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ISLAMABAD, July 30 - Hundreds of militants in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province have forcibly occupied a local mosque and named it after Islamabad's Lal Masjid while vowing to continue the mission of slain radical cleric Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi. The militants have also decided to establish a seminary similar to Jamia Hafsa, the girls madrassa attached to Lal Masjid which was razed to the ground by the government after its capture early in July.
The 150 armed masked men took up positions in and around the Jamia Masjid Ghaziabad Lakaro on Saturday night. The gunmen announced they were renaming the mosque as "Lal Masjid" and the madrassa would be called "Jamia Hafsa Umme Hassan", Dawn quoted witnesses as saying. [More>>expressindia.com ; See related story, thenews.com.pk, July 30, "Three security men martyred in N. Waziristan attacks." : ...Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad told Geo News three security men were killed in an attack on a check post in Miranshah. He said four security men suffered injuries while traveling to Miranshah from Bannu...
07.30.07 'Musharraf may quit army to seal Bhutto deal'
ISLAMABAD (AFP) July 30 - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf may hang up his army uniform to pave the way for a pact with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after the pair met in Abu Dhabi, a minister said on Monday. Military ruler Musharraf and Bhutto met in Abu Dhabi on Friday for talks on a possible power-sharing deal but could not reach an understanding on two key issues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi told AFP. The sticking points were the issue of Musharraf’s dual role as president and army chief and a bar that prevents Bhutto having a third term as premier, Niazi said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.30.07 Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighboring countries
July 30 - Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War.
The US and Britain may not want to dwell on the disasters that have befallen Iraq during their occupation but the shanty towns crammed with refugees springing up in Iraq and neighboring countries are becoming impossible to ignore. Even so the UNHCR is having difficulty raising $100m (£50m) for relief. The organization says the two countries caring for the biggest proportion of Iraqi refugees - Syria and Jordan - have still received "next to nothing from the world community". Some 1.4 million Iraqis have fled to Syria according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, Jordan has taken in 750 000 while Egypt and Lebanon have seen 200 000 Iraqis cross into their territories. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See related stories, turkishpress.com, July 29, "Iraqis greet Asian Cup triumph with joyful gunfire." and aljazeera.net, July 30, "Half of Iraq in absolute poverty.' "]
07.30.07 Russian FM tells visiting Abbas he has Moscow's firm support
July 30 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday that Moscow supports him in his conflict with Hamas. "We firmly support you as leader of the entire Palestinian people," Lavrov told Abbas, making his first trip to Russia since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Abbas, who arrived Sunday in Moscow, was also slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his three-day trip. The daily newspaper Kommersant reported that Abbas hoped to persuade Putin to give full support to his Fatah movement. [More>>haaretz.com ; See also rian.ru.]
07.29.07 Bush aide blocked report
July 29 - A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.
07.29.07 Myanmar reports new bird flu outbreak
YANGON (AFP) July 29 - Myanmar has detected a fresh outbreak of bird flu on two poultry farms south of the capital Yangon, state media said on Sunday. Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that dead chickens at the farms in Mon state, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Yangon, had been infected with the H5N1 virus, the official Mirror newspaper said. Animal health officials killed about 300 chickens on the two farms, the paper said, quoting Myanmar's livestock breeding and veterinary department.
07.29.07 UN Afghanistan envoy calls for more Western troops
BERLIN (AFP) July 29 - The senior UN envoy to Afghanistan said the country needed more Western troops to fend off the Taliban insurgency, and argued that a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pullout would amount to capitulation. Tom Koenigs told the online version of newsweekly Der Spiegel that, in particular Germany, which has about 3,000 troops in the country, should send more soldiers and instructors to train the Afghan army and police force.
07.29.07 Taliban sets new deadline in hostage crisis
July 29 - The Taliban said Sunday they would kill "some" of their 22 South Korean hostages unless the government agreed to release militant prisoners by 4:30pm Monday in Korean time (0730 GMT). The Taliban leadership committee had decided that if the Afghan and South Korean governments "don't pay attention to this issue by tomorrow 12 o'clock, the Taliban will kill some Korean hostages," a militant spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP. The Afghan government said earlier Sunday that it wanted the 16 women in the group of Christian aid workers abducted 10 days ago to be freed before it would consider any Taliban demands. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr]
07.28.07 Official: $20 billion arms sale to Saudis in the works
WASHINGTON, July 28 - The United States is developing a proposed $20 billion, 10-year arms sales package for Saudi Arabia, a senior administration official confirmed on Saturday. The proposed sale, first reported in The New York Times, is intended to upgrade the Saudi military's ability to counter possible Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf region, the official said.
