- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Surge in violence seen at 30 percent

KABUL, Afghanistan — Violence in Afghanistan has surged nearly 30 percent this year and suicide bombings are inflicting a high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

The report said Afghanistan is averaging 550 violent incidents a month, up from an average of 425 last year. It said three-fourths of suicide bombings target international and Afghan security forces, but suicide bombers also killed 143 civilians through August.

“Suicide attacks have been accompanied by attacks against students and schools, assassinations of officials, elders and mullahs, and the targeting of police in a deliberate and calculated effort to impede the establishment of legitimate government institutions,” according to the report, which was released in New York last week.


Diplomat at U.N. rails against U.S.

NEW YORK — A day after holding rare talks with a top U.S. envoy, Venezuela’s foreign minister railed against the United States yesterday for the “death and destruction” in Iraq and warned the world not to allow a similar war with Iran.

Nicolas Maduro’s fiery speech before the U.N. General Assembly contrasted with the Venezuelan government’s description of his “cordial meeting” with Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the top U.S. envoy for the Americas.


Gates makes first visit to Latin America

SAN SALVADOR — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates began a five-nation tour of Latin America yesterday, visiting governments Washington regards as friendly in a region increasingly leaning left.

The Pentagon chief landed first in El Salvador, the only Latin American country with troops in Iraq, and met with President Elias Antonio Saca, the minister of defense and military chiefs.

El Salvador has 280 troops in Iraq.

Mr. Gates, on his first trip to the region as defense secretary, aimed to highlight El Salvador’s assistance with U.S. military activities in the Middle East and in hosting U.S. counter-narcotics operations at the Comalapa air base.

Comalapa is the newest of four bases the U.S. military uses to run missions targeting the drug trade, and Mr. Gates’ visit comes after the host of another site, Ecuador, refused to renew the Pentagon’s lease on the Manta air base.


Diana’s death inquest opens

LONDON — The inquest into Princess Diana’s death in a Paris car crash 10 years ago opened yesterday with accusations that the British royal family ordered her death.

Mohamed al-Fayed, whose son Dodi also died in the crash after a brief but high-profile romance with Diana, said the couple were killed on the orders of Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Phillip, Diana’s former father-in-law.

Investigations by French and British police concluded the deaths were a tragic accident caused by a speeding ntoxicated chauffeur.


Police seek motive after bomb scare

VIENNA — Austrian police are investigating the motive of the Bosnian who tried to enter the U.S. Embassy in Vienna carrying an explosives-filled backpack Monday, an official said yesterday.

A security official said the man, identified by newspapers as Arsim C., seemed “confused” and had been in psychiatric care in the past.

He ran away from the embassy after his backpack triggered metal detectors. He dropped the bag in the next street and was arrested.

A search of his home produced about 1.1 pounds of plastic explosives.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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