- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

British forces pull out of southern district

KABUL — British troops pulled out of a once-restive district in southern Afghanistan yesterday after reaching an agreement with tribal elders for Afghan forces to take over security duties.

A NATO spokesman in Kabul said the decision to withdraw British soldiers from Helmand province’s Musa Qala district followed an agreement with tribal elders and the provincial governor and was supported by President Hamid Karzai.

NATO also announced a new countrywide military operation with Afghan troops designed to maintain pressure on Taliban fighters during the fall and winter. Officials said fighting across Afghanistan killed 44 suspected Taliban militants.

BURUNDI

U.S. to accept 10,000 refugees

The United States will accept 10,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania from now through 2008, the State Department said yesterday.

“At the request of the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, and also working in cooperation with the government of Tanzania, where these refugees have been for many years, we are planning to offer permanent resettlement to a group of Burundian refugees who’ve been in western camps in Tanzania, some of whom initially fled from Burundi back in 1972,” department spokesman Tom Casey said.

ISRAEL

2 Palestinians killed in attack

GAZA CITY — A militant from the armed wing of Hamas and another Palestinian were killed by the Israeli army during an incursion into the north of the Gaza Strip yesterday, Palestinian hospital officials said.

The deceased militant was 21-year-old Zaher Atamani, of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Palestinian Islamist movement. He was shot near the Jabaliya refugee camp when he fired anti-tank rockets against an Israeli tank.

The other victim was identified as Ghazi Abu Dahruj, 25, but medical officials could not immediately say whether he also was an armed militant.

SUDAN

Government backs Janjaweed militia

LONDON — The Sudanese government is supporting the feared Janjaweed militia, which the United States accuses of genocide against non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, the BBC reported yesterday.

Citing an interview with a man identified only as “Ali,” a former member of the militia who admitted killing civilian villagers in Darfur, the BBC said that Sudanese soldiers trained Janjaweed militiamen and that the country’s air force bombed a village before the militia went in to kill villagers.

“Ali” served in the militia for two years and is currently seeking asylum in Britain. The BBC consulted with other Darfur exiles in Britain and presented the interview to a psychologist who studied his interview, all of whom believed him.

BRITAIN

Blair: Muslim veils ‘sign of separation’

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that Islamic head scarves are a “sign of separation” and Britain’s Muslims should be encouraged to integrate with mainstream society in order to improve the quality of their lives.

The issue gained attention two weeks ago when former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, now leader of the House of Commons, said Muslim women visiting his office should remove their veils. A Muslim teaching assistant in northern England was then suspended from her job for refusing to remove a black veil that left only her eyes visible.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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