- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

AFGHANISTAN

6 civilians killed in U.S. air strike

KANDAHAR — At least six Afghan civilians were killed and seven wounded in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan’s central province of Uruzgan, officials said yesterday.

Many of the casualties in the Friday night raid on a village in the province’s Charcheno district were women and children.

A U.S. military spokesman said he was unaware of any civilian casualties. He said U.S. aircraft had pounded suspected Taliban positions in the province on Friday morning, not evening, in retaliation for the killing of two U.S. soldiers Thursday in a firefight in which five militants were also killed.

HAITI

Interim leader praises rebels

GONAIVES — Sharing a platform with rebel leaders, Haiti’s interim leader yesterday praised the gunmen who began the uprising that chased Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power.

About 3,000 people cheered as Prime Minister Gerard Latortue held his first rally in his hometown of Gonaives, where the rebellion started Feb. 5. He asked the crowd to hold a moment of silence for Amiot Metayer, the leader of the Cannibal Army street gang, whose death sparked the revolt.

Rebel leader Winter Etienne, self-declared mayor of Gonaives, said his fighters would surrender their weapons when a police presence is restored to the city.

COLOMBIA

Eleven killed by friendly fire

BOGOTA — Seven Colombian policemen and four civilians they had arrested were killed yesterday when an army patrol confused them with Marxist rebels in one of the country’s worst incidents of friendly fire, the police said.

One police officer survived the hail of army bullets in the incident in the countryside near the town of Guatarilla, near the border with Ecuador.

VENEZUELA

Poor catching flamingos for food

CARACAS — Poor rural Venezuelans are using nets and hooks slung under kites to catch endangered flamingos to eat or sell their meat as they try to ward off hunger, officials said.

In Falcon state in the South American nation’s west, children are hunting the long-necked birds despite attempts by the Environment Ministry to educate residents to protect them, said Francis Arias, mayor of the small town of Acosta.

A fourth of Venezuelans live in extreme poverty despite the nation’s huge oil wealth. The country is crawling out of a deep recession after two years of political conflict over the rule of President Hugo Chavez.

KUWAIT

Powell offers help with Iraq aid probe

KUWAIT CITY — The United States will help U.N. officials look into reports that Saddam Hussein diverted money from a U.N. aid program for Iraq, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday during a stopover in Kuwait.

Congressional investigators have charged that Saddam’s regime amassed $10 billion through oil smuggling, illegal surcharges and kickbacks from the U.N. oil-for-food program.

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