- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GAZA STRIP

Israeli air strike kills 3 children

GAZA CITY — An Israeli air strike aimed at Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip killed three children standing nearby yesterday after Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz pledged to step up action against cross-border rocket salvos.

Witnesses said aircraft fired at least one missile at a car carrying Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade gunmen in Gaza City. The occupants managed to leap free, but a 7-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old were killed. Nine other bystanders, most of them minors, were wounded.

An Israeli army spokesman said the air strike had targeted militants wanted for attacks on Israel. The Islamic Jihad militant group said it fired two rockets into Israel to avenge the strike. No casualties were reported.

TAIWAN

Chen defends self in TV address

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), went on live television yesterday to rebut opposition charges of corruption and incompetence and to call for unity, battling the worst political crisis he has faced since coming to office in 2000.

The opposition Nationalist Party and People First Party have been pushing hard to unseat Mr. Chen, arguing that he is unfit to rule. Last week, they introduced a so-called “recall” motion during an extraordinary session of parliament.

Mr. Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-chen, has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in department store gift vouchers. His son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, has been detained since late May on suspicion of insider trading in shares of property firm Taiwan Development. Both have denied wrongdoing.

AFGHANISTAN

Troops repel Taliban; blast kills Romanian

BAGHRAN VALLEY — U.S. troops carrying out an anti-militant offensive fought off a Taliban attack on their mountaintop camp yesterday, while a roadside blast in the same part of southern Afghanistan left a Romanian soldier dead.

The Americans used machine guns and mortars to repel the attackers in Helmand province’s remote Baghran Valley. U.S. warplanes were called in to bomb a militant hide-out and the American military said a few of the fighters probably were killed.

In neighboring Kandahar province, a massive explosion tore apart a Romanian tank, killing one soldier and wounding three others, the Romanian Defense Ministry said.

SUDAN

Bashir vows to bar U.N. peacekeepers

KHARTOUM — Sudan’s president vowed yesterday to never allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur and said he would lead the “resistance” against any foreign force, his strongest rejection yet of U.N. plans for halting violence in the war-torn region.

Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir’s comments were likely to escalate tensions with the United Nations. A joint U.N. and African Union team was in Sudan to plan for deployment of a peacekeeping force.

“This shall never take place,” Gen. Bashir said at a press conference alongside South African President Thabo Mbeki. “These are colonial forces and we will not accept colonial forces coming into the country.

“They want to colonize Africa, starting with the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence. If they want to start colonization in Africa, let them choose a different place.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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