- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

INDIA

Terrorist makes surprise confession

MUMBAI | The lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks made a surprise confession at his trial Monday, saying he was recruited by a militant group inside Pakistan after he left a low-paying job and went looking for training to become a professional robber.

The confession by Ajmal Kasab bolstered India’s charges that terrorist groups in neighboring Pakistan were behind the well-planned attack, which killed 166 people and put the brakes on a peace process between the nuclear-armed enemies.

As part of the confession, Kasab described how he sprayed automatic gunfire at commuters while a comrade hurled grenades inside a railway station during one of India’s worst terrorist acts.

Kasab, a Pakistani who had consistently denied a role in the November rampage, reversed himself without warning, shocking even his lawyer.

SOUTH AFRICA

Trial begins of AIDS vaccine

CAPE TOWN | South Africa launched a high-profile trial of an AIDS vaccine created by its own researchers Monday, a proud moment in a nation where government denial, neglect and unscientific responses have helped fuel the world’s worst AIDS crisis.

After a government official lauded the project at a ceremony at Cape Town’s Crossroads shantytown, the scientist leading the research said state funding had been halted.

Anna-Lise Williamson, an AIDS researcher at the University of Cape Town, told the Associated Press that the clinical trial would continue with U.S. money. But she said South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology had pulled its funding in March, while the project’s other sponsor, the state electricity utility Eskom, did not renew its contract last year.

Neither government spokesmen nor Eskom immediately returned calls seeking comment about funding cuts.

ITALY

Sex scandal takes new turn

ROME | An Italian newsweekly released tape recordings of what it says was the night Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi spent with a prostitute in which the premier is purportedly heard asking her to wait for him in bed while he showers.

Mr. Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, disputed the veracity of the tapes, saying Monday that they were “without any merit, completely improbable and the fruit of invention.”

Patrizia D’Addario, has said she taped her encounters with Mr. Berlusconi as well as the parties he threw for young women at his residences, which have become the source of major scandal for the 72-year-old leader.

Mr. Berlusconi has denied he ever paid anyone for sex.

IRAQ

Iraqis block U.S. requests

BAGHDAD | The Iraqi military has turned down requests from U.S. forces to move unescorted through Baghdad and conduct a raid since the transition of responsibility for urban security at the end of last month, an Iraqi military commander said Monday.

U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban areas June 30 under a security agreement with Iraq that requires all U.S. troops to be out of the country by the end of 2011.

Col. Ali Fadhil, a brigade commander in Baghdad, told the Associated Press about two occasions in which Iraqi troops turned down U.S. requests to move around the capital until they had Iraqi escorts, and one instance to conduct a raid, which the Iraqis carried out themselves.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, downplayed reports of tension. Both said cooperation is going well.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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