- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2006

WEST BANK

Israelis arrest Palestinian official

RAMALLAH — Israeli forces arrested the speaker of the Palestinian parliament at his house in the West Bank early today and pressed their monthlong offensive in Gaza against Hamas.

About 20 Israeli army vehicles surrounded the house of parliament speaker Abdel Aziz Duaik, a member of Hamas, and took him into custody, said the director of the speaker’s office and security officers.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas called the arrest “another crime of piracy by the [Israeli] occupation against the elected representatives of our people,” and he called for international parliamentary action to win release for the speaker and the other arrested officials.

BOLIVIA

Convention to write new constitution

SUCRE — President Evo Morales’ drive to reinvent Bolivia takes a big step today with the opening of a convention to write a new constitution intended to end the centuries-old supremacy of the European-descended minority.

Mr. Morales, a leftist elected in December as Bolivia’s first Indian president, envisions the nationally elected Constituent Assembly as nothing less than the “refounding” of the country with a new deal for the Indian majority.

The assembly has up to a year to work on a new charter.

PAKISTAN

Retaliatory expulsions ordered with India

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and India each ordered the expulsion of one of the other nation’s diplomats, signaling deepening mistrust after bombings killed more than 180 in Bombay last month.

The expulsions were ordered less than a week after the two countries pledged to push a 2-year peace process forward.

Pakistan asked India to withdraw Deepak Kaul, a consular official at the Indian Embassy in Islamabad this week for suspected involvement in spying.

Hours later, an Indian Foreign Ministry official said a Pakistani diplomat also was being expelled.

EGYPT

Militant group said to join al Qaeda

CAIRO — Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al Zawahri, announced in a videotape aired yesterday that an Egyptian militant group has joined the terrorist network. It was the first time that al Qaeda has announced a faction in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation.

The Egyptian group, Gamaa Islamiya, is apparently a revived version of a militant group of the same name that waged a campaign of violence in Egypt during the 1990s but was crushed in a government crackdown.

Al-Zawahri said the Egyptian group was led by Mohammed al-Islambouli, the younger brother of Khaled al-Islambouli, the militant who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and was later executed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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