- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006


Al Qaeda targeted in U.S. air strike

BAGHDAD — A U.S. plane launched an air strike yesterday against a building used by al Qaeda in Iraq, killing two militants, the U.S. military said. A car bomb exploded near the U.S. consulate in Kirkuk, killing two Iraqis and wounding seven others, Iraqi police said.

Four suspects were detained after the air attack, which took place southwest of Baghdad against extremists who had been staging mortar attacks on civilians, a U.S. statement said.

U.S. troops tracked the militants to a building and “coalition aircraft successfully executed the strike,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, four U.S. Marines have been killed in action in restive Anbar province, the U.S. military said yesterday.


Insurgents threaten to kill captive

SPIN BOLDAK — Taliban insurgents threatened yesterday to kill a Lebanese engineer captured in southern Afghanistan, a day before NATO takes over security in the south.

Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest phase of violence since the ouster of the Taliban government in 2001, with most violence occurring in the south where NATO will take over security from the U.S.-led coalition today.

Underlining the instability and danger NATO-led forces will face, a Taliban spokesman, Qari Muhammad Yousuf, told Reuters late on Saturday that militants had kidnapped an engineer working for a U.S. company.


Immediate cease-fire sought by pope

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI called for an immediate cease-fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon yesterday after an Israeli air strike killed at least 56 Lebanese.

“I cannot help but think of the situation, ever more serious and tragic, developing in the Middle East: hundreds of dead, many wounded, a huge number of homeless and displaced, houses and infrastructure destroyed, while in the hearts of many hatred and the desire for revenge appear to be growing,” the pope said.


James Bond’s Venice damaged by fire

LONDON — A large fire seriously damaged the set of the latest James Bond movie yesterday, caving in the roof of a sound stage transformed into a replica of Venice for the production of “Casino Royale.”

Pinewood Shepperton, the studio complex where the fire erupted, said filming for the Bond production had been completed.

The cause of the fire was unknown, and no one was hurt.


Chavez, Ahmadinejad embrace on stage

TEHRAN — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez enveloped his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a bearhug yesterday, as the two men planned to underscore their anti-U.S. rhetoric with a series of investment deals.

In a typically wordy speech, the robust ex-paratrooper lambasted their common enemy, Washington, as an “empire” that is a threat to humanity.


Island votes for next president

SAO TOME — Tiny Sao Tome and Principe voted yesterday in presidential polls with incumbent Fradique de Menezes tipped to secure another five-year term that could see the poor Atlantic archipelago off Africa’s west coast strike oil.

Some residents delayed polling in some areas in protest over poor public services, although disruption was much less serious than when angry demonstrators barricaded streets in a boycott of parliamentary polls in March.

The nation is thought to possess vast oil reserves.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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