Italian relief worker kidnapped in capital
KABUL — Armed men kidnapped an Italian woman working for the international relief agency CARE by pulling her from a car in the center of the Afghan capital last night.
Four men forced the woman into a white Toyota sedan in Kabul’s Shahr-e-Naw district at about 9 p.m., said Gen. Mahboubullah Amiri, a senior official in the Afghan Interior Ministry.
Italian state TV identified the woman as Clementina Cantoni of Milan. The Italian press agency ANSA said she had been working to help widows in Kabul.
Four countries bid for council seats
NEW YORK — Brazil, Germany, India and Japan yesterday began a process meant to secure their permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council by circulating a resolution to expand the body from 15 to 25 seats.
The four nations are lobbying for permanent seats on the council, which rules on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping operations. The Security Council has five permanent members with veto power — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 elected for two-year terms.
The initiative by the four contenders follows proposals issued earlier this year by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a major overhaul of the world body.
Women granted right to vote
KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s parliament passed a law yesterday granting women the right to vote and run in elections for the first time, after pressure from the pro-Western Persian Gulf Arab state’s government.
“We made it. This is history,” said prominent activist Roula al-Dashti. “Our target is the parliamentary polls in 2007. I’m starting my campaign from today.”
Outside parliament, young women and men danced and cheered, while passing drivers hooted horns in support.
Parliament speaker Jassim al-Khorafi said the legislation had been passed by a majority of the all-male parliament. There were 35 in favor, 23 against and one abstention on a vote that had met fierce resistance from Islamists, conservative tribal members and others.
Residents mourn victims of violence
ANDIJAN — Flowers dotted the streets and freshly dug graves scarred the earth across this eastern Uzbek city yesterday as residents mourned what witnesses said were hundreds killed by security forces last week — the worst unrest since the country won independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
New reports emerged that violence in nearby towns killed hundreds more, further threatening the stability of the government of President Islam Karimov, a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism.
The violence puts the United States in a difficult position because it relies on Mr. Karimov’s authoritarian government for an air base in the country and for anti-terrorism support.
Darfur summit opens without rebels
TRIPOLI — Libya hosted a summit of African leaders yesterday that aimed at finding peace in Darfur, but rebel forces from the war-ravaged Sudanese province chose to stay away.
A spokesman for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced in Cairo that the meeting of the leaders of Egypt, Eritrea, Libya and Sudan was a precursor to a broader summit today that would include the Chadian and Nigerian presidents.