- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Militants capture 25 security forces

ISLAMABAD | Islamic militants seized a security post in Pakistan’s troubled northwest Tuesday, capturing at least 25 police and troops in a raid that underscored the government’s weak grip on territory near the Afghan border.

Extremists also killed two security officers elsewhere in the Swat Valley, a day after three intelligence agents died in an ambush in the same area.

Pakistani officials said the abducted security force was manning a post near Deolai village in Swat when it was surrounded by an unknown number of militants Tuesday morning. Police said about 30 officers and paramilitary troops were taken away, while an army statement put the number at “as many as 25.”


7 Bosnian Serbs guilty of genocide

SARAJEVO | The Bosnian war-crimes court convicted seven Bosnian Serbs of genocide Tuesday in the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica and handed down prison sentences ranging from 38 to 42 years. Four others were acquitted.

Issuing their first sentence related to Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, judges at the war-crimes court sent three of the former policemen to prison for 42 years, three others away for 40 years, and one for 38 years.

The seven men were found guilty of killing more than 1,000 captured Bosnian Muslim men and boys after Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern town of Srebrenica - a U.N.-protected enclave for civilians during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.


18 bombs defused near market

AHMEDABAD | Police defused 18 bombs found Tuesday near the main diamond markets in the city of Surat and issued a sketch of a young man thought to be linked to one of two explosives-filled cars discovered there.

The announcement came as authorities in a Bombay suburb probed ties to a series of blasts over the weekend that killed 42 people and wounded 183 in Ahmedabad, about 175 miles north of Surat. An obscure Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the Ahmedabad attack.

Authorities said that four cars - two used in Saturday’s Ahmedabad attack and the two found in Surat on Tuesday - were stolen in July from the Bombay suburb of New Bombay.


Thousands of blank passports stolen

LONDON | Britain’s Foreign Office says thousands of blank British passports have been stolen in a raid on a delivery van.

The documents were snatched as they were being delivered from northern England to a Royal Air Force base near London. Around 3,000 passports and blank visa stickers were in the consignment. They were due to be flown out of Britain and distributed to British embassies overseas.

Britain’s Identity and Passport Service says that computer chips embedded in the passports to store personal and biometric data have not been activated. The Foreign Office said Tuesday that means the documents can’t be used as passports.


Court OKs U.S. base expansion

ROME | A top Italian administrative court on Tuesday approved the expansion of a U.S. military base in northeast Italy, local media reported. The expansion has caused angry protests by residents and leftist politicians.

The State Council overturned a June ruling by a lower court, saying it had no jurisdiction to suspend the expansion in Vicenza because the move was a political decision made by then-Prime Minister Romano Prodi, the ANSA news agency said.

The expansion at Dal Molin airport is part of the U.S. Army’s plans to transform itself into a lighter, more mobile force. The move allows four battalions to transfer from Germany, uniting the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, a rapid-reaction unit now spread between Italy and Germany.

It will raise the number of active-duty personnel in Vicenza to 5,000 from about 2,900.


Woman gives birth to 18th child

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia | A Romanian immigrant has given birth to her 18th child in British Columbia, making her the province’s most prolific mother in 20 years.

Proud dad Alexandru Ionce said Saturday that his 44-year-old wife, Livia, gave birth to daughter Abigail on July 22. The couple’s 17 other children range in age from 20 months to 23 years.

Mr. Ionce said he did not know if the couple would have more children. The family now has 10 girls and eight boys. “We would have liked a boy to be even,” he said.


School matron pleads not guilty

SEBOKENG | A former dormitory matron at Oprah Winfrey’s school for poor South African girls pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that she indecently assaulted and otherwise abused six teenagers and a fellow matron at the academy.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 28, looked nervous and sullen at the start of her trial. Judge Thelma Simpson granted a prosecution request for the rest of the proceedings to be closed to the public. She also is allowing the teenagers to testify through closed-circuit TV to save them the trauma of confronting their purported attacker in court.

Miss Winfrey has been deeply embarrassed by the scandal. Police said the purported abuse took place over four months at her Leadership Academy for Girls and victimized six students ages 13 to 15 and a 23-year-old dormitory matron.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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