- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

WEST BANK

Captured journalist safe, Abbas says

RAMALLAH — Three international news networks held a joint broadcast yesterday calling for the release of British Broadcasting Corp. journalist Alan Johnston, a month after he was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the BBC he has “credible evidence that Alan was safe and well,” BBC director general Mark Thompson said.

The 25-minute broadcast by the BBC, Al Jazeera and Sky News — with a contribution from CNN — was part of a day of public events meant to put pressure on the kidnappers, including an appeal from Mr. Johnston’s father to “let my son go. Now. Today.”

ISRAEL

Vatican threatens boycott over exhibit

JERUSALEM — The Vatican ambassador to Israel threatened yesterday to boycott a Holocaust memorial ceremony next week over a museum’s portrayal of Pope Pius XII’s conduct during the Nazis’ killing of Jews in World War II.

Archbishop Antonio Franco said he had written to the director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum asking for the revision of a caption suggesting the wartime pope had been apathetic to the Jews’ plight.

The photo appears in a new part of the museum that was opened in 2005. Yad Vashem hosts Israel’s annual state ceremony to mark Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which will take place Sunday.

AFGHANISTAN

2 NATO soldiers killed by bombs

KANDAHAR — Roadside bombs struck two NATO convoys in eastern Afghanistan yesterday and killed two soldiers hours after an air strike by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 35 militants in the south, officials said.

The NATO convoys were patrolling five miles apart when they were hit by roadside bombs within 30 minutes of each other. A third soldier was injured. NATO did not identify the slain and injured soldiers, but most alliance soldiers in the east are American.

UGANDA

4 killed in protest over land deal

KAMPALA — Protesters stoned to death two persons of Asian origin yesterday during a demonstration against a Ugandan-Asian company that wants to grow sugar cane in this country’s largest natural forest, police said. Two others were also killed in the rioting.

The protesters also vandalized a Hindu temple in the capital. Police fired bullets in the air and used tear gas to disperse protesters, who chanted, “We are tired of Asians,” and “They should go back to their land.”

A subsidiary of the Mehta Group, which has businesses in both Uganda and Kenya working in sugar, cement and financial services, wants to use 17,000 acres — nearly a third of the Mabira Forest Reserve — to expand its sugar plantation in Uganda.

ISRAEL

Syrian-American addresses lawmakers

JERUSALEM — A Syrian-American businessman with ties to the Damascus government made an unprecedented appearance before an Israeli parliamentary panel yesterday, telling lawmakers that Syrian President Bashar Assad is ready to make peace with the Jewish state.

Ibrahim Suleiman told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he did not represent or speak for the Syrian government, but asserted he had high-level contacts with officials in Damascus.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Mr. Suleiman held several rounds of secret, unofficial talks with former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel. The countries’ leaders were aware of the talks.

PAKISTAN

Warring Muslim tribes announce cease-fire

PARACHINAR — Warring Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim tribes announced a cease-fire in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border yesterday after days of fierce clashes that killed about 40 people.

The clashes between the followers of two Muslim sects erupted in Kurram tribal region late last week after an exchange of insults during a religious procession in Parachinar, the region’s main town.

Authorities imposed a curfew in Parachinar April 6 and called the army to quell the violence. They engaged a traditional tribal jirga, or council of elders, to mediate peace between the two sides.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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