Thursday, July 3, 2008

BRITAIN

Hezbollah faces sanctions

LONDON | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown took harsh action Wednesday against the Lebanese-based group Hezbollah, punishing it for supporting terrorist activities in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

The action against Hezbollah’s military wing will, if approved by Parliament, make it a crime to join or support the military wing of the radical group, which fought a bloody conflict with Israel two years ago.

Hezbollah trainers are offering Shi’ite militia in Iraq specialist help in using roadside bombs, said Tony McNulty, Britain‘s minister in charge of fighting terrorism.



Britain lists 59 groups as banned terrorist organizations. Hezbollah’s external security organization has been listed since 2001. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, speaking by video link to reporters in Beirut, said the decision came as no surprise.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. helicopter shot down

KABUL | A helicopter belonging to U.S.-led coalition troops was shot down by small-arms fire south of the Afghan capital on Wednesday, but there were no serious injuries to those on board, the U.S. military said.

The pilots landed the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter safely and evacuated all personnel before it caught fire in the Kharwar district of Logar province, where Taliban militants are known to be active.

It was the second coalition helicopter to crash in a week. The other incident, in Kunar province in the northeast, is under investigation but indications are that the helicopter crashed due to mechanical failure.

CHINA

Party boss attacks Dalai Lama

BEIJING | China’s Communist Party boss in Tibet delivered a fresh attack on the Dalai Lama on Wednesday, even as envoys of the region’s exiled leader met with Chinese officials for more talks toward easing tensions following anti-government riots.

The official Tibet Daily quoted hard-liner Zhang Qingli as saying that supporters of the Dalai Lama were behind the violence that began with deadly rioting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on March 14 and quickly spread to sections of Tibet in western China.

The remarks, which echo earlier Chinese accusations about the riots, indicate no letup in Beijing’s relentless campaign to vilify the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, despite talks this week that followed widespread calls for dialogue from overseas.

CONGO

Court orders warlord freed

THE HAGUE | Judges at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday ordered the release of the first suspect the tribunal took into custody, saying he cannot get a fair trial because prosecutors are withholding evidence in his case.

Prosecutors immediately launched an appeal and urged the court not to free former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga. He will remain in custody for at least five days while the court decides what to do next.

His landmark trial was to have been the first at the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, but it was suspended before it began last month after the prosecution refused to release documents it received from the United Nations that could help clear Mr. Lubanga.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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