- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

INDONESIA

Iran’s leader warns of backfire at talks

JAKARTA — Iran’s president said yesterday he was ready to hold talks about his country’s nuclear program, but he warned that efforts to force Tehran to the negotiating table with threats could backfire.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also made a scathing attack on Israel and told more than 1,000 cheering Muslim students in the Indonesian capital that the West was being hypocritical in pressing Iran to stop its uranium-enrichment program.

Key U.N. Security Council members agreed Tuesday to postpone a resolution that would have delivered an ultimatum to Tehran, giving Iran another two weeks to re-evaluate its insistence on developing its uranium-enrichment capabilities.

SRI LANKA

50 rebels killed, 17 sailors missing

COLOMBO — At least 50 rebels were killed and 17 Sri Lankan sailors missing after a sea battle yesterday instigated by the Tamil Tigers left the country on the brink of civil war.

Tamil Tigers sank a navy patrol boat off the northern coast as it escorted a troop transport carrying 710 soldiers. In retaliation, the navy downed five rebel vessels and the air force launched air strikes on guerrilla-held territory.

The escalation in violence could mark a return to civil war, as a 2002 cease-fire that stopped almost two decades of fighting appears increasingly unlikely to last.

NIGERIA

Foreign oil workers kidnapped in Delta

PORT HARCOURT — Three foreign oil workers, including one Italian, were kidnapped from a car under armed escort in Nigeria’s oil capital Port Harcourt yesterday, a day after a U.S. oil executive was fatally shot in the same city.

Police and industry sources said the abduction of the employees of Italian oil contractor Saipem was sparked by a dispute between the company and a community where it is working and that efforts were under way to secure their release.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma’s rape accuser flees country

JOHANNESBURG — An HIV-positive woman who sparked a storm when she laid a charge of rape against former Deputy President Jacob Zuma has left South Africa after his acquittal, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The 31-year-old AIDS activist boarded an overseas flight late Wednesday, the Star reported. The woman had entered the witness-protection program after laying the charge in December against Mr. Zuma, a one-time top contender to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

The woman was vilified by Mr. Zuma’s supporters during a court case that ended on Monday when the judge handed down a “not guilty” verdict to the former deputy.

FRANCE

Al Qaeda video urges Europe attacks

PARIS — A video by an al Qaeda member posted on the Internet yesterday called upon Muslims to attack Denmark, Norway and France for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

“Muslims avenge your prophet. … We deeply desire that the small state of Denmark, Norway and France … are struck hard and destroyed,” declared Libyan Mohammed Hassan, who escaped from U.S. custody at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in July.

“Destroy their buildings, make their ground shake and transform them into a sea of blood,” said Hassan, dressed in military fatigues and a black turban, and holding an assault rifle.

Hassan was one of four Arab terror suspects who broke out of the high-security detention facility at Bagram, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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