- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2006

SOMALIA

President escapes assassination attempt

MOGADISHU — A car bomb exploded in Baidoa, the seat of Somalia’s virtually powerless government yesterday, killing five persons, including the president’s brother, in an apparent assassination attempt, officials said.

Six attackers were killed in the ensuing gunbattle.

President Abdullahi Yusuf escaped unharmed, government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.

Government officials accused al Qaeda of being behind the attack.

IRAQ

Suicide bombers kill at least 35

BAGHDAD — Bombs killed at least 35 persons at a police recruitment center in central Iraq and in a market in the north yesterday, as politicians wrangled over a federation bill some fear could unleash sectarian civil war.

U.S. officials have warned of a spike in violence by al Qaeda and other Sunni militant groups fighting the U.S.-backed Shi’ite-led government ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which starts next week. On Sunday, a wave of car bombs struck the volatile, ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, killing 23.

In yesterday’s worst bloodshed, a bomb killed 22 persons in a market in the city of Tal Afar, north of Baghdad, local police said. Earlier, a suicide car bomber killed 13 persons in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Kazakhstan

Female space tourist takes $20 million ride

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — An Iranian-American telecommunications entrepreneur took off yesterday on a Russian rocket bound for the International Space Station, achieving her dream of becoming the world’s first paying female space tourist.

Anousheh Ansari was accompanied by a U.S.-Russian crew on the Soyuz TMA-9 capsule, which entered orbit about 10 minutes after liftoff from the Russian cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Mrs. Ansari reportedly paid $20 million to become the fourth private astronaut to take a trip on a Russian spacecraft and visit the station.

Mrs. Ansari’s husband, Hamid Ansari, watched the liftoff stoically, but her sister’s face was streaked with tears and her aunt jumped up and down, shrieking and pumping her arms in the air.

JAPAN

Sanctions set for North Korea

TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet today approved financial sanctions against North Korea to increase pressure on Pyongyang to return to six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and missile programs.

The steps will effectively freeze remittances and the transfer of financial assets to North Korea by those suspected of links to the development of weapons of mass destruction.

The clampdown — which tightens a requirement to get government permission for such fund flows — is in line with a U.N. resolution passed after North Korea defied international warnings and test-fired seven missiles in July.

SPAIN

Historic accords on Gibraltar signed

CORDOBA — Britain, Spain and Gibraltar yesterday signed a range of “historic” agreements, allowing joint use of Gibraltar airport and ending a long-standing pensions dispute, after ministerial talks in the southern Spanish city of Cordoba.

The signing by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon and Gibraltar’s chief minister, Peter Caruana, culminated 20 months of talks to cast off years of quarreling about the status of the “Rock” and its 27,000 inhabitants.

Mr. Moratinos said Spain was not renouncing its sovereignty claim, but said all parties recognized the way ahead was through cooperation, which meant putting historical differences aside.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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