- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009


Another hit scored on al Qaeda leader

ISLAMABAD | An al Qaeda operations chief in Pakistan and an Uzbek militant commander are thought to have been killed in U.S. missile strikes in the northwest of the country earlier this month, Pakistani officials said Thursday.

If confirmed, the deaths of Ilyas Kashmiri and Nazimuddin, alias Yahyo, indicate that the U.S. policy of using unmanned aircraft to attack targets on Pakistan’s side of the Afghan border is working.

The tactic has been publicly criticized by the Pakistani government, but many think officials here secretly endorse it.


Lawmaker disputes claim on refugees

COLOMBO | Hundreds of Tamil war refugees whom the Sri Lankan government said it had released from military-run camps last week were simply moved to other detention centers, a lawmaker said Thursday.

Mavai Senathiraja, a parliamentarian from the Tamil National Alliance, an opposition party representing ethnic Tamils, also claimed thousands of others who were promised freedom remain in the camps.

He made the claims as a top U.N. official toured the camps in the north of the country where nearly 300,000 minority Tamils forced from their homes by the civil war are being detained. The 25-year war ended in May when the government routed the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Human rights advocates have called on Sri Lanka to immediately release all the civilians held in the camps and have warned that monsoon rains due to start next month could create a public health crisis.

The government has refused to open the camp gates, but says it will resettle 80 percent of the displaced by the end of the year, after land mines are cleared from their villages.

To buttress that promise, the government announced on Sept. 11 that it had released 9,920 people and sent them to their homes in the country’s east and north.

Mr. Senathiraja said 6,000 of those promised release last week were from his constituency in northern Jaffna, but only 580 arrived in the area and all of them were immediately sent to another camp, where they continue to be detained.

In the eastern districts of Ampara and Trincomalee, many returning war refugees were being held in schools that have been turned into makeshift camps, he said.

Human rights minister Mahinda Samarasinghe declined to comment on the charge, saying he just returned from abroad. Presidential adviser Basil Rajapaksa, who is overseeing the camps and resettlement, did not return a call seeking comment.


Testimony ends in Duch trial

PHNOM PENH | Testimony concluded Thursday in the first U.N.-backed trial of a high-ranking member of Cambodia’s former Khmer Rouge regime.

The tribunal is trying Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who commanded S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, where up to 16,000 people were tortured and then taken away to be killed. He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody awaiting trial.

The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the ultracommunist group’s policies while in power from 1975 to 1979.

Pending rulings on the final submissions to the court, more courtroom questioning might be conducted, the tribunal said in a statement. Otherwise, closing arguments are set to start on Nov. 23.

Duch is the only one of the accused Khmer Rouge leaders to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Cambodia has no death penalty.


Typhoon kills 9; many missing

BEIJING | Nine people have been killed and nine others are missing after Typhoon Koppu roared into the southern province of Guangdong, Chinese media reported Thursday.

The Xinhua news agency said the deaths were caused by landslides, collapsed homes and flooding caused by torrential rains. The missing were swept away by flash floods.

Koppu, the 15th typhoon to strike China this year, brought heavy rains to western China and northern parts of Southeast Asia and helped relieve drought conditions in parts of Guangdong.

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