- - Tuesday, July 31, 2012


OSLO — The U.S. Embassy and an area of central Oslo were evacuated Tuesday when a fake explosive device was mistakenly left beneath a vehicle trying to enter the compound, police said.

The discovery of the device by security guards also led to the evacuation of the royal palace, the halting of subway traffic in the area, and the cancellation of an international children’s soccer game at nearby Voldslokka Stadium so police could use the field for helicopters.

The bomb scare and police search closed the entire area for several hours.

“The Oslo police bomb squad has removed the object and can confirm that it was a dummy bomb,” police said in a statement. “The car has been used for an internal drill at the embassy, and the find can be connected to this.”

Norway’s monarch was not at the palace at the time, but people visiting it were evacuated during the security check.

The U.S. Embassy did not immediately comment about how the mistake had been made.


Iran vows to resist sanctions ‘warfare’

TEHRAN — Iranian officials unleashed sharper attacks against tightening Western sanctions Tuesday, equating the financial pressure to “warfare” and vowing to counter by retooling the country’s oil-dependent economy.

The defensive remarks from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran’s central bank appear to reflect two sides of the economic squeeze on the country: growing anxiety about the drain from sanctions and high-level efforts to find ways to ride them out.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks came after Congress pressed ahead late Monday with a new package of sanctions on Iran, expanding financial penalties and further targeting Tehran’s energy and shipping sectors in the hope that economic pressure will undercut the country’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Iran denies it seeks atomic weapons, saying its nuclear activities have aimed at power generation and cancer treatment.

Iran has managed to overcome U.S.-led embargoes and other attempts at economic isolation with self-sufficiency moves such as developing domestic industries and emphasizing high-tech advances including an aerospace program.

But the current sanctions are hitting Iran in its most vulnerable spot — its vital oil exports — and are forcing major reassessments within a nation that was recently OPEC’s No. 2 exporter.


Spaniard charged in dissident’s death

HAVANA — Cuba has charged a Spanish citizen with the equivalent of vehicular manslaughter in a car accident that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya and another government opponent, official media said Tuesday.

Angel Carromero, who was behind the wheel of the car that was carrying Mr. Paya when it crashed July 22, “has been accused of the charge of homicide while driving a vehicle on public roads,” Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

Under the penal code, a person convicted of violating traffic laws or rules resulting in the death of another can be sentenced one to 10 years in prison.

In videotaped testimony played for journalists Monday, Mr. Carromero said he lost control of the car when it suddenly entered an unpaved area of road under construction and he slammed on the brakes, causing it to skid.

An investigation found that Mr. Carromero was speeding and failed to heed traffic signs warning of the construction, and Cuban authorities had hinted that charges might be forthcoming. Another dissident, Harold Cepero, also died in the crash.


U.N envoy visits site of ethnic clashes

SITTWE — A U.N. human rights envoy traveled to western Myanmar on Tuesday to investigate communal violence that left at least 78 dead and tens of thousands homeless.

Tomas Ojea Quintana’s evaluation is likely to be regarded as a yardstick for measuring the reforms undertaken by President Thein Sein after decades of repressive military rule.

The violence has subsided, but human rights groups and Islamic nations have called for the protection of the Rohingya community, saying it faces ongoing abuse.

The envoy flew to Rakhine state for a first-hand look at the cities and towns where ferocious violence erupted last month between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.

Mr. Quintana visited two of the main sites of the June violence, the state capital of Sittwe and Maungdaw township, but declined to answer journalists’ questions about what he found.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as one of its ethnic groups, and many in the country consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The U.N. says there are about 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar, and considers them to be among the most persecuted people in the world.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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