Thursday, August 21, 2008

ALGERIA

2 bombs kill 12 as violence grows

BOUIRA | Two car bombs killed 12 people and wounded 42 on Wednesday, the latest attacks in the bloodiest week of unrest in years.

The bombings at Bouira, 56 miles southeast of Algiers, follow a spate of attacks by al Qaeda’s north African wing including a bombing Tuesday that killed 48 people and ambushes Sunday that killed 11.

Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. said 12 of its Algerian employees were killed when a bus carrying them to work on a water project was hit by an explosion.



The Interior Ministry said that explosion happened 15 minutes after a first bomb hit an army barracks at 6 a.m. The ministry said 42 people, including seven military personnel and a policeman, were wounded. The ministry also reported that the death toll from Tuesday’s bombing had risen to 48 from 43.

CHINA

Mao successor Hua Guofeng dead

BEIJING | Hua Guofeng, who briefly ruled China as communist founder Mao Zedong’s successor but was pushed aside as a prelude to reforms that launched an economic boom, died Wednesday at age 87, state-run media reported.

State broadcaster CCTV said Mr. Hua died of an unspecified illness.

He took power after Mao’s death in September 1976, but saw his powers erode until Deng Xiaoping took control two years later. Mr. Hua was forced out as Communist Party chairman in 1981 and slipped into obscurity.

FRANCE

Deaths fuel call for Afghan review

PARIS | France reacted in shock Wednesday to the death of 10 of its soldiers in an ambush in Afghanistan and questions began to be asked about the country’s worst military loss in 25 years.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who flew to Kabul on Tuesday, said France was committed to its engagement in Afghanistan, where it took part in the 2001 invasion to topple the Taliban.

But the opposition Socialists called for a parliamentary committee to meet, and doubts were expressed about the official account of the incident in which the 10 soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in a fierce mountain battle.

The daily Le Monde quoted an unidentified French soldier wounded in the ambush who said there had been communications breakdowns and long delays in relieving the outnumbered patrol.

It also said some soldiers had been hit by the allied air strikes called in to help them. The Pentagon said there had been no reports of soldiers killed by close air support and the head of the French general staff denied on Tuesday there had been any major tactical errors made by the patrol.

IRAN

Man hanged for juvenile murder

TEHRAN | Iran has hanged five people, including a man convicted of a murder he committed when he was 15, a newspaper reported Wednesday, the latest in a series of executions that have drawn international criticism.

The Etemad daily said Reza Hejazi, 20, was hanged on Tuesday in a prison in the central city of Isfahan for stabbing his friend to death when he was 15.

Major human rights groups appealed to Iran in July to stop imposing the death penalty for crimes by juveniles and to commute sentences against nearly 140 youths known to be on death row.

Iran has executed at least 30 juvenile criminals since 1990, including seven in 2007, according to the groups.

The state-run Iran newspaper also reported the hanging of two convicted drug smugglers inside Tehran’s Ghezel Hesar prison on Tuesday. Two convicted rapists were also hanged on Tuesday in the city of Isfahan, the Etemad newspaper reported.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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