"This is all about Iran," said the official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because discussions with the Saudis are still going on and the arms sale deal has not been completed. Israel is expected to raise objections to the arms package, and has expressed concerns about previous Saudi arms deals. The official said the Bush administration is mindful that Israel must maintain its "qualitative edge" in the region. [More>>cnn.com ; See related story, haaretz.com, July 29, "Olmert welcomes 'significant' boost in US military aid." : Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday welcomed an "important and significant improvement" in the amount of American military aid to Israel, which aims to calm fears over an impending major US weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. Sources in Jerusalem told Haaretz over the weekend that Washington is prepared to increase military aid to Israel in order to ease the defense establishment's concern over the proposed American weapons sale to Riyadh...
07.28.07 As US rebuilds, Iraq won't act on finished work
July 28 - Iraq's national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.The conclusions, detailed in a report released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a federal oversight agency, include the finding that of 2,797 completed projects costing $5.8 billion, Iraq's national government had, by the spring of this year, accepted only 435 projects valued at $501 million. Few transfers to Iraqi national government control have taken place since the current Iraqi government, which is frequently criticized for inaction on matters relating to the American intervention, took office in 2006.
...The process of transferring projects to Iraq “worked for a while,” Mr. Bowen said. But then the new government took over and installed its finance minister, Bayan Jabr, who has been a continuing center of controversy in his various government posts and is formally in charge of the transfers. "After Mr. Jabr took over, that process ceased to function," Mr. Bowen said.
...The report was released too late in the day to contact Mr. Jabr, who is part of a Shiite alliance in charge of the government. In his previous position as interior minister, he was accused of running Shiite death squads out of the ministry. In his current position he has developed a reputation as being slow to release budget money to Iraqi government entities, which would have to run the new projects at substantial expense. [Full story>>nytimes.com]
07.28.07 Baghdad car bombing kills 4, injures 10
BAGHDAD (AP) July 28 - A parked car bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in predominantly Shiite eastern Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least four people and wounding 10, police said. The bomb was the latest in a series of explosions targeting commercial centers. The blast struck about noon, a peak time for street vendors and nearby stores along the Maaskar al-Rashid street, a popular gathering point for people selling tires and spare parts for automobiles. Police who gave the casualty toll said several stores also were damaged. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
07.27.07 Cops among 14 killed in Islamabad suicide blast
ISLAMABAD, July 27 - A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of policemen during clashes at the Lal Mosque here on Friday, killing at least 14 people and injuring over 60 people, most of the victims included the cops, the sources said.The blast came after hundreds of radical students occupied the mosque in the heart of Islamabad after its official government reopening, which followed an army operation earlier this month in which more than 100 people died.
Policemen's caps and shoes lay alongside body parts at the scene of the blast in one of the leafy city's busiest bazaars, where police were resting after firing tear gas at stone-throwing protesters, the eyewitnesses said. "A man detonated explosives strapped to his body among two rows of Punjab police constabulary members who were there on duty because of the unrest at the Red Mosque," the security official said on condition of anonymity. "At least 13 people have been killed and many wounded. Most of the dead were policemen," he added. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
07.27.07 Saudis' role in Iraq frutstrates US officials
WASHINGTON, July 26 - ...Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia's counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow...[Full story>>nytimes.com]
07.27.07 US says kills 17 militiamen in Iraq clashes
KERBALA, Iraq (Reuters) July 27 - The US military said on Friday it had killed around 17 militia fighters in clashes in Iraq's holy Shia city of Kerbala, but hospital and police sources said some civilians were among the dead. The clashes broke out at about dawn when US Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers entered Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) southwest of Baghdad, in search of a Mehdi Army commander accused of heading an assassination cell. The Mehdi Army is the feared militia of anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that the US military says is fuelling Iraq's cycle of sectarian violence. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.27.07 FBI chief disputes Gonzales on spying
July 27 - FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday contradicted the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration. Mueller's testimony appears to mark the first public confirmation from a Bush administration official that the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program was at issue in an unusual nighttime visit by Gonzales to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who was under sedation and recovering from surgery.
07.26.07 More than 50 Taliban killed in Afghan south - US
KABUL (Reuters) July 26 - US-led troops killed more than 50 insurgents in a battle in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, the US military said on Thursday. There were no casualties among coalition troops in the 12-hour battle with Taliban militants which finished early on Thursday, it said in a statement. No civilian injuries were reported.
