- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

COLOMBIA

Ecuadorean leader granted asylum

BOGOTA — Colombia has granted asylum to Lucio Gutierrez, Ecuador’s former president, who was fired by Congress in April and faces arrest in his home country, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Mr. Gutierrez, who faces charges of endangering national security by refusing to recognize his successor, President Alfredo Palacio, requested asylum after arriving in Colombia at the end of September.

Ecuador’s Congress fired Mr. Gutierrez in April for meddling in the Supreme Court, after major protests in the Andean country’s capital, Quito.

IRAQ

U.S. forces stage new offensive in west

HADITHA — U.S. troops pushed through streets sown with bombs yesterday in their biggest operation this year in western Iraq, seeking to retake three Euphrates River towns from al Qaeda insurgents. At least five U.S. service members have been killed in the fighting.

Operation River Gate, begun at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, was the second U.S. offensive in a week in Anbar province, near the Syrian border. Al Qaeda in Iraq called for intensified attacks in the Muslim period of fasting, which started yesterday for the nation’s Sunnis.

Blasts from U.S. warplanes and helicopters lighted the sky during the fighting, aimed at putting down Sunni-led insurgents. As with the earlier U.S. offensive, it appeared many fighters may have slipped away beforehand.

MEXICO

Deadly storm menaces coast

MEXICO CITY — Hurricane Stan smacked into Mexico’s Gulf Coast yesterday, forcing evacuations and shutting down oil ports after killing at least 51 persons in Central America.

The storm came ashore 85 miles southeast of the city of Veracruz as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of nearly 80 mph.

El Salvador was hardest hit with at least 39 reported deaths from mudslides and flooding. The toll in Nicaragua was six. Four persons were reported dead in Guatemala and two in Honduras.

PAKISTAN

Forces arrest Taliban spokesman

ISLAMABAD — The main spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, Abdul Latif Hakimi, was arrested at an undisclosed location in Pakistan yesterday, government ministers said.

Mr. Hakimi has been the main spokesman for the Taliban since it was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001. He was frequently in touch with reporters, speaking by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location, although Afghan and U.S. officials have long suspected he was in Pakistan.

SPAIN

New fence planned to keep out aliens

MELILLA — Spain will build a third high-security fence between its Melilla enclave and Morocco after illegal aliens repeatedly stormed two existing barriers, an Interior Ministry official said yesterday.

Hundreds of poor sub-Saharan Africans gathered in northern Morocco have stormed the fences repeatedly in the past two weeks in a bid to enter Europe. Five aliens were killed in a similar charge last week at Ceuta, Spain’s other enclave on the northern Moroccan coast.

NORTH KOREA

Kim expected to name successor

SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong-il soon could name his successor to head the hard-line communist nation, a Russian news agency reported yesterday.

The ruling Korean Workers’ Party celebrates its 60th anniversary next week, and an announcement of the North’s next leader could be timed to coincide with that event, an unidentified diplomatic official in Pyongyang told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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