- The Washington Times - Monday, May 3, 2010


Violence kills 25 near U.S.-Mexico border

CIUDAD JUAREZ | Mexico’s bloody drug wars saw a new spasm of killings late Saturday into Sunday, with 25 people fatally shot in the northern state of Chihuahua bordering the United States.

Seven of the deaths occurred in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, bringing to 62 the number of people killed in the city over the past week.

The 18 other slayings overnight included four people fatally shot by automatic weapons in a bar in the town of Camargo, and two women whose bodies were found stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car in the same town, prosecutors said.

So far this year, more than 850 people have been killed in Juarez, while more than 2,660 were killed there in 2009, according to official figures.

Mexican authorities blame the violence on a battle for control of key drug-trafficking routes into the United States between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug gangs.


Opposition allowed to hold protest

HAVANA | Cuba allowed a small group of dissidents to hold a protest march on Sunday after the country’s top Roman Catholic clergyman negotiated with authorities, ending three straight weeks of ugly confrontations.

The government’s decision was a victory for the Damas de Blanco — or Ladies in White — who had marched peacefully and with little fanfare down Havana’s Quinta Avenida boulevard for seven years before the government suddenly forbade the protests on April 11.

The group is made up of the wives and mothers of about 75 dissidents imprisoned in a 2003 crackdown, as well as supporters who joined them later.


Report: Jordan River could die by 2011

ALUMOT | The once-mighty Jordan River, where Christians believe Jesus was baptized, is now little more than a polluted stream that could die next year unless the decay is halted, environmentalists said on Monday.

The famed river “has been reduced to a trickle south of the Sea of Galilee, devastated by overexploitation, pollution and lack of regional management,” Friends of the Earth Middle East said in a report.

More than 98 percent of the river’s flow has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan over the years.


Bomb strikes amid fears of Afghan deaths

KABUL | A roadside bomb tore through a minibus in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday as the government said civilian casualties are on the rise ahead of a military buildup to combat the resurgent Taliban.

The explosion struck the Zurmat district of Paktia province Sunday evening, district chief Gulab Shah said. There was no official death toll in the Taliban-held area, but a witness said he counted seven corpses and 14 wounded.

Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. and other international forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan, although the U.N. says the Taliban are responsible for most civilian casualties.

Public outrage over civilian deaths prompted the top commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, last year to tighten the rules on the use of air strikes and other weaponry if civilians are at risk.

There are fears the problem could get worse with 30,000 U.S. and NATO reinforcements heading to Afghanistan as part of a military buildup to take on the Taliban in the south.


Police arrest 10 on terrorism charges

ADDIS ABABA | Police arrested 10 suspected Islamic militants they think were sent by Eritrea to carry out attacks to upset May 23 general elections, the information minister told Agence France-Presse on Sunday.

Ethiopia and Eritrea frequently accuse each other of being involved in attacks committed on their territories. The two countries clashed violently in 1998 and 2000 in a border war that killed 80,000 people.

The Horn of Africa nation votes on May 23, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party has come under fire over its restriction of opposition and media freedoms as well as soaring inflation and unemployment figures.

The election will be the first since about 200 people died in postelection violence in 2005, sparked by accusations that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front had rigged the balloting.


Merkel: ‘Trust’ lacking in climate talks

BONN | German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday urged world environment ministers “to find a basis of trust” before the next U.N. meeting in Cancun, Mexico, recalling the near-collapse of the Copenhagen climate summit.

“One thing that did not work well in Copenhagen is that a small circle met, and the regional groups felt left out of the debate,” she told ministers and negotiators from about 45 countries convened to breathe life into stalled climate talks,” Mrs. Merkel said.

“A preparatory job before Cancun will be to find a basis of trust for all countries that will be present in Cancun so that no one feels left out.”

Many of the 194 nations in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change have not backed the Copenhagen Accord, complaining that it was hammered out at the last minute behind closed doors by a handful of powerful economies led by China and the United States.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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