- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008


U.N. extends NATO force

UNITED NATIONS | The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Monday to extend the NATO-led force in Afghanistan but was critical of the growing number of civilian casualties, and urged its troops and U.S.-led forces to make major efforts to minimize civilian deaths.

The resolution extended the mandate of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force until Oct. 13, 2009.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long complained that civilian deaths caused by U.S. or NATO military action undermine his government and the international mission.

The issue was propelled to the forefront of U.S.-Afghanistan relations when an Afghan commission found that an Aug. 22 U.S.-led operation in the western village of Azizabad killed 90 civilians, including 60 children. That finding was backed by a preliminary U.N. report, though the U.S. is still investigating the incident.


Food safety chief forced to quit

BEIJING | The head of the Chinese agency that monitors food and product safety has resigned, state media announced Monday, pushed out by a scandal over tainted infant formula that killed four babies and sickened nearly 53,000.

The resignation of Li Changjiang, who headed the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine since 2001, comes a year after he and the government promised to overhaul the system.

Baby formula and other milk products have been pulled from stores throughout the country and Chinese goods including liquid milk, instant coffee mix and milk-based candy have been banned across Asia.


Car bomb kills army officer

MADRID | A powerful car bomb exploded Monday in northern Spain, killing an army officer and wounding six other people in the third attack in 24 hours by suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA.

And in France, police detained six suspected Basque militants in a probe into the financing of terrorist attacks in France and Spain.

The attack Monday in the northern town of Santona signaled a new ETA offensive just days after the Spanish Supreme Court outlawed two Basque pro-independence parties on grounds they are linked to ETA. The blast, outside an army academy, blew a huge hole in the ground and caused major damage to buildings and cars in the area.


Fighting in capital kills 30

MOGADISHU | Somalia’s warring sides pounded the capital with mortar rounds and gunfire Monday, killing 30 people - including a family of seven - as Islamic insurgents who want to topple the government gain significant power.

Monday’s fighting pitted insurgents against government forces and their Ethiopian allies, who come under regular attack in Mogadishu, one of the most violent cities in the world. The violence left bodies in city streets. When the blasts calmed, young men ventured out to take the gravely wounded to hospitals in rickety wheelbarrows.


Polar bear Knut’s keeper found dead

BERLIN | The zookeeper who gained fame for hand-rearing the beloved polar bear Knut was found dead in his Berlin apartment Monday.

A spokeswoman for Berlin police said Thomas Doerflein, 44, was dead when authorities arrived at the apartment, but they had no information on the cause of death.

Mr. Doerflein gained fame in Germany and beyond as the ever-present caretaker for Knut, a polar bear cub abandoned by his mother in late 2006. Knut became a worldwide sensation when the Berlin Zoo decided to raise him by hand, and Mr. Doerflein was there for every stage of the bear’s progress.

When Knut made his public debut in March 2007, Mr. Doerflein was at his side. They started a daily performance for the thousands of visitors who flocked to see the bear at his outdoor enclosure. But the Knut show ended in July 2007 when the zoo’s director ruled that the bear had grown too large for Doerflein to frolic with him in safety.

In November, Mr. Doerflein was awarded Berlin’s medal of merit for his service to the city - and to Knut.


U.S. military frees journalist

KABUL | The U.S. military said Monday that it has freed an Afghan journalist detained for 11 months at the U.S. military base at Bagram as an “enemy combatant,” and the man claimed his captors kicked him, forced him to stand barefoot in the snow and didn’t allow him to sleep for days.

Jawed Ahmad, 21, who worked primarily for CTV, a Canadian television network, was handed over to Afghan authorities Sunday, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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