- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007


Five Americans dead in copter crash

KABUL —Five Americans and two other soldiers died when a Chinook helicopter apparently was shot down yesterday evening in Afghanistan’s most volatile province, a U.S. military official said. The Taliban took responsibility.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said other troops rushing to the scene were ambushed and had to call in air support to drive off their attackers.

Initial reports suggested that the helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, said the U.S. official. NATO said there were no survivors. Along with the five Americans, two soldiers from Britain and Canada who had been passengers also were killed, military officials said.


Thaksin’s party ordered disbanded

BANGKOK — A court disbanded the political party of Thailand’s ousted prime minister yesterday, barring him and 110 party executives from politics for five years over election law violations.

The Constitutional Tribunal issued the ruling after a guilty verdict against the Thai Rak Thai Party for financing obscure parties to run against it in elections last year to circumvent turnout rules. The court also disbanded three smaller parties, two of them hired by Thai Rak Thai.

The party’s demise began after the military overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September. The bloodless coup followed demonstrations by people demanding Mr. Thaksin’s resignation and accusing him of corruption.


Pope blesses missing girl

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI held the hands of the parents of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, blessing them and a photo of the girl as they asked for prayers yesterday for their daughter, who disappeared while vacationing with her family in Portugal.


Ethiopian troops fire on bystanders

MOGADISHU — Ethiopian troops fatally shot five bystanders yesterday after a land mine exploded as their convoy passed through the center of a western Somali town, police said.

A remote-controlled land mine detonated in the town of Belet Weyne as the last vehicle in the convoy, a water tanker, passed.

It was the first time that an Ethiopian army convoy has been attacked outside the capital, where Ethiopian trucks have been frequently targeted. The Ethiopian troops are backing Somalia’s fragile government against radical Islamic insurgents.


Peres joins race for president

JERUSALEM — Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced his candidacy yesterday for president of Israel, an office tarnished by rape and other sexual misconduct accusations against its current occupant, Moshe Katsav.

Mr. Peres, 83, is Israel’s elder statesman, and the presidency would cap 60 years of public service at the highest levels. He ran for president seven years ago, but in a secret ballot, parliament gave the post to Mr. Katsav, a junior politician who won the support of a prominent Israeli spiritual leader.


Power cutoff blamed in death

WELLINGTON — A 44-year-old woman who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home because of a $122 unpaid bill, her family said yesterday.

Police said they are investigating Folole Muliaga’s death, which happened within two hours after state-owned company Mercury Energy cut power to her house Tuesday.

Mrs. Muliaga, a schoolteacher with four children ages 5 to 20, had been off work since February with an illness and had fallen behind in her payments to Mercury.


Escaped terrorist threatens royals

CAIRO — An al Qaeda militant who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan turned up in an online video posted yesterday, assailing the Saudi royal family for its alliance with the United States.

The 45-minute video of Abu Yahia al-Libi, who broke out of the Bagram air base prison north of Kabul in 2005, was monitored by the IntelCenter, a U.S. government contractor that watches for al Qaeda messaging.


Septuagenarian conquers Everest

KATMANDU — A 71-year-old has become the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, mountaineering officials confirmed yesterday, after the Japanese retired schoolteacher returned from scaling the world’s highest peak.

Katsusuke Yanagisawa was 71 years, 2 months and 2 days old when he reached the 29,035-foot peak on May 22, beating the previous record set last year by another Japanese climber, Takao Arayama, who was 70 years, 7 months and 13 days old.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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