- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

SPAIN

U.S. soldiers indicted in journalist’s death

MADRID — A judge indicted three U.S. soldiers yesterday in the 2003 death of a Spanish journalist who was killed when their tank opened fire at a hotel in Baghdad.

Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp were charged with homicide in the death of Jose Couso and “a crime against the international community.” This is defined under Spanish law as an indiscriminate or excessive attack on civilians during wartime.

At the time of the incident, April 8, 2003, all were from the 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. Judge Santiago Pedraz asked U.S. authorities to notify them of the indictment.

ESTONIA

Police, rioters clash over war monument

TALLINN — Police fired rubber bullets and a water cannon at hundreds of protesters in Estonia’s capital yesterday in a second night of rioting by ethnic Russians angry over the removal of a Soviet war memorial — an act that also aggravated tensions with the Kremlin.

As some people waved Russian flags, demonstrators threw bottles and rocks for several hours, then largely dispersed after officers advanced on the crowd and began making arrests. Several parked cars were smashed and some billboards were set on fire.

The clashes underlined the feuding between ethnic Estonians and Russians since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many Russian-speakers contend they are discriminated against, and they are being supported by a newly oil-enriched Russia that is growing increasingly assertive in the region.

RUSSIA

18 killed as copter crashes in Chechnya

ROSTOV-ON-DON — A Russian military helicopter heading to a battle with separatist rebels crashed in Chechnya yesterday killing all 18 persons aboard, emergency officials said.

There were conflicting reports about whether the Mi-8 helicopter was shot down, but the crash en route to a military operation underlined the persistence of Chechnya’s insurgency years after the most recent major fighting.

It was the largest single-day loss of life reported by the Russian military in Chechnya in at least two years.

The helicopter went down while flying to southern Chechnya as part of an operation against militants, an official said. The operation was in the Shatoi region, deep in the rugged Caucasus Mountains. Small rebel bands take shelter there, eluding Russian troops in the thick forests and deep ravines.

VENEZUELA

Chavez wants missiles, to ward off attack

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said yesterday his government wants to develop short-range missiles to defend the country’s airspace and purchase other arms to safeguard Venezuela from foreign attack.

The leftist leader, who has repeatedly accused the United States of planning to invade his oil-rich nation, said Venezuela had test fired missiles on Thursday but it was not clear what kind of projectiles he was referring to.

“We’re going to have a tremendous air-defense system, and with missiles capable of reaching 200 kilometers [about 125 miles],” Mr. Chavez said yesterday during a televised speech. “[It] will convert Venezuela into a nation truly invulnerable to any external threat, invulnerable to any plan of aggression.”

TURKEY

Presidential hopeful loses first round

ANKARA — The ruling party’s presidential candidate , Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, failed yesterday to win enough votes in a first round of voting in parliament — an election marked by tensions between the Islamic-rooted government and defenders of Turkey’s secular ideals.

Most opposition legislators boycotted the first round of voting and appealed its validity in the Constitutional Court. The boycott was aimed at depriving Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party of the two-thirds majority the opposition says is needed for the vote to be valid.

CHINA

Party chiefs attend bishop’s funeral

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Communist Party leaders attended the funeral of the most prominent leader of China’s state-controlled Catholic Church yesterday in an unusual gesture of respect.

Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan died of cancer last week, opening a vacancy in the sensitive Beijing diocese at a time when China and the Vatican are warily exploring restoration of formal ties.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Vice President Zeng Qinghong and parliamentary chief Wu Bangguo were also seen bowing to pay their respects.

AFGHANISTAN

District retaken from Taliban

KABUL — Hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police retook a district outside the capital from the Taliban yesterday, pushing out militants who had seized the area in fierce fighting a day earlier, a senior Afghan official said.

Officials said more than 100 suspected Taliban fighters attacked Giro in Ghazni province, just 110 miles from Kabul, on Thursday evening, setting fire to buildings and cutting telephone lines. The district mayor, police chief and three policemen were killed during several hours of fighting.

GERMANY

Mother abandons 4 children for months

BERLIN — A 46-year-old German woman left four young children to fend for themselves after moving in with her boyfriend nearly a year ago, police said yesterday.

The police rescued the children from a squalid apartment in Berlin on Thursday. The eldest child, a 12-year-old boy, had been struggling to take care of his 8-year-old brother and two sisters, ages 9 and 11.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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