Rebel fire damages U.S. warplane
BAMAKO — Rebel suspects hit a U.S. military plane with machine-gun fire after it dropped food to Malian troops pinned down in battle this week near the Algerian border, American and Malian officials said yesterday.
No one was wounded and the C-130 transport sustained only minor damage, said Maj. Pam Cook, a spokeswoman for the U.S. command in Stuttgart, Germany, which oversees Africa missions. The attack occurred between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning over the village of Tin-Zawatine.
Another U.S. official in Stuttgart, Air Force Maj. John Dorrian, said the plane was the only U.S. aircraft in Mali. It was there for a counterterrorism training exercise when the government made a rare call for help.
Malian officials called the gunmen “armed bandits,” a phrase the government uses for Tuareg tribal rebels active in the far north.
Abe hospitalized after resignation
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was hospitalized for stress and exhaustion yesterday, a day after announcing his resignation.
His party scrambled to find a replacement as calls grew for a general election.
Mr. Abe, 52, was to remain hospitalized for at least three days, his doctors said, leaving the care of his scandal-scarred government with his top deputy, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano.
Mr. Abe surprised members of his party and even his own Cabinet on Wednesday by announcing his resignation only days after he pledged to stake his government on the success of legislation to extend a naval mission providing fuel for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean.
Al Qaeda releases video of U.S. pilot
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An al Qaeda-led group in Iraq appealed to Americans yesterday to reject the policies of President Bush and issued a video apparently showing the remains of a U.S. pilot killed in a crash last year. The video posted on the Internet by the media arm of the Islamic State in Iraq showed the body of a dead man in a flight suit wearing a parachute harness and lying in an open area.
The video also showed an Air Force ID card bearing the name of Troy Gilbert, a U.S. pilot whose plane crashed in November. Originally listed as missing, he was declared dead based on human remains found at the site of the crash.
Blood banks closed after HIV infections
LIMA — Peruvian officials closed the country’s 240 blood banks after at least four persons were infected with HIV from blood transfusions in a public hospital.
Health Minister Carlos Vallejos said yesterday that the blood banks will be inspected by a commission that will include officials from the World Health Organization.
Consumer groups stage pasta strike
MILAN — Consumer groups urged Italians to refrain from buying pasta yesterday to protest rising prices for the beloved Italian staple, in a strike that was high on symbolic value but apparently low on real impact.
Consumer groups organized protests in Rome, Milan and Palermo — and even handed out free pasta, bread and milk to passers-by to help ease the pain for those who decided to support the strike.
Activists say Italians will soon be paying up to 20 percent more for their daily serving of fettuccine, spaghetti or linguine. They say prices are driven up by middlemen, while earnings for farmers and producers remain flat.
From wire dispatches and staff reports