- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007


69 Taliban killed in raids in south

KABUL — Afghan forces carried out what appeared to be their biggest independent operation ever against the Taliban, killing as many as 69 militants in fighting in the south that also left seven police dead, officials said yesterday.

Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan, suspected Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of trucks heading to a NATO base, killing 13 Afghans, an official said.

The Afghan army and police carried out a joint operation in the Gereshk district of Helmand province Thursday morning, but NATO-led troops were not involved in the operations, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman.


Musharraf: Keep politics off protests

ISLAMABAD — President Pervez Musharraf yesterday told lawyers protesting his removal of Pakistan’s top judge to stay out of politics, as critics and opponents seized on the growing judicial crisis to press for an end to his eight-year rule.

In a speech for Pakistan Day, marked with a parade showing off the nation’s military power, the general also urged people to help defeat foreign militants, scores of whom have been killed fighting local tribesmen near the Afghan border this week.

Lawyers have observed a nationwide strike and held rallies across the country since March 9, when Gen. Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, over accusations that he had abused his authority.


Charges filed in serial killings

NEW DELHI — Authorities said this week they have filed the first charges in the serial killings of 19 persons in a posh New Delhi suburb, a case that outraged India after relatives of the impoverished victims said police ignored their complaints as dozens vanished over two years.

Surender Koli, the servant of a wealthy businessman, had been charged with raping and strangling a 25-year-old prostitute as well as destruction of evidence, said Arun Kumar, a joint director of the federal Central Bureau of Investigation.

Mr. Koli’s boss, Moninder Singh Pandher, was charged with running a prostitution racket from the house, pressuring witnesses and bribing police officials not to investigate.

The dismembered remains of the prostitute were among those of 19 persons, most of them children, found in a storm drain next to Mr. Pandher’s house. Up to 38 persons disappeared during a two-year period, and nearly all the victims were from poor families working as servants in the area.

Weekly notes …

Water shortages are forcing authorities in India’s remote Andaman Islands to tap dozens of World War II wells as the tourist destination struggles to cope with an influx of visitors, officials said yesterday. The return of tourism after the 2004 tsunami, combined with a lack of rain, has caused severe shortages in the archipelago, located about 750 miles east of the Indian mainland. Authorities are rationing water and cleaning old wells dug by Japanese forces in the mid-1940s, but many people think this is only a temporary solution. … Authorities in Bangladesh said yesterday they had slaughtered more than 40,000 chickens at six farms on the outskirts of capital Dhaka where the country’s first case of bird flu was confirmed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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