The Taliban could not be reached for comment and because of the remoteness of the region there was no independent verification of the report. More than 160 insurgents have been killed in Helmand's Musa Qala district since Sunday, the military said. [>thestar.com.my ;See more details, khaleejtimes.com, July 26, "Sixty Taleban killed in fierce Afghan clashes."]
07.26.07 India confirms bird flu outbreak is H5N1 strain
NEW DELHI (Reuters) July 26 - India confirmed on Thursday that the latest outbreak of bird flu in poultry in the remote northeast was the H5N1 strain, the first case reported in the populous Asian nation in a year. Government workers plan to slaughter about 150,000 poultry in a 5-km (3-mile) radius around the affected farm in Manipur state, which lies on the border with Myanmar. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.26.07 IAF kills 3 top Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza strike
July 26 - Three Islamic Jihad militants, including the local head of the group's military wing, were killed in an Israel Air Force airstrike targeting a car south of Gaza City on Thursday, the organization said. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the airstrike. Witnesses said the men were travelling in a jeep when it was hit by a missile. Shortly after the IAF attack, the IDF also targeted a group of Hamas militants in northern Gaza in an area from which rockets are fired at Israel. Casualties were reported. Islamic Jihad said three of its senior commanders were killed in the IAF attack, including Omar al-Khatib, who had survived an Israeli air strike on Tuesday. [More>>haaretz.com ; See also aljazeera.net, July 26, "Israel kills Islamic Jihad leader."]
07.26.07 Democrats urge perjury probe of Gonzales
WASHINGTON (AP) July 26 - Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration. "It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement.
07.26.07 Insurgents kill 10 Iraqi soldiers, police
BAGHDAD, July 26 - Insurgents killed 10 members of Iraq's fledgling security forces Thursday, as US-led troops launched raids aimed at bringing the country's tenacious insurgency to heel. In the first attack, five Iraqi policemen were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle while they were patrolling the deadly roads south of Baghdad, according to security and medical officials.
07.25.07 Taleban releases eight S. Koreans, 1 killed
SEOUL (AFP) July 25 - Eight of 23 South Korean hostages held by the Taleban in Afghanistan were released late Wednesday, Yonhap news agency said, quoting an unidentified government official in Seoul. A presidential spokesman contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm the report. The hostages were to be moved to a safe zone and then flown back to South Korea after a medical check-up, Yonhap said. It later quoted a source as saying they were being taken to a US military base in Ghazni province.
The Afghan government meanwhile confirmed that the Taleban had killed one of their Korean captives Wednesday. "I can confirm that one of the hostages has been killed by the Taleban," Waheedullah Mujadadi, the head of the Afghan delegation negotiating the release of the Korean aid workers, told AFP. Taleban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi had earlier claimed that the militants had killed one of the hostages. He later set a "final deadline" of 2030 GMT Wednesday for their demands for the release of eight jailed Taleban fighters to be met, threatening to kill more hostages. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.25.07 Deadly rocket fire hits Pakistan
July 25 - Four rockets fired into a city in northwestern Pakistan have killed at least nine people and wounded 35, police say. The attack before dawn on Wednesday comes amid an escalating confrontation between Islamists and the US-backed government. The rockets hit two houses, a mosque and a shop in Bannu, a city in North West Frontier Province, at about 2am (21:00 GMT on Tuesday), said Khwaja Mohammed, a city police official. Mohammed said five police officers were among the 35 wounded. [More>>aljazeera.net]
07.25.07 Bombings mar soccer celebrations in Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) July 25 - Two suicide car bombings struck soccer fans in Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday, killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 100, officials said. The victims were among the thousands of revelers who took to the streets of the capital after the country's national soccer team beat South Korea to reach the tournament's final against Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The first attack took place about 6:30 p.m. when a bomber exploded in a crowd of people cheering near a well-known ice cream parlor in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Mansour, according to police and hospital officials. At least 11 people were killed and more than 60 wounded, the officials said. [More>>nytimes.com]
07.25.07 House panel votes for contempt charges in firings case
July 25 - The House Judiciary Committee voted today to issue contempt citations for two of President Bush's most trusted aides, taking its most dramatic step yet towards a constitutional showdown with the White House over the Justice Department's dismissal of nine US attorneys. The panel voted 22-17, along party lines, to issue citations to Joshua B. Bolten, White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, former White House counsel. Both refused to comply with committee subpoenas after Bush declared that documents and testimony related to the prosecutor firings were protected by executive privilege.
