Rumsfeld wins support on air base
BISHKEK — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld won assurances from top government officials yesterday that U.S. forces face no near-term deadline for withdrawing from an air base near the Kyrgyz capital that they use to support combat and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.
Though Mr. Rumsfeld did not publicly disclose what the United States might offer the former Soviet republic in exchange, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva said the defense secretary had pledged increased military assistance.
After his election on July 10, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had said that in light of progress toward stabilizing Afghanistan, it was time to consider a U.S. exit from Manas International Airport, where about 1,000 U.S. troops have been stationed since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001.
Sinn Fein leaders quit IRA command
BELFAST — Leaders of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party, have stepped down from the IRA command in a probable prelude to a new peace move, the Irish government said yesterday.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell said senior police had briefed him that Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, as well as Irish lawmaker Martin Ferris, recently were replaced on the IRA’s ruling seven-member command.
Van Gogh killer sentenced to life
AMSTERDAM — Judges yesterday handed down a rare maximum life sentence with no possibility of parole to the Dutch-born Muslim who confessed to — and expressed no regret for — shooting, stabbing and nearly decapitating filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
The murder stunned the country, heightened ethnic tensions and raised concerns about homegrown Islamic terrorism.
Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, mounted no defense at his two-day trial for the Nov. 2 slaying of Mr. Van Gogh, whom he accused of insulting Islam, and told the court he would do it again if given the chance.
Bouyeri seemed unfazed by the sentence, looking relaxed as he shook his attorney’s hand and strolled out with his guards.
Former warlord freed from prison
BEIRUT — Samir Geagea, the only Lebanese warlord punished for his role in the 1975-90 civil war, left jail after 11 years yesterday in a step toward reconciliation after the end of the Syrian tutelage he bitterly opposed.
Welcomed by supporters throwing rice and roses, the leader of the Lebanese Forces, the most powerful Christian wartime militia, was freed under an amnesty law the newly elected parliament, now dominated by foes of Damascus, passed last week.
Mr. Geagea, 52, had been serving four life sentences for political murders.
Protest mob tries to enter U.S. base
BAGRAM — More than 1,000 stone-throwing Afghans tried to break down an outer gate at the main U.S. base here yesterday while demanding the release of eight detained villagers, and Afghan troops fired warning shots and used clubs to beat the mob back. U.S. troops also fired into the air.
In southern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a provincial governor said about 50 suspected insurgents and two Afghan soldiers died during an overnight battle. It was one of the deadliest clashes in recent fighting between the government and militants heading into parliamentary elections.
From wire dispatches and staff reports