- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

IRAQ

U.S. soldier held in 5 GI fatalities

BAGHDAD | An American soldier opened fire at a counseling center on a military base Monday, killing five fellow soldiers before being taken into custody, the U.S. command and Pentagon officials said.

Although it was unclear what prompted the shooting, the incident draws attention to the issue of combat stress and morale after six years of war as the mission of the 130,000-strong force transforms to one of training and mentoring the Iraqis.

Attacks on fellow soldiers were not uncommon during the Vietnam war but considered rare in Iraq and Afghanistan.



A brief U.S. statement said the assailant was taken into custody after the 2 p.m. shootings at Camp Liberty, a sprawling U.S. base on the western edge of Baghdad near the city’s international airport.

SRI LANKA

Mass graves follow reports of bloodbath

COLOMBO | Volunteers dug mass graves in the marshes of Sri Lanka’s northern war zone Monday as they buried hundreds of civilians killed in artillery attacks that the U.N. characterized as a “bloodbath.”

A doctor in the war zone said as many as 1,000 civilians may have been killed in two days of shelling that marked some of the worst violence in this Indian Ocean island nation since the civil war flared up again more than three years ago.

With the civilian death toll soaring, the Tamil Tiger rebels and a coalition of international human rights groups separately have called for the U.N. Security Council to urgently hold talks on the conflict. But with several nations protesting such talks, that seemed unlikely.

LIBYA

Iraq fabricator commits suicide

TRIPOLI | A Libyan Islamist whose fabricated testimony about al Qaeda was used by the United States to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq has killed himself in his Libyan jail cell, a Libyan newspaper reported Monday.

“[Fakhiri] who is known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was found dead after he committed suicide,” Oed newspaper reported on its Web site, adding that Libyan authorities were investigating the case.

Captured by U.S.-led forces in Pakistan in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Ali Mohamed Abdelaziz al Fakhiri later made up a story about links between al Qaeda and Iraq to avoid torture while in the custody of a third country, according to a 2006 U.S. Senate intelligence panel report.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Prince detained in torture probe

ABU DHABI | Prosecutors have detained a member of the Persian Gulf emirate’s ruling family as they investigate a video that appears to show him torturing an Afghan man, the Judicial Department said Monday.

The move, reported by the official WAM news agency, is the first reported investigation of a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, has been trying to improve its rights image after criticism from its top Western ally, the United States, and rights groups in recent years.

The video, aired last month by the U.S. network ABC, shows the Afghan being abused with an electric cattle prod, beaten with whips and a plank of wood with a nail in it and hit by a car at a desert location in 2004.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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