07.25.07 German journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan
KABUL, July 25 - Armed men kidnapped a German journalist in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, a local official said Wednesday. Unknown armed men abducted a German journalist and his driver in Sangar village of Watapor district on Tuesday evening, a spokesman of provincial governor Shah Hussain Mangal told Xinhua. He blamed anti-government militants for the kidnapping, but did not point finger at any particular group.
07.25.07 UN: Peacekeeper killed in south Lebanon cluster bomb explosion
July 25 - A United Nations peacekeeper from France was killed Wednesday in an explosion of ordnance leftover from last summer's Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas, a UN official said. The incident occurred at 12:40 P.M. as a demining team from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was clearing unexploded shells between the villages of Shama and Tayrharfa, near the town of Naqoura close to the Lebanese border with Israel. One UN peacekeeper died when the leftover ordnance exploded, said Yasmina Bouziane, a UNIFIL spokeswoman.
07.24.07 HIV medics released by Libya after EU deal
SOFIA (Reuters) July 24 - Six foreign medics convicted of infecting Libyan children with HIV arrived in Sofia on Tuesday after being freed by Libya under a deal with the European Union. Their release after eight years in captivity ends what Libya's critics called a human rights scandal and lifts a barrier to attempts by the long-isolated north African state to complete a process of normalizing ties with the outside world.
"I don't know what to say, I've been living for this moment," 54-year-old nurse Snezhana Dimitrova said as the nurses and their families cried and hugged each other at the airport. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov pardoned the six medics soon after their arrival on a French jet. The medics said they were innocent and had been tortured to confess.
A Libyan close to the negotiations said the five Bulgarians and a Palestinian who recently took Bulgarian citizenship were released under an agreement with the EU on medical aid and political ties. "There was agreement on equipping the hospital in Benghazi and treatment for the children ... All the political matters have been met," the Libyan contacted by telephone from Algiers said. [More>>thestar.com.my]
07.24.07 'Muslims can choose own religion'
CAIRO, July 24 - Egypt's official religious advisor has ruled that Muslims are free to change their faith as it is a matter between an individual and God, in a move which could have far-reaching implications for the country's Christians. "The essential question before us is can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum picked up by the Egyptian press.
07.24.07 US moves to clamp down on groups assisting Hezbollah
(AP) July 24 - The Bush administration took action Tuesday against an Iran-based foundation, including its US branch, for allegedly providing support to Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group that fought Israel in last summer's Second Lebanon War. The Treasury Department's action covers the Martyrs Foundation and Goodwill Charitable Organization of Dearborn, Michigan, which the government identified as a fund-raising office for the foundation. "We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. [More>>haaretz.com]
07.24.07 US seen in Iraq until at least '09
BAGHDAD, July 24 - While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years. The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. “Sustainable security” is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document. [More>>nytimes.com ; See related story, abcnews.go.com, July 24, "Digging in: Bush insists Iraqi Al Qaeda tied to Bin Laden" : President Bush on Tuesday lashed out at critics who say that al-Qaeda's operation in Iraq is distinct from terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. "The merger between al-Qaeda and its Iraqi affiliate is an alliance of killers and that is why the finest military in the world is on their trail," Bush said. Citing security details he declassified for his speech, Bush described al-Qaeda's burgeoning operation in Iraq as a direct threat to the United States. Bush accused critics in Congress of misleading the American public by suggesting otherwise...
07.24.07 Heatwave killed 500 in Hugary last week: official
BUDAPEST, July 24 - The heatwave in central and southern Europe killed an estimated 500 people in Hungary last week, the country's chief medical officer announced Tuesday. Ferenc Falus said that during the week from July 15 to July 22 the heat in central Hungary "contributed to the early death of 230 people, which nationally means about 500 deaths. The announcement of hundreds of deaths comes as heavy rain and extreme temperatures continue to batter Europe.
Britain was experiencing its worst flooding in living memory, while across the continent in the Balkans people were warned to stay indoors to avoid searing temperatures with deaths reported in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, and Romania. Temperatures in the region were recorded at 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and above, with Greece expecting a high of 45 Celsius on Tuesday and Italy just behind at 44 Celsius, hours after Rome recorded one of its warmest nights ever on Monday at 27.1 degrees.
