- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IRAQ

Gunmen kill 5 Sunni guards

BAGHDAD | Gunmen killed five Sunni security guards — including one by beheading — in a gruesome pre-dawn slaying Tuesday at a village checkpoint in central Iraq, officials said.

The five victims were members of the Sons of Iraq, or Awakening Councils - a Sunni-dominated security force now on the government payroll that has been targeted in revenge attacks after helping turn the tide against al Qaeda.

Authorities were alerted to the checkpoint in the village of Tal Massoud, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, shortly after the 2 a.m. shooting. A police official described a scene of bullet-riddled bodies littered across the checkpoint. One of the bodies, he said, had been beheaded. The victims were part of the Sunni tribe of Khazraj.

ISRAEL

Nuke whistleblower Vanunu arrested

JERUSALEM | Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was ordered to be put under house arrest Tuesday after being charged with violating a condition of his 2004 release from an Israeli prison.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Mr. Vanunu met with “a number of foreigners,” something he was ordered not to do for fear he might divulge classified information.

Mr. Vanunu, who has been charged with violating this order before, flashed a “V” sign and unleashed a rambling tirade against the “impotent” Jewish state as he entered a Jerusalem court.

His attorney, Avigdor Feldman, said Mr. Vanunu was arrested because he has a Norwegian girlfriend whom police have already interrogated. A court spokesman said Mr. Vanunu would be released from jail Tuesday evening and was ordered to stay under house arrest through Thursday.

Mr. Vanunu was a former low-level technician at an Israeli nuclear plant who leaked details and pictures of the operation to the Sunday Times of London in 1986.

LEBANON

Israeli warplanes draw army fire

BEIRUT | Lebanon’s army said Tuesday it fired anti-aircraft rounds at four Israeli warplanes that flew at low altitude over south Lebanon.

U.N. peacekeepers and Lebanon say Israeli flights over the country violate Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in 2006.

Israeli warplanes fly over Lebanon frequently but are not frequently fired on.

A spokesman for the Israeli army said it was checking the report of the incident.

Israel relies heavily on air supremacy and its air raids destroyed large districts of the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut and several towns and villages in south Lebanon during the 2006 war.

KUWAIT

Ruler warns against chaos, social rift

KUWAIT CITY | The ruler of Kuwait on Tuesday warned against chaos and social divisions amid heightened political turmoil and tribal and sectarian tensions that have rocked the oil-rich Persian Gulf state.

“Democratic practice has its principles and limits. … If it exceeds that it turns into chaos,” Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in televised speech, adding that such chaos is a threat to Kuwait’s security and stability.

Tribal and sectarian tensions have surfaced in Kuwait over the past few weeks, with the emirate’s Bedouin tribes staging two massive rallies last week to protest a controversial television show. The minority Shi’ite Muslims also organized a large gathering to protest comments made by some Sunni activists deemed offensive to their faith.

Opposition lawmakers, who earlier this month grilled the prime minister and three other Cabinet members over allegations of corruption, have again threatened to question the officials.

Since 2006, Kuwait has had six Cabinets and parliament was dissolved three times because of political tensions between the government, headed by Sheik Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a nephew of the ruler, and lawmakers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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