- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2006

VATICAN

Muslims accept papal invitation

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has invited Muslim envoys to meet with him at his summer residence Monday for what the Holy See says is urgently needed dialogue about the crisis ignited by his remarks on Islam and violence.

Turkey and Iran immediately said their representatives would attend.

The Vatican announced the pope’s invitations yesterday, saying they were extended to ambassadors to the Holy See from largely Muslim countries for a meeting at the papal palace at Castel Gandolfo.

EGYPT

U.S. denies entry to 4 Muslim clerics

CAIRO — The United States has denied entry to four Egyptian Muslim clerics sent to Florida to officiate at religious events during the approaching fasting month of Ramadan, Cairo airport officials said yesterday.

The last of the four, Zain el-Abdin Mohamed el-Sayed, returned to Cairo yesterday after U.S. immigration authorities refused to let him enter the country. The others flew home.

All four had valid U.S. visas and were going to Florida as part of an annual program organized by the Azhar, the Cairo-based institute of Muslim learning.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel quoted Sofian Abdelaziz, director of the American Muslim Association of North America in Miami, as saying U.S. immigration authorities held the clerics for 24 hours then deported them without explanation.

AFGHANISTAN

19 workers killed in ambush

KABUL — Militants ambushed a bus carrying construction workers in the country’s volatile south yesterday, killing 19 of the laborers, while Afghan and NATO forces said they killed 35 Taliban militants in two separate firefights.

The attack on the bus in Kandahar province began when a roadside bomb exploded near the vehicle, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

IRAQ

Sunni mosques attacked in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Gunmen opened fire on Sunni mosques and homes in a religiously mixed Baghdad neighborhood yesterday, killing four persons.

In other apparent sectarian violence, police found the blindfolded and bound bodies of nine men from a Sunni tribe who had been dragged out of a wedding dinner in east Baghdad the previous night by men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, police said. Four other bodies were found in other parts of the capital, again blindfolded and with their hands and legs tied.

THAILAND

Group of 100 protests coup

BANGKOK — Thailand’s new military rulers got their first taste of popular dissent yesterday when about 100 protesters defied a ban on public gatherings to denounce the army’s coup this week as undemocratic.

The military leaders, meanwhile, appointed nine persons to investigate corruption under ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and announced plans to write a new constitution to hold future leaders more accountable.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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