- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

IRAQ

British journalist freed by troops

BAGHDAD — Iraqi troops freed a kidnapped British journalist for CBS News yesterday after finding him hooded and bound in a house during a raid in a Shi’ite militia stronghold in Basra.

Richard Butler’s rescue after two months in captivity was a welcome success story for the Iraqi military, which has been strongly criticized for its effort to impose order on Iraq’s second-largest city, an oil hub 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The rescue occurred on a day in which at least 37 people were killed or found dead nationwide — half of them in bombings near or in the northwestern city of Mosul.

Roadside bombings killed two U.S. soldiers, one in Baghdad and the other in the northern Salahuddin province, the military said. At least 4,034 members of the American military have died since the war started in March 2003.

Mr. Butler, 47, was thin but in good condition and laughing as he was shown on Iraqi state television hugging well-wishers and greeting beaming Iraqi officials.

ITALY

Berlusconi wins third term

ROME — Media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi won a decisive victory yesterday in Italy’s parliamentary elections, setting the colorful conservative and staunch U.S. ally on course to his third stint as prime minister.

The victory in voting Sunday and yesterday by parties supporting the 71-year-old Mr. Berlusconi avenged his loss two years ago to a center-left coalition.

This was Mr. Berlusconi’s fifth consecutive national election campaign since 1994, when he stepped into politics from his media empire, currently estimated to be worth $9.4 billion. He has fended off challenges to his leadership by conservative allies, withstood accusations of conflict of interest and survived criminal trials linked to his business dealings.

PAKISTAN

Pro-Musharraf party rejects coalition offer

KARACHI — A party previously allied with President Pervez Musharraf has spurned an offer to join Pakistan’s new coalition government, officials said yesterday.

The government, led by the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has been trying to win over political rivals to help push through its agenda, including curbing the powers of Mr. Musharraf and restoring Supreme Court judges that he purged.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, had offered the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, a spot in government to keep tensions down and avoid violence.

MQM leader Farooq Sattar told reporters Sunday that the two parties could not work out their differences.

KENYA

Bid to free gang leader turns violent

NAIROBI — A notorious criminal gang exchanged gunfire with police and put up blazing roadblocks yesterday, threatening to spread violence nationwide unless authorities free their leader in an unsettling new danger for Kenya’s bloody postelection crisis.

The upheaval started before dawn and killed at least four people as members of the outlawed Mungiki gang protested the death of their imprisoned leader’s wife, who authorities said was found beheaded last week. They burned buildings and derailed a train in the capital.

The outbreak of violence occurred at a precarious time for Kenya, which just got a power-sharing government that was formed under international pressure in hopes of ending fighting that killed more than 1,000 people after the disputed election.

President Mwai Kibaki named opposition leader Raila Odinga as prime minister Sunday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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