- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2006

ITALY

Tunisians sentenced in terrorist plot

ROME — A Milan court yesterday sentenced four Tunisians for preparing terrorist attacks on the Milan subway system and on the cathedral in the northern Italian town of Cremona, ANSA news agency reported.

Samir Sassi and Abdelhakim Ben Said Sharif were sentenced to six years each and Mohamed Mannai to five years and four months after being found guilty of criminal association.

A fourth defendant, Moroccan Mohamed El Kaissi, received two years and four months for dealing in forged papers in connection with the same case.

The three Tunisians were charged with membership of a group linked to Ansar al-Islam, an international terrorist group with links to al Qaeda.

RUSSIA

Children draw Putin, winner to get puppy

MOSCOW — Children from across Russia have imagined President Vladimir Putin releasing doves from a hilltop, relaxing by the fireside or on holiday in the Black Sea in pictures drawn to celebrate his 54th birthday yesterday.

And with the prize of a puppy bred from the line of Mr. Putin’s beloved black Labrador Koni up for grabs in the “Children draw Putin” competition, many of the paintings on show in a Moscow gallery featured the pet.

“I love Russia,” proclaimed one picture, with Mr. Putin shown releasing doves.

BRITAIN

Blair pledges to back troops in Afghanistan

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged to give British troops in Afghanistan whatever equipment they need in their “very, very tough” fight against the Taliban.

Britain has faced unexpectedly fierce resistance since sending the first large foreign force to the southern province of Helmand this year as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission.

In an interview with the British forces’ broadcaster, Mr. Blair said: “If the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armored vehicles, for example, more helicopters, that will be provided. Whatever package they want, we will do.”

FRANCE

Smoking to be banned in public places

PARIS — France will ban smoking in most public places from Jan. 1, 2007, the France Soir newspaper said yesterday, and in bars, restaurants and hotels a year later.

The paper said Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was preparing to announce the two-stage ban soon. The prime minister’s office said he told a press conference on Wednesday he would make a statement on the subject in “a few days.”

Polls regularly show that a majority of French people support a ban on smoking in public places.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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