- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Two Marines die in suicide attack

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military says two American Marines have been killed in a suicide car bombing in Iraq.

A statement says the attacker detonated an explosives-laden car at an entry control point near Ramadi. The military says yesterday’s blast also wounded three other Marines, two Iraqi police officers and 24 local residents.

The city west of Baghdad is the capital of the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Anbar province.


Troops retake hijacked ship

BOSASSO — Somali troops stormed a Dubai-flagged ship yesterday that had been hijacked off the Horn of Africa nation, releasing its crew and arresting seven pirates, authorities said.

They pledged to do the same to rescue a Spanish ship held by pirates since the weekend.

A surge in hijackings has made the waters off Somalia some of the world’s most dangerous shipping zones.


President’s cousin ordered arrested

BOGOTA — Colombia’s chief prosecutor ordered the arrest of a second cousin of President Alvaro Uribe yesterday, bringing a scandal linking politicians and illegal paramilitary groups deeper into the president’s inner circle.

Former Sen. Mario Uribe, a close political ally of the president, was accused of criminal conspiracy for entering into “agreements to promote illegal armed groups,” according to a statement on the prosecutor’s Web site.

Mario Uribe quickly entered the Costa Rican Embassy to request political asylum, his attorney said.


Castro replaces education chief

HAVANA — Cuba has replaced its education minister in the first Cabinet change since Raul Castro assumed the presidency two months ago, the official newspaper announced yesterday.

Mr. Castro has suggested that a major Cabinet shake-up is expected later this year to streamline the government by eliminating ministries that duplicate tasks.

The new education minister is Ana Elsa Velazquez, rector of the government’s Frank Pais Garcia Institute of Advanced Teaching Studies in the eastern city of Santiago, the Communist Party newspaper Granma said. She replaces Luis Ignacio Gomez Gutierrez.


Olympic flame route scaled back

JAKARTA — Torchbearers ran laps with the Olympic flame in front of an invitation-only crowd yesterday after officials changed the relay route from Jakarta’s streets to a sports stadium amid pressure from China to keep away demonstrators.

Police arrested several protesters rallying nearby and seized Tibetan flags and banners in the latest actions against a global relay that Beijing had hoped would promote the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

Criticism of China’s human rights record has turned the relay into one of the most contentious in recent history. Anti-Chinese protests have dogged stops in Greece, Paris, London and San Francisco.


British soldier among 19 killed

KABUL — Nineteen persons, including a British soldier, have been killed in Afghanistan in a series of attacks in the past two days, officials said yesterday, in the latest violence after the traditional winter lull.

Four policemen died yesterday in a remote-controlled bomb attack in Spin Boldak, a town near the Pakistan border in southern Afghanistan. On Monday, seven Taliban insurgents were killed in an air strike by U.S.-led troops while planting roadside bombs in the province of Paktia.

The British soldier was killed Monday when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle as it guarded a supply convoy traveling to Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand province.


Nuclear talks called ‘positive’

TEHRAN — Iran gave an upbeat assessment yesterday of two days of talks with the top investigator of the U.N. atomic-energy watchdog, who was looking into Western reports that Iran secretly studied how to design nuclear bombs.

“The talks with [Olli] Heinonen were positive,” a senior Iranian nuclear official told Reuters news agency.

Iranian officials had said Mr. Heinonen’s visit was intended to advance cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body investigating Iran’s disputed nuclear ambitions.


U.N. panel reduces war-crime sentences

THE HAGUE — A U.N. appeals panel overturned the murder conviction and reduced the sentence yesterday of a Bosnian army commander in charge of Muslim fighters who murdered and tortured Bosnian Serbs and Croats in 1993.

Enver Hadzihasanovic was convicted of murder in 2006 by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for failing to prevent so-called mujahedeen volunteers from killing two prisoners and for refusing to punish them afterward.

But the U.N. court’s appeals chamber ruled the foreign volunteers, some veterans of the war in Afghanistan that ended in 1989, were beyond the control of Hadzihasanovic’s 3rd Corps of the regular Bosnian Muslim army.


Astronauts survived dangerous descent

MOSCOW — The crew of the Soyuz space capsule that landed hundreds of miles off target in Kazakhstan was in serious danger during the descent, a Russian news agency reported yesterday.

Interfax quoted an unidentified Russian space official as saying the capsule entered Earth’s atmosphere Saturday with the hatch first instead of its heat shield leading the way. As a result, the hatch sustained significant damage.

The official said a valve that equalizes pressure within the TMA-11 capsule with the outside also was damaged.

In addition, the capsule’s antenna burned up, meaning the crew couldn’t communicate properly with Russian Mission Control, the official said.

Interfax said an official at the launch site in Kazakhstan reported that the U.S. military tracked the Soyuz’s landing 260 miles from its planned touchdown and directed Russian searchers to the site.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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