- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

IRAQ

Authorities close in on al Qaeda leader

BAGHDAD — Security forces are closing in on the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, a senior Iraqi official said yesterday, showing a captured video of the terror chief teaching followers how to build a car bomb.

The video showed Abu Ayyub al-Masri going through what appeared to be a storage bunker, pointing out elements of a car bomb in what National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called an instructional CD.

The U.S. military said yesterday that more than 20 terror suspects thought to be linked to al Qaeda in Iraq had been killed or captured in raids in the past week in Baghdad and nearby cities.

GEORGIA

Russian troops told to defend bases

TBILISI — The commander of Russian military forces in Georgia said yesterday his troops had been put on high alert and ordered to use lethal force to defend their bases as tensions mount over the arrest of four Russian military officers accused of spying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the Georgian authorities’ arrests as “state terrorism” and blamed unidentified foreign nations for the crisis.

But he ordered the Defense Ministry to continue the pullout of Russian troops from the former Soviet republic in line with earlier agreements in an apparent bid to avoid foreign criticism.

AFGHANISTAN

Americans to serve under NATO general

KABUL — NATO will soon assume direct control over most military operations in Afghanistan, a move that will place 12,000 more U.S. troops under its authority, a spokesman for the alliance said yesterday.

The expansion will consolidate military command under British Lt. Gen. David Richards and phase out the role of U.S. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, whose troops will be transferred to NATO, said an alliance spokesman in Kabul.

Of the 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, only 8,000 will function outside NATO control, he said. Those forces are tasked with tracking al Qaeda terrorists or involved in air operations.

THAILAND

Former army chief assumes top post

BANGKOK — Thailand’s military rulers swore in a former army chief as interim prime minister yesterday and proclaimed a stopgap constitution, keeping a promise to step back in favor of civilians within two weeks of their Sept. 19 coup.

Tanks that had stood outside Government House since the coup rolled back to the barracks, and four of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s most powerful ministers were released from army custody.

Army chief and coup leader Sonthi Boonyaratglin confirmed that Surayud Chulanont, a retired general, would be prime minister under a plan to gradually restore democracy.

BRAZIL

No survivors in crash of jetliner in jungle

BRASILIA — Authorities yesterday said there were no survivors among the 155 people aboard the Brazilian jetliner that crashed deep in the Amazon jungle.

The Boeing 737-800 apparently clipped a smaller executive jet in flight Friday. The smaller plane — carrying Americans — safely landed at a nearby air force base. But the 737 crashed in jungle so dense that rescue crews had to cut down trees Saturday to clear a space for rescue helicopters to land.

The Brazilian air force said in a statement that all 155 aboard the jetliner had died. Rescue workers had recovered two bodies by Sunday night, the statement said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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