- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2006


United States halts issue of visas

TEGUCIGALPA — The United States has stopped issuing travel visas to Hondurans indefinitely, saying lax rules in the Central American nation let third-country nationals obtain local passports used for travel to America.

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras said yesterday it had ordered the issue of all new visas to Hondurans suspended. Last week, local authorities arrested two Cameroon citizens trying to obtain Honduran passports using fake identity documents.

Central America is seen as a relatively easy route to the United States by some African and Asian immigrants. Last week, Honduras warned it had become a new route for Cuban immigrants bound for the United States, with an increasing number washing up on the Caribbean coast on their way to the U.S. border.


14 face trial for 2005 bombings

CAIRO — Fourteen Egyptians went on trial yesterday on charges connected with two bombings that targeted tourists in the capital Cairo in April 2005.

An American, two French citizens and the bomber were killed in the first attack in the bazaar area of the old city. In a second bombing near the Egyptian museum three weeks later, seven persons were wounded and the bomber was killed.

The defendants all denied charges that they helped the bombers, either by providing money, reconnoitering targets or collecting materials to make the explosives.


Troops battle rebels from sea, air

MANNAR — Sri Lankan troops in boats and helicopters battled Tamil rebels yesterday, and witnesses accused government forces of opening fire in a fishing village, killing five persons — one inside a church — and wounding dozens.

The surging violence heightened fears that the island nation was moving toward a return to all-out civil war. The past several days have seen the worst violence since a 2002 cease-fire between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who control much of Sri Lanka’s north and east.

Tamil Tiger rebels said they had killed 12 soldiers; the navy said three sailors were killed and eight were missing. The military said up to 30 rebels were killed in the fighting, but rebels acknowledged only two wounded.


45 more Taliban killed in raids

KABUL — Afghan and coalition troops killed about 45 insurgents in attacks on Taliban camps in southern Afghanistan as U.S.-led forces pressed on with their largest offensive since 2001, military officials said yesterday.

A total of about 85 suspected militants have been killed in the past week as some 10,000 U.S.-led troops spread out over four southern provinces in the campaign dubbed Operation Mountain Thrust aimed at quelling a Taliban resurgence.

An estimated 40 fighters were killed Friday when coalition forces surprised militants as they gathered at a camp in Khod Valley, part of Shahidi Hassas district of Uruzgan province.


Investigation urged into reporter’s death

ISLAMABAD — An international press freedom group has called for a full investigation into the killing of a Pakistani journalist, abducted last year after reporting that an al Qaeda leader had been killed by a U.S. missile.

The journalist, Hayatullah Khan, was found dead Friday. He had been shot in the back of the head, probably on Thursday, and dumped in mountains outside the town of Mir Ali, in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, an official said.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Pakistani government to find those responsible.

Mr. Khan covered security issues for various publications including the Nation English-language newspaper and several foreign news organizations. Unidentified gunmen abducted him in Mir Ali on Dec. 5.


Terror suspect deported to Algeria

LONDON — A man described as a senior member of a terrorist group linked to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was deported from Britain to Algeria yesterday, the Home Office said.

The man, who can only be identified by the initial “I,” was returned to Algeria after voluntarily dropping his appeal against deportation moves by the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He was the second Algerian security suspect to be deported from Britain this weekend after a man identified only as “V” was flown to Algiers on Friday.


Opposition seen leading in vote

BRATISLAVA — Slovaks voted in a general election yesterday, the first since the country joined the European Union and NATO two years ago, with opinion polls pointing to the main left-wing opposition party, Smer, as the top vote-getter.

Observers caution that the new government will be a coalition formed among the seven parties — out of 21 in contention — likely to pass the 5 percent threshold required to win seats in the 150-member parliament.

Reforms by the government of free-market, center-right Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda have brought strong economic growth — at 6.1 percent the highest in Central Europe — but unemployment has remained stubbornly high at 15.5 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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