- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Coalition wrests town from Taliban

KANDAHAR — More than 40 insurgents were killed yesterday as hundreds of coalition troops, many dropped by helicopter, wrested a desert town from the Taliban, officials said.

Before dawn, more than 300 British paratroopers, backed by hundreds of U.S. and Canadian forces, conducted a raid in Sangin, where hundreds of Taliban had amassed in preparation for attacks, said coalition spokesman Maj. Scott Lundy.

Coalition forces will remain in Sangin until the Taliban threat has been wiped out and Afghan authorities can reach out to impoverished residents to promote reconstruction efforts, Maj. Lundy said.

MEXICO

Lopez Obrador backers camp in the capital

MEXICO CITY — About 6,000 supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have set up camp in the Mexican capital ahead of a demonstration planned for today, a top city official said.

The number of demonstrators traveling from across Mexico was likely to swell overnight ahead of the event, said Ricardo Ruiz, a top Mexico City official.

Officials set up a camp for them in a public plaza near the city’s historic center, with emergency personnel and police on hand in case they are needed, he said.

Mr. Lopez Obrador is challenging results of the July 2 election, after losing to conservative Felipe Calderon by about 244,000 votes out of the 41.7 million ballots cast.

IVORY COAST

Signatories discuss voter registration

ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny yesterday met signatories to the country’s 2003 peace deal as the long-awaited voter identification process began to get underway.

The parties met for more than four hours for what Mr. Banny’s communications adviser Frank Kouassi described as an “information session” to discuss the registration, an essential step toward United Nations-sponsored elections due in October.

HONDURAS

Report: U.S. to help build military bases

TEGUCIGALPA — The United States is helping Honduras establish a new military base to combat international drug trafficking, according to a senior military official quoted in a Honduran newspaper yesterday.

The base, planned for the northeastern province of Gracias a Dios near the Nicaraguan border, will allow Honduras to house aircraft and a fuel-supplying system, according to the newspaper, La Prensa.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, more than 100 tons of cocaine from Colombia destined for the United States passes through Honduras each year.

The United States also has maintained the Enrique Soto Cano air base, known as Palmerola, in Honduras for 23 years.

HAITI

Aristide supporters hold birthday march

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Thousands of demonstrators demanding the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide marched to Haiti’s National Palace yesterday, pushing past riot police in a dramatic show of support for the exiled former leader.

The march coincided with Mr. Aristide’s 53rd birthday and marked the largest display of support in months for the deposed leader, who fled Haiti in February 2004 amid a violent uprising and has been living in South Africa.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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