- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004

SPAIN

Madrid to double Afghanistan contingent

MADRID — Spain’s incoming government, under pressure over its plan to withdraw its troops from Iraq, has agreed to double the country’s contingent in Afghanistan to 250 soldiers this summer, an aide to the future defense minister said yesterday.

The Socialist Party, however, insisted that its plans to withdraw from Iraq remain firm.

PAKISTAN

Killed al Qaeda fighter was local operative

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s military today said an al-Qaeda fighter killed in an operation near the Afghan border was just a local intelligence operative.

“He is not really the intelligence chief for all al Qaeda, but he was one of the top intelligence people in Wana for al Qaeda,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said.

Gen. Sultan declined to answer questions whether the military had recovered the body.

MEXICO

British spelunkers head for home

MEXICO CITY — Thirteen British cavers, held by Mexican authorities after six of them had to be rescued from a cavern, were deported yesterday after officials determined that the expedition had violated their tourist visa regulations.

The group was taken under armed guard to the international airport aboard an immigration police bus with bars across the windows. Several pickup trucks with heavily armed federal police escorted the bus.

The detention triggered a diplomatic quarrel between Britain and Mexico after the explorers were accused of seeking uranium.

DOMINICA

Ties with Taiwan cut: Nation turns to China

ROSEAU — The island of Dominica switched diplomatic relations from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to its archenemy China yesterday after the communist state offered a $112 million aid package.

Taiwan responded hours later by breaking ties with the Caribbean nation, leaving it with diplomatic ties with 26 countries, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

IRAQ

U.S. military admits killing 2 journalists

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military acknowledged yesterday it was responsible for killing two journalists working for Dubai-based satellite channel Al Arabiya, who were shot near a checkpoint in the Iraqi capital earlier this month.

Al Arabiya cameraman Ali Abdelaziz died March 18 from a gunshot wound to the head. Correspondent Ali al-Khatib died from his wounds in a hospital the next day. Both were Iraqis.

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