- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009


Ex-spy arrested in journalist killing

KIEV | Ukrainian authorities have arrested a former intelligence official in the slaying of an investigative journalist who was kidnapped and decapitated nine years ago, officials said Wednesday.

Opponents and rights groups accused then-President Leonid Kuchma of involvement in the 2000 slaying of reporter Heorhiy Gongadze, who had written about corruption allegations against high-ranking officials. The killing sparked months of protests against Mr. Kuchma after a key witness released tape recordings in which a voice that sounded like Mr. Kuchma’s is heard complaining about the journalist and suggesting that subordinates deal with the problem.

Mr. Kuchma has denied involvement in the killing. But the late Tuesday arrest of Olexiy Pukach, chief of the Interior Ministry’s surveillance department at the time of the slaying, is likely to bolster suspicions of high-level complicity.

Pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko has vowed to fight corruption and pledged to bring the killers to justice, The arrest came during a visit from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. but Ukrainian officials denied there was any connection.


5 Iranian pilgrims killed bby gunman

BAGHDAD | Gunmen in four cars opened fire Wednesday on a convoy of buses carrying Iranian pilgrims on their way to the holy Shi’ite city of Najaf, killing five of them, Iraqi police said.

About 35 others were wounded in the attack, which occurred near the village of Kebasi about 100 miles north of the capital.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims - many of them from neighboring Iran - travel to Iraq every year to visit Shi’ite holy sites including the cities of Najaf and Karbala, and the Kazimiyah shrine in Baghdad. Many of the Iranian pilgrims travel overland through Diyala province which borders Iran and then on to Baghdad as well as Najaf and Karbala south of the capital.


Wife of wanted militant detained

JAKARTA | A wife of one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted militants was detained for questioning Wednesday after bombings last week at two luxury hotels in the Indonesian capital killed seven people, local television reported.

Anti-terrorism police detained Ariana Rahma, one of the wives of Malaysian fugitive Noordin Mohammed Top, TVOne and MetroTV said without citing sources. Investigators said Ms. Rahma was among four people detained in the town of Cilacap in central Java. They said she was being taken to Jakarta, where suicide bombers at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed seven people, including six foreigners, and wounded more than 50 on Friday.


3 hurt in attack at gold mine

JAKARTA | Three more people were wounded by gunfire Wednesday at the world’s largest gold mine, the latest ambush targeting employees of U.S. conglomerate Freeport in Indonesia’s underdeveloped Papua province.

It was the sixth attack by unidentified gunman on the Phoenix-based company in under two weeks, and marked the worst violence at Freeport since the 2002 killing of three schoolteachers, including two Americans.


Brawl breaks out in parliament

SEOUL | Hundreds of competing lawmakers screamed and wrestled in South Korea’s parliament Wednesday as a rivalry over contentious media reform bills descended into a brawl that sent at least one to a hospital.

Lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party occupied the speaker’s podium in a bid to quickly pass the bills aimed at easing restrictions on ownership of television networks. Opposition parties responded by stacking up furniture to block ruling party members from entering the main hall of the National Assembly.


‘Catastrophe’ cut from textbooks

JERUSALEM | The Israeli government will remove references to what Palestinians call the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation from textbooks for Arab schoolchildren, the education minister said Wednesday.

The reference to “al-naqba,” the Arabic word catastrophe, as Palestinians call their defeat and exile in the war over Israel’s 1948 creation, was inserted by a dovish Israeli education minister in 2007.

The phrase remains contentious six decades later, a symptom of the continuing divisions in Israel. Many Israeli Arabs identify politically with their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank and Gaza. As a result, some Israeli Jews accuse Israeli Arabs of disloyalty to the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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