- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2008


Forces capture ‘key’ insurgent leader

KABUL | Afghan and coalition forces captured an insurgent leader in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S. forces said they grabbed a “key insurgent leader” in a joint raid with Afghan police Friday in a village in eastern Ghazni province. No shots were fired in the raid, the statement said.

The captured man is responsible for the deaths of Afghan troops, bomb attacks on coalition forces and the kidnapping of aid workers, U.S. military officials said. A spokesman declined to give further information on the leader’s identity while they search for his confederates.

Coalition forces also killed 10 militants in a strike against a bomb-making cell in the eastern Paktia province Friday, the U.S. military said. The troops were targeting several key figures in a network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader thought to operate out of Pakistan.


Darfur rebels accuse Sudan of bombing

KHARTOUM | Darfur rebels accused Sudanese government forces on Saturday of bombing their territory, just days after the president announced a cease-fire in the region.

Sudan’s armed forces denied the reports, saying they were sticking to the cease-fire. They said they had made no maneuvers in the area.

The accusations, if confirmed, will dismay many governments and international bodies who praised Sudanese President Omar Bashir on Wednesday for announcing an “immediate and unconditional” end to hostilities as part of a new peace push in the western region.

The U.N.-led peacekeeping mission in Darfur said it was investigating the accusations.


Two soldiers killed in helicopter crash

BAGHDAD | Two American soldiers were killed in a helicopter accident in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday, a military spokeswoman said.

The helicopter was an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, a small scout helicopter fitted with weapons. It hit overhead cables as it was attempting to land.

Mosul has been the scene of some of the heaviest violence in Iraq in recent months. U.S. forces say al Qaeda and like-minded Sunni Muslim militant groups are making a stand in the northern city after being driven from other parts of Iraq.


Radical Islamists capture port town

MOGADISHU | A radical Islamic group seized another Somali port town Saturday, consolidating its control over a southwestern region that borders the Somali capital.

Amin Adan, a resident of the port town of Barawe, said that fighters of al-Shabab took control without a fight because the government’s allies left as soon as they heard the fighters were on their way.

Barawe, 110 miles southwest of Mogadishu, is near Merka, a key port town with an airstrip that al-Shabab seized last week. Both are in the region of Lower Shabelle, which surrounds Mogadishu.

The steady and seemingly uncontested rise in recent months of al-Shabab - meaning “the Youth” - which the United States considers a terrorist organization, is a far cry from the situation in late 2006, when Somalia’s U.N.-backed government rolled into Mogadishu supported by Ethiopian troops and drove out radical Islamists intent on ruling by strict Shariah law.


Earthquake hits Sichuan province

BEIJING | An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale struck China’s southwest Sichuan province at 6:59 a.m. local time Sunday, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the national earthquake administration.

The epicenter of the temblor, Pingwu County, was about 105 miles north of the provincial capital Chengdu and about 50 miles north of Mianyang city, Xinhua said. There are no reports of injuries so far, the report said.

Mianyang was the epicenter of a 7.9-magnitude earthquake, China’s most powerful in more than half a century, which killed at least 87,000 people after it struck the region on May 12.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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