- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2006

COLOMBIA

17 soldiers killed in rebel ambush

BOGOTA — Rebels killed 17 soldiers in an attack on a Colombian army patrol, officials said yesterday, in one of the worst setbacks this year for the government’s U.S.-backed fight for control of the country.

The late Thursday night ambush occurred in Norte de Santander province near the Venezuelan border and was carried out by rebels from the 42-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) using rifles and homemade mortars.

IRAQ

Italy completes troop pullout

NASIRIYAH — Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq yesterday, lowering the tricolor flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003.

Defense Minister Arturo Parisi read out the names of each of the Italian fallen, including secret serviceman Nicola Calipari who was fatally shot by U.S. soldiers in March 2005 as he escorted a freed hostage to Baghdad airport.

Under former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Italy deployed the fourth-largest contingent in Iraq with around 3,000 soldiers. But the mission was widely unpopular in Italy and Mr. Berlusconi’s successor, Romano Prodi, who won a close-run election in April, decided to pull the troops out by the end of the year. Italy hands control of the area to Australian troops.

UNITED NATIONS

Regional force urged for Somalia

NEW YORK — The United States circulated a U.N. Security Council draft resolution yesterday that would authorize a regional force to protect Somalia’s weak government and threaten Security Council action against those who block peace efforts or attempt to overthrow it.

The draft, obtained by the Associated Press, would lift a 1992 arms embargo against Somalia so troops in the “protection and training mission” could be militarily equipped.

U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said he expects council experts to discuss the draft on Monday “and then we’ll proceed as rapidly as we can after that.”

PHILIPPINES

Volcanic mud slide kills 469 in village

LEGASPI — At least 469 persons were dead or missing after rivers of mud and volcanic ash triggered by typhoon Durian swamped villages in the Philippines, disaster officials said today.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said the victims were all in the Bicol region, which bore the full brunt of the storm Thursday.

All the deaths were around the Mount Mayon volcano, where mud and ash flows driven by torrential rain swamped villages on Thursday night.

UKRAINE

2 ministers close to president fired

KIEV — Ukraine’s parliament, mounting its toughest challenge yet to President Viktor Yushchenko, yesterday fired two officials who played a key role in the 2004 Orange Revolution and promoted his pro-Western policies.

Parliament and the government have been at odds with the president since Viktor Yanukovych, the president’s nemesis since the big protests, was named prime minister in August. Each side has persistently tried to undermine the authority of the other.

Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, architect of Mr. Yushchenko’s policy of integrating with the West, and Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, a leading figure in the revolution that helped sweep Mr. Yushchenko to power, were two of a handful of pro-presidential officials who had remained in the Cabinet after Mr. Yanukovych was appointed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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