- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

SRI LANKA

Tiger rebels’ bases captured, military says

COLOMBO — Sri Lankan troops captured four Tamil Tiger bases and inflicted heavy casualties in the restive northeast before dawn yesterday, the military said, pushing on with an offensive the rebels warn could end in a bloodbath.

Ground troops backed by artillery and rocket launchers advanced overnight on rebel-held territory in the district of Trincomalee, killing at least 20 rebel fighters, a military spokesman said.

In a separate incident, suspected Tamil rebels ambushed an armored personnel carrier with a roadside bomb in the eastern district of Batticaloa, killing three elite police commandos and wounding 13.

A senior military officer, a park warden and six others were thought killed in a rebel attack in a wildlife reserve in the northwestern district of Mannar after witnesses reported seeing slain bodies in the distance.

PAKISTAN

Musharraf suspends chief justice

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s president has removed the Islamic nation’s chief justice for “misuse of authority,” Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani said yesterday.

Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, chief judge of the Supreme Court since 2005, had enjoyed a reputation for taking a tough line against government misdeeds and human rights abuses.

Opposition groups, lawyers and former judges expressed surprise over the dismissal, which underlined the power of the executive — dominated by President Pervez Musharraf — over the judiciary.

Speculation about reasons for Judge Chaudhry’s fall ranged from reports that he had misused his influence to secure official employment for his son, to recent court rulings that challenged the government’s authority.

PAKISTAN

Lawmakers criticize U.S. on aid-cut threat

ISLAMABAD — A group of Pakistani lawmakers threatened yesterday to halt counterterrorism cooperation with the United States if American military aid is made conditional on their country’s commitment to fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Pakistani and American leaders are concerned that the link, contained in a bill that has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives, could sour relations between Washington and a key ally against international terrorism.

Weekly notes …

Protesters in Indian Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar ransacked a restaurant, setting furniture ablaze, to protest what they charged were “immoral activities” taking place there. Daughters of Faith, an all-women separatist group, has been raiding restaurants and Internet cafes in Kashmir since 2005 to stop them from being used by dating couples…. A man in the Indian state of West Bengal, following a family tradition, invited 187 beggars to bless his son and daughter-in-law at their wedding and gave them a feast. Malay Saha scoured railway stations, streets, markets and temples to invite the beggars to the festivities held on Wednesday in Sodepur town on the outskirts of Calcutta. The Sahas also distributed clothes and fruit to their special guests.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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