- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2008

AFGHANISTAN

Officials say U.S. raid killed civilians

KABUL | A U.S. air strike killed a number of Afghan civilians, Afghan officials said Wednesday, as President Hamid Karzai called on newly elected Barack Obama to make it his priority to stop the killing of innocents.

Scores of civilians have been killed in U.S. air strikes this year leading to seething resentment against the presence of foreign troops and a rift between Mr. Karzai and his Western backers.

Mr. Karzai referred to the incident in the Shah Wali Kot district in the southern Taliban heartland of Kandahar province.

“By bombing Afghanistan, the war against terrorism cannot be won,” Mr. Karzai told a news conference. “As we speak today, we had again civilian casualties. … In Shah Wali Kot of Kandahar we had civilian casualties,” he said.

The U.S. military said it was checking reports.

IRAQ

Suicide bomber rams airport patrol

BAGHDAD | A suicide bomber rammed his car into a police patrol on the road to Baghdad’s airport Wednesday, killing six people and wounding 12 others, police said.

A security official said three policemen were among those killed in the attack, while four officers were wounded.

The heavily secured highway leading from central Baghdad to the capital’s airport was once among the most dangerous stretches in Iraq.

But security has improved markedly on the highway in the past 18 months since authorities blocked off side streets.

SPAIN

Osama’s son not welcome

MADRID | Spain’s Interior Ministry says it has rejected an asylum request from a son of Osama bin Laden.

A ministry official says the government determined that 27-year-old Omar Osama bin Laden did not “meet the conditions necessary for entering Spain.”

The official would not elaborate or discuss the younger bin Laden’s reasons for seeking asylum upon arriving Monday at Madrid’s Barajas Airport. The ministry official spoke Wednesday on the condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Omar Osama Bin Laden has 24 hours to appeal and remains in an airport transit area.

PAKISTAN

Saudis said ready for economic lifeline

ISLAMABAD | Saudi Arabia has assured Pakistan of economic help, Pakistan’s top economic official said Wednesday, but he gave no details of any specific assistance.

Pakistan is facing a balance-of-payments crisis that analysts say has left the nuclear-armed U.S. ally little option but to accept International Monetary Fund (IMF) help.

But Pakistan is hoping to avoid an IMF program, which entails painful conditions, by securing help from allies and other multilateral lenders.

President Asif Ali Zardari traveled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the hope of securing help.

RUSSIA

Gangs kill minorities on Unity Day

MOSCOW | Russian youths killed two people from Central Asia and assaulted two others, including a Turkmen diplomat, in separate attacks that came on a national holiday celebrating Russian unity, officials said Wednesday.

The 3-year-old holiday - National Unity Day - has increasingly been used by ultranationalists and fascist groups to rail against dark-skinned immigrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Gangs stabbed an Uzbek and a Turkmen to death in separate attacks, authorities said.

The Turkmen Embassy in Moscow said that one of its staffers was hospitalized after dozens of youths attacked around midday Tuesday.

BRITAIN

Army interpreter spies for Iran

LONDON | A former British army interpreter was convicted of espionage Wednesday after sending e-mails to an Iranian diplomat while serving in Afghanistan.

Iranian-born Cpl. Daniel James, whom prosecutors depicted as an eccentric character who fantasized about being a hero, was found guilty of giving information to an enemy.

The jury continued to deliberate on two other charges related to a USB memory stick that contained secret NATO documents and a count of misconduct in public office. His sentencing won’t be carried out until the verdicts on those charges are finalized.

In 2006, James was stationed in Afghanistan, where he acted as interpreter for Gen. David Richards, the then-NATO commander in the country.

SOMALIA

European aid workers among six kidnapped

MOGADISHU | Gunmen stormed an airstrip in Somalia on Wednesday, kidnapping two Kenyan pilots and four European aid workers in the latest strike against humanitarian organizations in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

The Europeans - two French, a Bulgarian and a Belgian - were among a group on a runway near the central Somali town of Dusamareb when the gang struck, local residents said.

The four aid workers were with French-based Action Against Hunger.

Aid workers have been increasingly targeted this year for assassination and kidnap in Somalia, where Islamist insurgents are fighting the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

Suspicion generally falls on clan militia and the insurgents. But the Islamists accuse President Abdullahi Yusuf’s government of staging such attacks to blacken their name.

CAMEROON

Hostage killed in rescue bid

YAOUNDE | One of the 10 hostages seized by a local militia off Cameroon’s coast last week was killed in a failed rescue attempt by Nigerian marines, a leader of the militia said Wednesday.

The unidentified hostage was killed when the marines attacked the militia in Cameroon’s Bakassi Peninsula, militia commander Ebi Dari said.

Bakassi is part of Cameroon, and it was not clear why security forces from neighboring Nigeria would be involved. Nigerian and Cameroonian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gunmen in speedboats seized six French workers, two Cameroonians, one Senegalese and one Tunisian from an oil-industry tugboat off Cameroon’s coast Friday. France later said a seventh hostage also had French nationality, but it was not known which one.

Mr. Dari is the leader of the Cameroon-based Niger Delta Defense and Security Council, an umbrella group for several militias that have operated in Bakassi for years. The militias want autonomy for Bakassi and say it desperately needs more development.

CONGO

Fighting forces thousands to flee

KIWANJA | Sporadic gunfire and explosions echoed Wednesday around this town in eastern Congo, as rebels fought pro-government militiamen for a second day, forcing thousands to flee.

A wider cease-fire between the rebels and the government was holding, however, and diplomats scrambled to assemble a regional peace summit Friday in Kenya.

Associated Press journalists who visited Kiwanja before being turned back by rebels saw several thousand people on the roads, including mothers with babies on their backs, as insurgents loyal to warlord Laurent Nkunda searched houses.

Kiwanja is about 45 miles north of the provincial capital Goma and the clashes between rebels and a militia known as the Mai Mai appear to be taking place on the town’s far outskirts or in the hills and fields of coffee and corn beyond.

Fighting in Congo intensified in August and has since displaced around 250,000 million people, forcing exhausted refugees to struggle through the countryside, lugging belongings, children, even goats. Tropical rainstorms, which drench eastern Congo every day, have added to their misery.

After forcing the army into a humiliating retreat and reaching the outskirts of Goma, Mr. Nkunda called a cease-fire Oct. 29.

A regional summit is expected Friday in Nairobi, Kenya, attended by Congolese President Joseph Kabila, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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