- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005


Troops surround top Taliban leaders

KANDAHAR — Afghan and U.S. forces surrounded an area yesterday in southwestern Afghanistan where senior commanders of elusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar could be hiding, Afghan officials said.

The operation, backed by U.S. helicopter gunships, came after a U.S.-backed offensive that officials said had killed more than 100 guerrillas where the borders of Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces meet, one of the Taliban’s bloodiest setbacks in years.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said captured guerrillas had revealed that Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brother, both members of the Taliban leadership council led by Mullah Omar, had been in the area of the fighting at least until Tuesday.


26 held on eve of presidential runoff

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that it has arrested 26 persons, including at least one military figure, on suspicion of electoral violations ahead of an unpredictable presidential runoff vote.

The arrests appeared to lend some credence to reformist charges that an inconclusive first-round vote on June 17 was marred by dirty tricks.

The reformists question a late surge in support, which carried hard-line Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into today’s runoff. Mr. Ahmadinejad faces former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in a vote that has split the Islamic state broadly along class lines.


2 toddlers crushed in demolitions

HARARE — Two Zimbabwean toddlers died when their homes were razed in a drive targeting illegal buildings that has left hundreds of thousands homeless, a daily said yesterday, as Amnesty International led a call for the United Nations and the African Union to intervene and help end the purge.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena issued a statement after the deaths asking police and others taking part in Operation Murambatsvina — meaning “Get rid of trash” — to be careful when demolishing shops and houses, Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper said.


5 terrorists killed in Baghdad firefight

BAGHDAD — American and Iraqi troops battled al Qaeda-linked terrorists holed up in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood yesterday, killing at least five militants apparently waiting to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Word emerged that a senior al Qaeda leader was killed in a U.S. air strike near Syria’s border. And in a devastating escalation in terror attacks in the capital, a string of car bombings that began late Wednesday continued yesterday morning with four more blasts that killed at least 15 persons and wounded 28.

In an Internet statement posted yesterday, al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi said Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud, a Saudi on the list of the kingdom’s 26 most-wanted terrorists, was killed in a U.S. air strike during fighting with U.S. and Iraqi forces. The campaign took place last weekend near the Syrian border in northwestern Iraq.


Monk, nuns charged in exorcism death

BUCHAREST — A Romanian monk and four nuns have been charged with murder after a nun died during an exorcism in which she was crucified and left without food for three days, a prosecutor said yesterday.

The case has caused an outrage in Romania. Daniel Petre Corogeanu, the detained monk, has been defiant, insisting that he was trying to take the devils out of 23-year-old Maricica Irina Cornici.

She died last week in a northeastern Romania convent after she was bound to a cross, had a towel stuffed into her mouth and left without food for three days, prosecutors say.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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