- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FINLAND

Gunman kills 10 at school, then self

KAUHAJOKI | A masked gunman whose violent YouTube postings prompted police to question him just a day earlier opened fire Tuesday at his trade school in Finland, killing 10 people and burning some of their bodies before fatally shooting himself in the head.

Witnesses said panic broke out as the gunman, dressed in black and carrying a large bag, started firing in a classroom during an exam. The shootings began just before 11 a.m. as about 150 students were at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality, 180 miles northwest of Helsinki.

Police had questioned the gunman Monday about YouTube postings in which he is seen firing a handgun, but he was released because there was no legal reason to hold him, Interior Minister Anne Holmlund said.

Police said the attacker was armed with a .22-caliber pistol and carrying explosives. He left two handwritten messages at the dormitory saying that he had planned the attack since 2002 and that he hated the human race.

It was Finland’s second school massacre in less than a year and the two attacks had eerie similarities. Both gunmen posted violent clips on YouTube before the massacres, both were fascinated by the 1999 Columbine school shootings in Colorado, both attacked their own schools and both died after shooting themselves in the head.

PAKISTAN

Drone shot down, officials say

ISLAMABAD | Pakistani soldiers and tribesman shot down a suspected U.S. military drone close to the Afghan border Tuesday night, three intelligence officials said.

If verified, it apparently would be the first time a pilotless aircraft was brought down over Pakistan and likely would add to tensions between Washington and Islamabad over recent American cross-border incursions into the country’s lawless tribal regions.

The three officials said the aircraft was hit at the village of Jalal Khel in South Waziristan after circling the area for several hours. Wreckage was strewn on the ground, they said. A U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan said officials were looking into the claim.

SOUTH AFRICA

Cabinet resignations frighten markets

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s stocks and currency reeled Tuesday on the news that the architect of the country’s economic success was resigning but recovered somewhat after Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said he would serve in a new government.

A brief statement from the office of President Thabo Mbeki - who was forced to resign over the weekend amid an internal African National Congress power struggle - listed 13 ministers and three deputies who had tendered their resignations from the 28-member Cabinet, among them Mr. Manuel.

Mr. Manuel’s spokeswoman Thoraya Pandy said Mr. Manuel and his deputy, Jabulani Moleketi, “are ready to serve the new administration in any capacity that the incoming president deems fit.”

Mr. Mbeki’s resignation becomes effective Thursday.

VENEZUELA

Chavez in China, skips U.N. session

BEIJING | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his country is no longer the back yard of the U.S. and that he finds it more important to visit Beijing than the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, as he arrived Tuesday in China’s capital on the first leg of an international tour.

“China is showing the world and has shown the world that it isn’t necessary to harm anyone to be a great power,” Mr. Chavez told reporters upon his arrival in Beijing. “They’re soldiers of peace.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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