- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Photo used as proof of al Qaeda arrest

BAGHDAD | The Iraqi government presented the first image of the man accused of leading an al Qaeda front group Tuesday in a bid to prove that the right suspect was in custody despite skepticism that he even exists.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called Abu Omar al-Baghdadi “the head of evil” and accused him of trying to incite a sectarian civil war and working with other insurgents who remained loyal to late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Authorities described al-Baghdadi’s capture, which was announced last week, as a major setback for Sunni insurgents trying to intensify attacks after a relative lull.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he could not confirm al-Baghdadi’s capture and described as “fairly accurate” a statement that every day that goes by without a confirmation increases the suspicion that it’s not him.


Peru envoy recalled over asylum

CARACAS | Venezuela recalled its ambassador in Lima to protest Peru’s decision to grant political asylum to a prominent opponent of President Hugo Chavez, calling it a mockery of international law and escalating a diplomatic dispute.

Peru announced early Monday that it was giving Manuel Rosales, a former presidential candidate who ran against Mr. Chavez in 2006 and now says he is being persecuted by Venezuela’s socialist president, political asylum for humanitarian reasons.

Peru has granted asylum to two other Chavez opponents: former Yaracuy state Gov. Eduardo Lapi and prominent labor union leader Carlos Ortega. Both men escaped from prison and fled the country.


Gunmen release 2 aid workers

MOGADISHU | Gunmen released two European aid workers Tuesday after holding them for nearly 10 days in southwestern Somalia.

Rab Dhure District Commissioner Sheik Mohamed Kheyr said elders and an extremist Islamic group helped secure the release of Dutch national Kees Keus, 49, and Belgian Jorgen Stassijns, 40, of Doctors Without Borders. He said no ransom was paid. The two had been kidnapped by masked gunmen on April 19 as they traveled through the Somalian town of Rab Dhure.


Parade canceled over security fears

KABUL | Thousands of police patrolled Afghanistan’s capital Tuesday, a national holiday meant to celebrate the victory of guerrilla fighters over the Soviet-backed communist regime that controlled the country until 1992.

Afghan officials canceled all public events this year, after a high-profile Taliban attack on last year’s parade, which was attended by President Hamid Karzai. That attack killed three people, including a lawmaker only 30 yards from Mr. Karzai.

Officials flirted with the idea of holding a public celebration this year, but ultimately canceled any public observance, while Mr. Karzai said parade funds would be given to victims of a recent earthquake and flood.


Swedish official denied entry

STOCKHOLM | Sweden recalled its top diplomat in Sri Lanka on Tuesday after Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was blocked from joining a European delegation pressing for a cease-fire between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Mr. Bildt had planned to visit Sri Lanka this week with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French counterpart Bernard Kouchner to appeal for an immediate cease-fire and to call for peace talks to end the quarter-century civil war. Mr. Miliband and Mr. Kouchner got permission to enter, but Mr. Bildt was told that he was welcome to visit in May instead.

Mr. Bildt said he was not planning to accept the invitation to visit Sri Lanka in May and promptly recalled the Scandinavian country’s charge d’affaires in Colombo for consultations. The European Union also condemned Sri Lanka’s move.


Scientists say cloned dogs glow

SEOUL | South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases.

The four dogs, all named “Ruppy” - a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” - look like typical beagles by daylight. But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs’ nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.

Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world’s first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes. Scientists in the U.S., Japan and Europe have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but this would be the first time that dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Mr. Lee said.


Court sentences ex-peacekeepers

ABUJA | A Nigerian court-martial has sentenced 27 former United Nations peacekeepers to life in prison after they were convicted of mutiny after protests over the nonpayment of their allowances, their attorney said Tuesday.

The soldiers, who had protested by blocking the highway with bonfires and chanting war songs condemning their superiors, were convicted Monday. They were among more than 800 rank and file who protested last year after they did not receive their allowances during their participation in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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