- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009


Seven charged in Mumbai attacks

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan charged seven men in last year’s Mumbai attacks Wednesday, its first indictment in a case being monitored by India and the United States to see whether Islamabad makes good on promises to bring those responsible to justice.

Despite a crackdown in the months following the attacks, analysts say Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group blamed for the three-day assault on the financial center that killed 166 people, remains active and largely untouched by Pakistani authorities.

The charges were announced in a closed-door court located inside a high-security prison in Rawalpindi, near the capital of Islamabad, on the eve of the first anniversary of the attacks.

Two of the defendants, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, have been publicly accused by India of masterminding the attacks. They were arrested in December, while the other five were detained in subsequent months.

The men, who could face the death penalty if convicted, pleaded not guilty to charges of planning and helping to execute the attack, defense attorney Shahbaz Rajput and prosecutor Malik Rab Nawaz said.

India is trying the lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab, who also faces the death penalty.


Election attack toll rises to 57

AMPATUAN | Officials found 11 more bodies Wednesday at the site of an attack on an election caravan in the south, bringing the death toll in the massacre to 57, and police said they are investigating a member of a powerful clan allied with the president’s administration.

Six of the bodies in southern Maguindanao province were discovered in a large pit buried alongside three vehicles, and five were found in a mass grave a few miles off the main highway.

The dead from Monday’s massacre included the wife and two sisters of gubernatorial candidate Ismael Mangudadatu and 18 Philippine journalists accompanying the caravan. It is the largest number of reporters killed in a single attack anywhere in the world, according to media groups.

Police identified the prime suspect as Andal Ampatuan Jr., a scion of the powerful Ampatuan clan led by the former provincial governor. The clan, which has ruled the province unopposed for eight years, helped President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies win the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections by delivering crucial votes.


Heavy rains soak hajj pilgrims

JIDDA | The heaviest rain to hit Islam’s annual hajj pilgrimage in years soaked the faithful and flooded the road to Mecca, snarling traffic as millions of Muslims headed for the holy sites. The downpours add an extra hazard on top of intense concerns about the spread of swine flu.

Pilgrims in white robes holding umbrellas, some wearing face masks for fear of the flu, circled the black cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, the opening rite for the hajj.

Mecca and the nearby Red Sea coastal city of Jidda often see heavy rains during the winter months, and Wednesday’s were unusually strong, swamping Jidda with 2.76 inches of rain, more than it gets in a year on average, according to weather officials.


2 Beefeaters fired for bullying colleague

LONDON | Two ceremonial guards known as Beefeaters at the historic Tower of London were fired Wednesday after an internal investigation found that they harassed their first and only female colleague.

The Tower of London said it conducted a thorough investigation after allegations arose that Moira Cameron - the first female yeoman warder at the popular tourist attraction that is home to Britain’s Crown Jewels - was a victim of a bullying campaign by her colleagues.

Tower spokeswoman Ruth Howlett said Ms. Cameron’s entry in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia had been defaced. Ms. Cameron, 44, was the first woman selected to join the all-male ranks of the Tower’s yeoman warders two years ago.

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