the ship was smuggling weapons and the ship’s documents claimed the containers only held “spare parts.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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