- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 26, 2009

BRITAIN

Libya asks to free Lockerbie bomber

LONDON | The Libyan government has formally asked Scotland for the compassionate release of the former Libyan agent imprisoned for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, the Scottish government said Saturday.

Libyan authorities made the application on behalf of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for blowing up a Pan Am airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 259 people on board the London flight to New York were killed, including 189 Americans, along with 11 people on the ground.

Libya has repeatedly brought up the fate of the 57-year-old al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, most recently at a meeting in Italy between Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this month.

But the British government has said it is a matter for Scotland, which has a separate legal system from the rest of Britain.

BRITAIN

Last WWI veteran dies at 111

LONDON | Harry Patch, Britain’s last survivor of the trenches of World War I, was a reluctant soldier who became a powerful eyewitness to the horror of war, and a symbol of a lost generation.

Mr. Patch, who died Saturday at 111, was wounded in 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele, which he remembered as “mud, mud and more mud, mixed together with blood.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defense called Mr. Patch the last British military survivor of the 1914-18 war, although British-born Claude Choules of Australia, 108, is believed to have served in the Royal Navy during the conflict.

The Ministry of Defense said Mr. Patch was the last soldier of any nationality to have fought in the brutal trench warfare that has become the enduring image of the conflict. There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive. The last known U.S. veteran is Frank Buckles of Charles Town, W.Va., 108.

COLOMBIA

5 prospectors dead, 7 hurt in landslide

BOGOTA | Five people died and seven were injured in a landslide in rural northwestern Colombia as they were prospecting for gold in a river, the Colombian air force said Saturday in updating its final toll.

The injured, the air force said, were evacuated from Novita, where the avalanche took place after a river near the Pacific Coast overflowed, and were taken to Pereira to receive specialized medical care.

The victims were miners and prospectors who were surprised by the avalanche, said Paul Torres, head of Valle department civil defense. Novita Mayor Iber Lopez had said Friday that at least five people were killed and 25 were left missing after the avalanche took place late Thursday as a result of heavy rains.

Rescue efforts were suspended Friday owing to inclement weather in the affected area, which is only accessible by river or air.

COLOMBIA

16 rebels, soldier killed in fighting

BOGOTA | At least 16 suspected guerrillas and one soldier have been killed in clashes, the Colombian military said Saturday.

Defense Minister Gen. Freddy Padilla said troops faced off with rebels belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the southern department of Meta.

He said soldiers seized camping equipment, munitions and other items following clashes Friday and Saturday. He added that the suspected rebels answered to No. 2 FARC commander Jorge Briceno.

INDIA

Bill Gates wins peace prize

NEW DELHI | Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Saturday received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development from India’s president.

The prize recognizes his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations for creative efforts that promote peace, development and a new international economic order.

As of this month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had committed nearly $1 billion for health and development projects in India. Most of the money has gone to prevent AIDS and eradicate polio.

The foundation got a cash reward of 2.5 million rupees ($52,000) from the Indian government, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The prize is in memory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

NORTH KOREA

Fast-food diner opens in Pyongyang

SEOUL | You still can’t get a hamburger in Pyongyang, but a suspiciously similar “minced beef and bread” is for sale at the North Korean capital’s first fast-food restaurant, a news report said Saturday.

The Samtaeseong restaurant opened in the isolated communist country last month in cooperation with a Singaporean company, according to the Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo. The Singaporean company provided training to restaurant staff and supplied equipment.

The restaurant’s interior appears to be styled after fast-food joints the world over, but the menu is careful not to call its signature fare a hamburger - lest it give the impression North Koreans had embraced the American icon.

In March, the Choson Sinbo, widely considered a mouthpiece for the North Korean government, reported that leader Kim Jong-il had ordered the opening of the country’s first Italian restaurant.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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