- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

IRAQ

Shoe thrower's sentence reduced

BAGHDAD | A court has reduced the prison sentence for an Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush from three years to one.

Court spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said Tuesday's decision was made because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi was sentenced to three years in March after a quick trial. He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of assaulting a foreign leader and said his action was a “natural response to the occupation.”

The act during Mr. Bush's last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world, where the former U.S. president is reviled for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

SAUDI ARABIA

Three Pakistanis beheaded for crime

RIYADH | Saudi authorities have beheaded three Pakistanis convicted of killing a fellow Pakistani man during a jewelry heist.

An Interior Ministry statement said the three men stabbed a Pakistani jewelry salesman to death during the robbery.

The beheadings were carried out Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed - usually with a sword.

YEMEN

Somali refugees drown coming ashore

GENEVA - Dozens of Somali migrants sailing across the Gulf of Aden are missing and presumed dead after one boat capsized and another ran into trouble in rough seas, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

A smuggling boat carrying 40 Somalis capsized late Saturday as passengers were disembarking off the coast of Yemen, about 50 miles from the site of a reception center operated by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Twenty people made it to shore; the rest are missing, U.N. spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva. More than 17,000 people from the Horn of Africa have arrived in Yemen since the start of the year, he said.

ISRAEL

Anti-missile test called a success

JERUSALEM | Israel successfully tested an anti-missile system designed to protect the country from attack by Iran, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The intercept of a dummy missile was the latest test of the Arrow system, a U.S.-Israeli joint venture. Israeli defense officials said the interceptor was an upgraded Arrow II, designed to counter Iran's Shahab ballistic missile.

The Defense Ministry said the interceptor shot down “a missile simulating a ballistic threat in especially challenging conditions.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak watched Tuesday's intercept from a military helicopter, the ministry said.

IRAQ

Miracle baby survives bombing

BAGHDAD | A baby miraculously survived a Baghdad car bombing cradled in his mother's lap as she was burned to death in a blast that claimed the lives of eight people on Tuesday, witnesses said.

The baby boy's father was seriously wounded in the attack not far from a holy Shi'ite shrine in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood of northern Baghdad, police and witnesses said.

Tuesday's attack came shortly before President Obama arrived in the Iraqi capital on a surprise visit.

It also came hard on the heels of six car bomb blasts that killed 34 people in mainly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad on Monday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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