No timeline set for prison transfer
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military said yesterday it will not hand over detention facilities or individual detainees to Iraqi officials until they have demonstrated higher standards of care.
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman, said the facilities will be transferred over time but that the Iraqis must first demonstrate they are following international law and not violating detainees’ human rights.
“A specific timeline for doing this is difficult to project at this stage with so many variables,” Col. Johnson said, confirming a report in yesterday’s New York Times. “The Iraqis are committed to doing this right and will not rush to failure. The transition will be based on meeting standards, not on a timeline.”
Christmas fireworks burn shanty
GUATEMALA CITY — Five children died early yesterday morning in a blaze after fireworks struck their home northeast of Guatemala’s capital during Christmas celebrations, a fire official said.
Their mother, Maria Clara Morales, said the children, aged from two to 13, were burned after a rocket fired in Christmas celebrations struck their house made of wood and cartons while she was out searching for another child. Volunteer firefighters reported that three other children were injured in separate fireworks incidents.
Heavy snow disrupts holiday
TOKYO — Heavy snow killed five persons in Japan over the weekend, disrupted holiday traffic and left thousands of households without electricity.
An express train running behind schedule because of the snow derailed in northern Japan yesterday evening. At least 16 persons needed hospital treatment, officials said.
In the western prefecture of Fukui, where snow had piled up to more than 78 inches in some areas, a factory building collapsed, killing a 72-year-old man, police said.
Some of the heaviest snowfall on record for December has hit the country since last week, even in some southern prefectures that rarely see snow, but Tokyo has been spared.
U.N. peacekeeper fatally shot
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A Jordanian soldier with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti was fatally shot during a patrol in Port-au-Prince, the Jordanian contingent said yesterday.
The soldier was killed Saturday in the huge Cite Soleil shantytown in the Haitian capital. Seven members with the U.N. mission in Haiti have been killed since the force was deployed in June 2004.
A Canadian police officer in the force was killed last Monday close to Cite Soleil, where there are many followers of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Haiti is due to hold elections next month, the first since Mr. Aristide quit and fled the country after a popular uprising in February 2004.
Funeral held for student leader
MOSUL, Iraq — Thousands of students and professors from the University of Mosul in northern Iraq took part yesterday in the funeral of a student leader found dead after he was kidnapped by unknown assailants.
The body of Qusay Salaheddin, president of the student union, was identified in the morning. He had been kidnapped on Thursday with one of his friends. The two bodies were found Saturday, handcuffed and shot in the head.
Mr. Salaheddin was elected this year by a 3,000-strong student body, and prior to his kidnapping, he led two demonstrations protesting the results of the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.
During his funeral, student chanted slogans accusing Kurdish and Shi’ite elements of the police force of involvement in his kidnap and killing.
From wire dispatches and staff reports