- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

AFGHANISTAN

American air strikes kill 15 to 20 militants

KABUL — The U.S. military said it killed 15 to 20 militants with air strikes yesterday after a joint patrol of U.S. and Afghan troops came under attack in southern Afghanistan.

The strikes in Helmand province came as Taliban guerrillas said they had executed a district police chief and seven other men from among 31 persons they were holding prisoner in the neighboring province of Kandahar.

There has been a surge of activity by the Taliban and allied militants in recent months in which hundreds have died, raising fears for the security of parliamentary elections to be held Sept. 18.

JAPAN

Koizumi attends Iwo Jima memorial

TOKYO —Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attended a memorial service on Iwo Jima yesterday, becoming the first Japanese leader to visit the Pacific island since its surrender after one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

At a newly refurbished memorial for the war dead, Mr. Koizumi pledged not to forget the troops lost by either side on the Japanese island, the first one that was invaded in the war.

“Their ultimate sacrifice has brought about today’s peace and prosperity,” Mr. Koizumi said before placing flowers.

ARUBA

Police question father of arrested teenager

ORANJESTAD — Police questioned the father of a Dutch teenager held in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, hoping the island justice official might know something to help solve the mystery of what happened to the Alabama honor student, officials said yesterday.

Paul van der Sloot was questioned Saturday night “as a witness, no more or no less,” said Police Superintendent Jan van der Straaten, who declined to elaborate.

Mr. Van der Sloot, a judge in training, is the father of Joran van der Sloot, 17, one of the persons last seen with Miss Holloway the night she disappeared. Three other men have been detained, but no one has been charged.

GUINEA-BISSAU

Coup-prone nation aims for stability

BISSAU — The people of Guinea-Bissau voted in a presidential election yesterday meant to end two years of transitional government in a country notorious for coups and uprisings since independence from Portugal in 1974.

The three main contenders are all former rulers of the impoverished West African country, which has been chronically unstable since a bloody army revolt in 1998, and some in the capital, Bissau, fear more turmoil once the results are announced.

Foreign observers said the vote in one of the world’s poorest countries appeared to be going well.

CUBA

Private businessmen face new pressures

HAVANA — Communist authorities in Havana have shut down thousands of private entrepreneurs in a drive to reorganize the tiny private sector and ensure that the businesses obey the law, the capital’s official weekly said yesterday.

“The process has included personal interviews, the checking of self-employed skills and study of where raw materials come from. … Up to now the licenses of 2,000 have been revoked,” the weekly Tribuna said.

The paper quoted a local labor official as saying the businesses would be checked every two years and would have to abide by the law, health standards and urban norms.


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