- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai orders inquiry into civilian deaths

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation yesterday into the deaths of at least 16 civilians in one of the deadliest U.S. air strikes since the American-led invasion in 2001. Another 19 persons, meanwhile, were killed in new violence.

Mr. Karzai expressed “concern at the coalition forces’ decision to bomb civilian areas” at the village of Azizi in Kandahar province, but he also strongly condemned the “terrorists’ act of cowardice” in using civilians as human shields. His office said that he would summon the commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan for a “full explanation.”

GREECE

Warplanes collide in disputed airspace

ATHENS — Warplanes from Greece and Turkey collided over the Aegean Sea as they shadowed each other yesterday in disputed airspace, and officials said the Turkish pilot was rescued unhurt.

Reports conflicted on the fate of the Greek pilot. A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said the Greek pilot died, but officials in Athens said a rescue operation was under way.

The two F-16 fighter jets collided over international waters near the island of Karpathos after two Greek jets intercepted two Turkish warplanes, both countries said. Greek officials said the Turkish planes were acting as escorts to an RF4 photo-reconnaissance plane.

SOUTH KOREA

Ministers OK talks on disputed islands

SEOUL — South Korea and Japan have agreed to hold talks on their disputed maritime border next month after a meeting of their foreign ministers on the sidelines of a conference in the Middle East, Korean officials said yesterday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, were meeting for the first time since December. Officials say they also agreed to work to improve ties that have been frayed by the dispute over islands.

BOLIVIA

Morales ally rejects Bush concerns

LA PAZ — A close ally of Bolivian President Evo Morales rejected comments by President Bush decrying “the erosion of democracy” in Bolivia, the state news agency said.

Mr. Bush said Monday that he was concerned about democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia, where Mr. Morales was elected with 54 percent of the vote in December on pledges to nationalize the energy industry.

BELARUS

Lukashenko threatens to ban overflights

MINSK — President Alexander Lukashenko suggested yesterday that he might ban Western flights over Belarus in response to sanctions in connection with his disputed re-election.

Addressing parliament, Mr. Lukashenko rejected any notion of a change in the policies denounced in the West and refused to consider any contact with his opponents.

The United States and European Union have barred entry to Mr. Lukashenko.

IRAQ

Dozens killed in bombings

BAGHDAD — A bomb planted in a motorcycle parked in the courtyard of a Shi’ite mosque killed 11 persons and wounded nine yesterday, part of mostly sectarian violence across Iraq that left 41 dead.

The mosque, in the mixed Tunis neighborhood of northern Baghdad near the Sunni Arab stronghold of Azamiyah, was attacked a couple hours before the capital’s 11 p.m. curfew.

An hour later, police said, a roadside bomb exploded outside a bakery in southeast Baghdad, killing three bystanders and wounding 12.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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