- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006


Strong earthquakes flatten villages

TEHRAN — Three strong earthquakes and several aftershocks reduced villages to rubble in western Iran early yesterday, killing at least 66 persons and injuring about 1,200 others, officials said.

A series of quakes jolted the mountainous region throughout the night. They ranged in magnitude from 4.7 to 6.1, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The regional head of emergency response, Ali Barani, said about 200 villages were damaged, some flattened, and hospitals in Doroud and Boroujerd, industrial centers about 210 miles southwest of Tehran, were filled to capacity.

President Bush offered assistance, saying the United States cares about the Iranian people even though it has major differences with Tehran about its nuclear program.


Another month given for Mladic’s capture

BRUSSELS — The European Union gave Serbia another month to catch Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic yesterday after U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte said Belgrade’s cooperation with her tribunal had improved.

The EU had threatened to call off the next round of talks on closer ties with Serbia on Wednesday if Mrs. del Ponte judged Belgrade was dragging its feet over arresting the fugitive indicted for genocide during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Mrs. del Ponte had cited progress in Belgrade’s efforts “which gives a credible possibility of concrete results in the weeks to come.”


Jaruzelski charged for 1981 crackdown

WARSAW — Polish prosecutors filed charges yesterday against former communist strongman Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski for illegally imposing martial law in December 1981 to crush the pro-democracy Solidarity movement.

Gen. Jaruzelski’s communist government imposed army rule that lasted until 1983, rolling tanks out onto the streets and jailing thousands of dissidents, including charismatic Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

Gen. Jaruzelski, 82, who was questioned by the prosecutors on Friday, will soon be officially charged with a “communist crime.”


Capsized boat was overloaded

MANAMA — A cruise boat crowded with partygoers made a sudden left turn before capsizing in calm Gulf waters only a few hundred yards off the Bahraini coast, a survivor said. At least 57 persons drowned.

Bahrain television quoted the owners as saying the boat, an Arab dhow with high sides, was overloaded when it left port and capsized when most of its 137 passengers moved to one side.


First female leader sworn in to office

KINGSTON — Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller has been sworn in as Jamaica’s first female prime minister.

At a gala ceremony held at Kings House, the official seat of government, Miss Simpson Miller became the seventh prime minister of the Caribbean island since its independence from Britain in 1962.

She defeated three other contenders on Feb. 25 to become the first female president of the ruling People’s National Party.

The new prime minister broke with tradition when she opened her acceptance speech with a prayer and then vowed to tackle the rising incidence of crime and rid the country of corruption and extortion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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