NATO bomb kills 2 civilians
KABUL | A NATO bomb missed its target by more than 1 1/2 miles and hit a house Tuesday, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding 10 at a time of rising tension between the Afghan government and international troops over the use of air strikes.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb killed three U.S. coalition soldiers and an Afghan contractor, the coalition said.
NATO said its weapon malfunctioned Tuesday in the eastern Khost province. The bomb’s target was a spot used by insurgents to fire rockets.
Afghan and U.N. officials say some 90 civilians were killed in a U.S. Special Forces operation in the village of Azizabad on Aug. 22. The U.S. has said up to seven civilians were killed but is reinvestigating the incident after video images of victims came to light.
Ex-prime minister granted bail
DHAKA | The Bangladesh High Court granted bail Tuesday to detained former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, clearing the way for her release after 12 months behind bars on corruption charges.
The court bailed her on the remaining two of four charges brought after her arrest in September 2007 by the army-backed interim government.
Political leaders and analysts said Mrs. Zia’s bail was an important step toward holding a credible parliamentary election by year-end, paving the way for a peaceful transition to democracy.
Last week the High Court bailed Tareque Rahman, Mrs. Zia’s son and political heir apparent, on six corruption charges. That cleared the way for Mr. Rahman to seek treatment abroad for what his doctors say is a broken backbone.
Government claims rebel plane downed
COLOMBO | The Sri Lankan military said it had shot down a Tamil Tiger plane for the first time Tuesday after the rebels launched a pre-dawn air raid and ground assault on a military base, killing at least 25 people.
But the rebels denied their plane had been shot down, and said its raid had succeeded in destroying an air force radar station in an assault that killed 20 soldiers.
The raid was one of the most audacious counterattacks by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since the army stepped up its advance over the past three weeks, seizing rebel strongholds in what has been the bloodiest fighting since 1999.
If confirmed, the downing of the rebel aircraft would provide a boost to the military, frustrated and embarrassed by its inability to impose its air superiority and stop six earlier attacks by the Tigers’ ramshackle air force since March 2007.
EU offers deeper ties, no entry pledge
PARIS | European Union leaders met Ukraine‘s President Viktor Yushchenko for talks in Paris on Tuesday, where the bloc was set to offer Kiev closer ties but stop short of a firm membership pledge.
Despite concern about Russian moves to roll back Western influence after intervening in Georgia, many EU states are unwilling to offer such a pledge, given waning public support for EU expansion, Ukraine’s poor record on reform and a desire to avoid further straining ties with Moscow.
A political crisis in Ukraine that saw the collapse last week of a shaky coalition between Mr. Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reinforced the EU’s caution.
Relaxed reporting rules to expire
BEIJING | China’s relaxed rules for foreign journalists that were enacted before the Beijing Olympics will expire next month, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
China loosened its decades-old controls on foreign journalists — including requiring government permission for all interviews and travel — at the beginning of 2007. It was not known what kinds of regulations would replace the rules that expire Oct. 17.
The changes, which allowed reporters to interview Chinese citizens without government approval, were part of the country’s pledge to increase media freedom, which helped Beijing be picked as host of the 2008 Olympics.
Lawmakers ratify ‘historic’ EU deal
BELGRADE | In what a senior official described as a “historic moment,” Serbian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a pre-membership accord with the European Union and a key oil and gas agreement with Russia.
Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic told the Associated Press that lawmakers’ ratification of the EU’s Stabilization and Association agreement “definitely shows that Serbia wants to be part of Europe.”
The vote in the parliament came after years of stalled negotiations with the EU over Serbia’s failure to arrest key war crimes suspects, but also because of anger here over many EU nations’ support for Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.
Official to be punished for racist remarks
KUALA LUMPUR | A senior official will be punished for his racist outburst warning Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese minority not to become greedy for political and economic power, the prime minister said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the leaders of Malaysia’s 14-party ruling coalition unanimously rejected Ahmad Ismail’s remarks and that they “want swift and firm action to be taken” against him.
Mr. Ismail, a district chief in the United Malays National Organization ruling party, claimed that the Malay majority was losing patience with minorities, particularly ethnic Chinese politicians.
Deal aims to end violence in north
BEIRUT | Rival groups signed an agreement Monday to end sectarian violence that has killed and wounded scores in the past three months in the northern city of Tripoli.
Tripoli, about 50 miles north of Beirut, has been the scene of clashes between Sunnis and Alawites — a Shi´ite sect.
“Tripoli should be a city without weapons because weapons in the hands of individuals do not protect anyone,” said Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who went to Tripoli to witness the signing ceremony Monday night. “He who will undermine the city´s security is an enemy to the city no matter to what group he belongs. No one will protect him.”
The reconciliation comes after Arab officials warned that the situation in Tripoli could spin out of control in Lebanon. Last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Lebanon is still “fragile” as long as extremist groups remain active in northern Lebanon. He was referring to the conservative Salafi branch of Islam, which has a presence in northern Lebanon.
The six-point agreement for Tripoli calls for abstaining from force, the deployment of the army to tense areas and a timetable for the return of displaced people.
Rockslide toll tops 50 deaths
CAIRO | More than 50 people were killed in a massive rockslide that flattened homes in a Cairo shantytown, a security official said Monday, with yet more bodies pulled from the rubble two days after the disaster.
Many other bodies are feared entombed in the debris after giant boulders crushed dozens of homes in the shantytown of Manshiyet Nasser on Saturday, burying whole families.
As four more corpses were pulled out of the rubble, rising as high as 15 yards, a security official said the casualty toll stood at 51 dead and 57 injured.
Sheik Ali Gomaa, the leader of the nation´s Sunni Muslim faithful, said all those who died in the Ramadan disaster were “martyrs,” Al-Masri Al-Youm newspaper reported.
Television reports suggested as many as 500 people could be missing as rescuers continued in a desperate race to find survivors of the rockslide, which struck as most people were sleeping. It was the first week of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.z
From wire dispatches and staff reports