- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Diplomat dies

Police in Cyprus yesterday found the body of the U.S. military attache with his throat cut on a remote mountain road four days after he was reported missing.

An autopsy confirmed that Lt. Col. Thomas Mooney died from a loss of blood “after the infliction of an injury to the neck,” a medical official told Agence France-Presse.

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“The injury was compatible with self-infliction. There was no evidence of foul play whatsoever,” added the official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified because he was not allowed to release the autopsy results.

Police confirmed that Col. Mooney died from a large wound to his neck but declined to attribute his death to suicide.

U.S. Ambassador Ronald L. Schlicher yesterday released the identity of his aide, who was last seen at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia on Thursday.

“After the notification of next of kin, with deep sadness, I announce that Lt. Col. Thomas Mooney, who served with distinction, was found dead by Cypriot authorities on Monday,” Mr. Schlicher said in a statement posted on the embassy Web site (nicosia.usembassy.gov).

Cypriot police ruled out homicide as the reason for his death after conducting a preliminary forensic investigation at the scene, according to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corp. In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed speculation that his death was an act of terrorism.

“I would not point you in the direction of an act of terrorism,” he told reporters. “I don’t think there is anything pointing in that direction.”

Mr. Schlicher added that police are still investigating the cause of death and that “any further information will be released as appropriate.” He acknowledged the “extraordinary support the Cypriot authorities and the Cypriot people have provided in locating Lt. Col. Mooney.” The ambassador canceled a Fourth of July celebration that was planned for yesterday evening.

Police found Col. Mooney, 45, a day after a man training his dogs on Sunday alerted authorities to an abandoned black Chevrolet Impala on a dirt road in rural Lefka, about 30 miles west of Nicosia. Col. Mooney’s body was found about 150 yards from his car, which was locked.

Col. Mooney, who was married with children, arrived in Cyprus a year ago on his second tour of the island nation.

Colombian cease-fire

The second-largest rebel group in Colombia is expected to sign a six-month cease-fire with the government sometime this month, according to a leading international security firm.

Control Risks, in a report released yesterday, said the cease-fire with the National Liberation Army, ELN by its Spanish initials, could lead to the release of 500 hostages and boost Colombia’s economy by removing rebel threats to the country’s mining and oil industries.

The London-based research firm, with offices in Washington and 16 other cities around the world, reported that the deal that could lead to the cease-fire has not been reported in Colombia because peace talks between the government and the rebels are held “under a media blackout.”

“Despite the failure of earlier peace initiatives, Control Risks believe that the prospects for a peace deal in the medium term are significantly higher this time because both the government and the ELN have clear incentives to reach an agreement,” the report said.

“Four years of sustained military action against the ELN and constant desertions have significantly reduced the group’s capabilities. The government will also be keen to secure a deal and may be more willing to compromise.”

The ELN is thought to comprise about 4,000 rebel fighters, while the larger insurgent army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, claims as many as 18,000 fighters.

Peace talks with the larger force are stalled by rebel demands for a demilitarized zone the size of New York City.

c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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