- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

RUSSIA

Overhaul is ordered for security services

MOSCOW — Russia will revamp its security forces and seek international cooperation to hunt down militants in the wake of a school siege in which more than 300 people were killed ten days ago, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said yesterday.

Mr. Ivanov said the overhaul will require a change of attitude among the Russian people and international support to succeed in a fight against Chechen militants.

Mr. Ivanov did not outline specific reforms, but his comments coincide with opinion polls showing that Russians have little faith in their corrupt security services and accuse the system of failing to prevent terrorist attacks.

ISRAEL

Route faces review for completed barrier

JERUSALEM — Israel is reviewing a 125-mile section of its West Bank barrier that has been completed in response to a High Court ruling, officials said yesterday.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government had promised changes to the route of uncompleted sections of the barrier, but had not previously suggested that it could shift any of the portion that already had been built.

A Justice Ministry official revealed that the completed section of the fence “is being reviewed” after a new court petition filed yesterday by an Israeli human rights group on behalf of Palestinian villagers who have been cut off.

MEXICO

Drug chief, 7 others killed in gunbattles

MEXICO CITY — Gunmen killed a boss of one of Mexico’s main drug cartels and two other persons in an ambush at a theater complex, prosecutors said yesterday.

Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, a chief of the Ciudad Juarez cartel, and his girlfriend died at the hands of paid killers in the northwestern town of Culiacan Saturday night.

The gunmen fled the scene in two sport utility vehicles, one of them armored, but clashed with police who had set up roadblocks on highways leaving Culiacan. Five of the assailants were killed in shootouts with police.

IRAN

Big military exercise begins close to Iraq

TEHRAN — Hundreds of thousands of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards began military maneuvers yesterday near the border with Iraq, with a top commander saying the exercise was designed to reinforce Iran’s resolve to defend itself against “big powers.”

Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, the chief of the Revolutionary Guards, told state radio that “hundreds of thousands” of troops were taking part in the nine-day maneuvers in western Iran.

Mohammed Bagher Zolqadr, a officer of the Revolutionary Guards, said the exercises would involve missiles, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan war prisoners freed in peace move

KABUL — Hundreds of Pakistanis jailed for fighting alongside the Taliban were released from an Afghan prison yesterday — a major gesture intended to improve strained relations between the neighboring countries.

Thousands of Taliban fighters were captured by Afghan factions who helped the United States oust the Taliban regime and scatter its al Qaeda allies after the September 11 attacks.

Some are thought to have ended up in mass graves in northern deserts. Many others have languished in crumbling Afghan jails, waiting for politicians to decide their fate.

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