- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. concedes civilian casualties

KHOST, Afghanistan | The U.S. military has conceded that a raid this week by troops under its command in Afghanistan killed a group of civilians who were defending their home, not militants as it had earlier reported.

The killing of civilians by foreign forces is the biggest source of tension between the Afghan government and its Western backers.

Investigations showed that during an operation by U.S. and Afghan forces in the southeastern province of Khost late Wednesday, a local family near the target location had opened fire on the troops, the military said late Thursday. The military returned fire.

A Reuters witness at the village after the raid saw the body of a 7-day-old boy who died during the raid. The international aid group Care said one of the victims was a female teacher working in a school it supports. It said the four others killed were members of her family, including two children. One was a student in her class.

GREECE

Gunman wounds 3 in college, kills self

ATHENS | A gunman who wounded three people at a college in Athens and killed himself had warned of the attack hours earlier on an Internet posting that included photographs of him posing with weapons, police said.

The 19-year-old man, armed with two handguns and a knife, opened fire at the vocational training college in western Athens and then shot himself in the head, authorities said.

The gunman left a note accusing his fellow students of picking on him, and posted the message on a social networking site. Police identified him as Dimitris Patmanidis, an immigrant from the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.

PAKISTAN

Slain politician helped free American

ISLAMABAD | A separatist politician whose mutilated body was found in Pakistan’s restive southwest had helped secure the release of a kidnapped American U.N. worker, the U.S. Embassy said.

The remains of Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and two others were discovered in Baluchistan province on Thursday, six days after they were reportedly abducted by armed men.

Their deaths sparked rioting across the region, where ethnic Baluch groups have waged a long and often violent struggle for greater autonomy. Mr. Baloch played “an active role” in seeking the release of John Solecki, the U.N. refugee agency staffer freed unharmed last weekend, the U.S. Embassy said.

MOLDOVA

President calls for vote recount

CHISINAU | Moldova’s president called Friday for a recount of ballots in last weekend’s parliamentary elections in an effort to restore stability in a country rocked by riots and claims of vote fraud.

President Vladimir Voronin, who has recently maintained closer ties with Russia than the European Union, said the recount would prove to skeptics that his governing Communist Party fairly won Sunday’s election in the former Soviet republic.

Later, the president met with the U.S. Ambassador Asif J. Chaudhry and promised to have a “constructive dialogue” with opposition parties, Mr. Voronin’s press office said.

Anti-communist protesters who claimed the election was rigged stormed parliament and the president’s office in Chisinau on Tuesday in riots that left more than 90 injured and led to 200 arrests.

RUSSIA

Deal signed to buy drones from Israel

MOSCOW | Russia said Friday it had signed a contract to buy drones from Israel, in the first such deal analysts said was aimed at strengthening the armed forces after last year’s brief war with Georgia.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin announced the deal, worth about $50 million, to buy three different types of drones from Israel’s largest defense firm, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

IRAN

Three men hanged for mosque attack

TEHRAN | Iran hanged three men Friday for their involvement in a bombing inside a packed mosque that killed 14 people nearly a year ago, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The three, who were not identified, were hanged in Abdel Abad prison in the southern city of Shiraz near where the attack occurred, the agency said. The sentencing was carried out after Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdicts. Iran’s Revolutionary Court found the three men guilty in November for their involvement in the April 12 bombing that also wounded more than 200 people.

ALBANIA

Bullet in head for 12 years

TIRANA | A woman went around for 12 years with a bullet lodged below her cheekbone without her noticing it, the woman said Friday.

Mrike Rrucaj told Reuters news agency she was shot in her sleep in 1997 at a time when the Balkan country was plagued by anarchy and chaos amid protests against fraudulent pyramid schemes, but a doctor said the bullet had passed through her. At the time many Albanians fired bullets into the air in frustration.

But one week ago she collapsed from pain when she bent her neck and an X-ray revealed the bullet, which was 1.1 inches long.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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