- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

2 NATO soldiers killed by bombs

KABUL — Two NATO soldiers were killed yesterday in separate blasts in southern Afghanistan, while three Taliban rebels died when a bomb they were planting exploded prematurely, officials said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which has around 37,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the resurgent Taliban, gave no further details about the dead soldiers.

ISAF said it would not release the victims’ nationalities before the relevant national authorities do so. However, the Netherlands said earlier yesterday that a 21-year-old Dutch corporal became the first Dutch soldier to be killed in action in Afghanistan yesterday when he stepped on a land mine during a foot patrol.

INDIA

Huge sigh of relief as Malakar exits ‘Idol’

NEW DELHI — Indians seemed relieved to see oddball star Sanjaya Malakar, whose father hails from India, exit the “American Idol” stage after a long and unlikely run.

While Mr. Malakar’s goofy hairstyles and lackluster singing captivated millions of Americans, his quirky appeal never resonated among Indians.

“Sanjaya is voted off American Idol — he’s the only one weeping,” read a front-page headline in the Indian Express, above a photo of his famous “ponyhawk” hairdo.

“Finally, Sanjaya sings his way out of ‘Idol,’ ” read a Times of India headline.

INDIA

Bollywood stars wed in Bombay

BOMBAY — Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, one of Bollywood’s best-known screen couples, married yesterday in a traditional Hindu wedding in which the groom rode a white horse before the pair took their vows around a sacred fire.

The ceremonies concluded three days of celebrations at the actors’ homes in India’s entertainment capital of Bombay, creating, what industry pundits said is, Bollywood’s ultimate power couple.

Miss Rai, 33, is a former Miss World and Mr. Bachchan, 31, belongs to Indian film royalty, being the son of Amitabh Bachchan, the country’s best-known actor who has a huge fan following around the world.

NEPAL

U.N. wants massacre of Maoists probed

KATMANDU — Nepalese police failed to stop the massacre of at least 27 Maoist supporters by ethnic activists last month, the U.N. human rights body said yesterday.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also called for a government investigation into the violence in the south of the country, which has cast a shadow over the country’s peace process.

The violence on March 21 broke out when supporters of both the Mahadhesi People’s Rights Forum, an ethnic activist group, and Maoists tried to stage a rally in the southern town of Gaur.

PAKISTAN

Tribe leader offers shelter to bin Laden

WANA, Pakistan — A pro-government tribal leader hailed by Pakistan for expelling foreign militants from a troubled border region said yesterday he would protect Osama bin Laden if he sought shelter with him.

Mullah Mohammad Nazir told a rare press conference in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan tribal district, that he had never met the al Qaeda chief but would help him in line with local traditions.

“Bin Laden has never come to this area but if he comes here and seeks our protection then according to tribal laws and customs we will protect him,” the 32-year-old former Taliban commander said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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