- The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2009

PAKISTAN

Pilotless drone hits militants

PESHAWAR - What is suspected to be a pilotless U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles in a Pakistani region on the Afghan border on Sunday killing at least eight militants, including foreigners, intelligence officials said.

Two missiles struck a house near Sarorogha village in the South Waziristan tribal region, a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, one of the officials said.

Another intelligence official said missiles targeted a bunker near the house.

A villager, Hakeemullah, told Reuters that eight bodies had been recovered from the rubble and that people were searching for more casualties.

The United States began staging drone attacks with greater frequency a year ago, and there has been no let-up since President Obama took over in January, despite complaints from the Pakistani government.

ALGERIA

Government forces target al Qaeda

ALGIERS | Security forces have killed 120 militants linked to al Qaeda in Algeria over the past six months and arrested 322, the government said Sunday.

Speaking at a police academy diploma ceremony in the capital, Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni attributed the results to increased security efforts in the North African country since August, when al Qaeda’s local offshoot claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings that left more than 100 people dead.

Mr. Zerhouni also said 22 militants gave themselves up, and 150 weapons have been seized. Those in custody include some high-ranking militant chiefs, such as Ali Bentouati - a senior “emir,” or commander, for the zone of central Algeria. He surrendered to police in January.

The security sweeps are mainly because of “a better penetration of terror support networks and terrorist groups,” he was quoted as saying by the state news agency, APS. “This is the proof of evolving intelligence techniques.”

BANGLADESH

Border guards charged with murder

DHAKA | More than 1,000 border guards were charged Sunday with murder and arson in an uprising that left at least 148 people dead or missing, most of them army officers, after the government withdrew its promise of amnesty and sought to repair its increasingly tense relations with the military.

One officer - among just 33 known to have survived the bloody siege - said the mutiny was “like doomsday for me.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met inside army headquarters Sunday with military officials who were furious that she offered amnesty to the mutinous border guards to persuade them to surrender during the two-day siege.

The officers argued that lives could have been saved if Ms. Hasina had ordered an army assault on the guards’ compound.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai election plan upsets opponents

KABUL | President Hamid Karzai’s call to suddenly move up elections from late summer to early spring drew cries of “sabotage” Sunday from political opponents who know they can’t win the presidency if a vote is held next month.

But few in the capital think Mr. Karzai’s decree is anything but a political gambit meant to give him the high ground in a tussle for power come May 22, when the Afghan constitution says his five-year term expires.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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