- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Adoptions freeze to last for weeks

MOSCOW | All Russian adoptions to the United States will remain suspended until a new agreement is negotiated, which could take up to two months, the Kremlin’s children’s rights ombudsman said Monday.

Russia froze U.S. adoptions last week after a boy was put on a plane back to Russia by his adoptive American mother. The woman said she “no longer wishes to parent” Artyom Savelyev, who had just turned 8.

A U.S. delegation had been expected to begin talks on a new adoption agreement in Moscow on Monday, but their flight from Washington was canceled because of volcanic ash. It was not clear immediately when the talks would start.


23 people killed in 2 bomb attacks

PESHAWAR | Two bombs, hours apart, exploded in Peshawar on Monday, killing 23 people and underscoring the reach of militants despite successive military offensives close to the Afghan border.

A suicide bomber was behind the deadliest blast, which occurred just before dusk in a crowded market area.

Police said the target was officers watching over a rally against power cuts in the city. Police officers and protesters were among the 22 dead and more than 30 injured.

The rally was being held by the Jamaat-e-Islami party, an Islamist group that is sympathetic to many of the goals of the Taliban and regularly criticizes army operations against them.


Opposition activists sentenced to prison

TEHRAN | Iran has sentenced three prominent political activists to six years in prison each for involvement in the country’s post-election turmoil, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday.

The three are among more than 100 opposition figures who were put on a mass trial in the wake of the country’s disputed June presidential elections. The trial has led to a dozen death sentences so far.

IRNA said the activists — Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mostafa Tajzadeh and Davood Soleimani — were convicted of spreading propaganda against Iran.


U.S.: No threat from deserted base

KABUL | A video appearing to show the Taliban in control of a mountain outpost deserted by American troops last week in eastern Afghanistan does not cast doubt over the decision to pull out of the Korengal Valley, the U.S. military said Monday.

The footage, aired on Al-Jazeera, shows armed men who identify themselves as Taliban fighters and villagers walking through a former U.S. base in the eastern valley, from which the last of about 120 U.S. troops withdrew last week.

In the video, militants say they control the entire six-mile-long Korengal valley in eastern Kunar province.


Panel orders recount of Baghdad votes

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi panel investigating election complaints ordered on Monday a recount of more than 2.5 million votes cast in Baghdad during the March 7 election, agreeing to a demand by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that could swing the outcome in his favor.

Mr. Al-Maliki won 89 of 325 parliamentary seats in the election, coming in second behind former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi with 91 seats.

Neither has been able to cobble together a majority coalition with the support of other parties yet, and in the meantime, Mr. al-Maliki has been trying to alter the outcome of the vote through various court appeals and other challenges and by trying to woo support away from Mr. Allawi.


Official: Gunmen nab Germans in oil-rich area

LAGOS | Gunmen abducted two Germans who sought respite along a beach in Nigeria’s oil-rich and violent southern region, an area long targeted by kidnappers ranging from criminal gangs to armed militants, a private security official said Monday.

The official said the two men visited a beach Sunday along the Imo River in Abia state, near the oil-rich swamps and creeks of the Niger delta. The two men had started walking back to their car, where their driver waited, when gunmen seized them.

Militants in the delta have kidnapped oil workers during their campaign to bring more oil money to a region that suffered environmental damage and economic neglect over 50 years of production. However, criminal gangs increasingly target wealthy Nigerians and politicians for kidnappings, and also foreigners who stumble into their path.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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