Bulgaria has also experienced its hottest temperatures since records began with the mercury shooting above 45 degrees Celsius in parts of the country, and more than 860 people reportedly fainting in the streets in Romania. [>turkishpress.com ; See related story, independent.co.uk, July 24, " A 21st century catastrophe" : Flood-ravaged Britain is suffering from a wholly new type of civil emergency, it is clear today: a disaster caused by 21st-century weather...Most remarkable of all is the fact that the astonishing picture the nation is now witnessing - whole towns cut off, gigantic areas underwater, mass evacuations, infrastructure paralysed and grotesquely swollen rivers, from the Severn and the Thames downwards not even at their peaks yet - has all been caused by a single day's rainfall. A month's worth and more in an hour. It is obvious that the Government and the civil powers, from Gordon Brown down to the emergency services, are struggling to cope, not only with the sheer physical scale of the disaster itself, but with the very concept of it. It is entirely unfamiliar. It is new. Yet it is exactly what has been forecast for the past decade and more.
07.24.07 Taliban leader ends life to avoid arrest
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) July 24 - A Pakistani Taliban leader blew himself up to avoid arrest by government forces near the Afghan border on Tuesday, three years after his release from US detention in Guantanamo Bay, officials said. Abdullah Mehsud, 31, spent over 2 years in Guantanamo. Shortly after his release in March 2004, Mehsud shot to prominence by kidnapping two Chinese engineers working in South Waziristan, a region known as a hotbed of support for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
"He was killed in a house in Zhob," Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said, referring to a district of southwest Baluchistan province neighboring Waziristan. A counter-terrorism squad acting on a tip-off raided the house belonging to a senior official from the pro-Taliban Islamist party of Fazal-ur-Rehman, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. "We asked them to surrender but they opened fire," Mira Jan, the chief administrator for Zhob, said. "The shooting lasted for about half an hour and then we heard a blast from inside the house." [More>>expessindia.com ; See related story, metimes.com, July 24, "Dozens dead as Afghans secure key road." KABUL - Afghan security forces reopened a key highway after intense fighting with Taliban rebels, as violence around the country left nearly 50 people dead, including six NATO soldiers, officials said Tuesday. The militants, leading a growing insurgency since they were toppled from power by a US invasion after the 9/11 attacks, also threatened to kill 23 South Korean hostages by sundown Tuesday and said that a German captive was very sick...]
07.23.07 Wave of Baghdad car bombings kills 17
BAGHDAD (Reuters) July 23 - At least 17 people were killed and dozens more wounded by a wave of car bombings in central Baghdad on Monday, most of them in a predominantly Shi'ite district, police and witnesses said. The bombings came as Iraq's deeply divided government prepared to host a second round of rare talks between arch rivals Iran and the United States in the capital on Tuesday to discuss Iraqi security.
Three of four separate car bombings tore through Baghdad's Karrada district on the eastern side of the Tigris River, two of them exploding almost simultaneously near a government office and a busy market area about 500 metres away. One went off near a Karrada office which issues identity cards to Iraqis. Police said that bomb appeared to target a passing police patrol and that three police officers were among six people killed. Twenty more people were hurt.
...Four more people were killed and another 18 wounded in the almost simultaneous blast nearby in an area close to one of the main bridges leading across the Tigris river to the heavily fortified Green Zone. Less than an hour later another car bomb, again apparently targeting a passing police patrol, detonated in Karrada's al-Wathiq square, killing three people. Two policemen were among the dead. Four more people died soon after when a car bomb exploded at lunchtime outside Seerwan, Baghdad's most popular kebab restaurant, across the Tigris next to the Green Zone. [Full story>>thestar.com.my]
07.23.07 Qaeda faces 'ideological split'
NEW YORK, July 23 - With Osama bin Laden keeping a low profile, the al-Qaeda number two Ayman Al-Zawahiri has moved aggressively to take operational control of the group which has provoked a potentially serious "ideological split" within the terror outfit, media reports said. In a revelation, the Newsweek magazine claims in its upcoming issue that the recent suicide attacks in Pakistan following storming of Lal Masjid by the army to flush out militants were ordered by Zawahari.
After years in which Zawahiri seemed constantly on the run, his alleged orchestration of last week's attacks would be further evidence that Qaeda and Taliban forces are newly empowered and have consolidated control of a safe haven along the Pakistani border, it said. The magazine, which interviewed Pakistani and Talibani officials recently, said the anti-Zawahiri faction in al-Qaeda fears his actions may be jeopardizing that safe haven. [More>>expressindia.com;
07.23.07 50 Taliban killed in southern Afghan battle
KABUL, July 23 - US and Afghan forces have killed more than 50 suspected Taliban rebels during a two-day battle in southern Afghanistan, according to a statement from the US military issued on Monday. The Americans say they routed a large number of Taliban fighters during the clashes in Helmand province. The insurgents attempted to shoot down a US warplane during the battle and also tried to attack soldiers with a suicide car bomb. [>thenews.com.pk]
07.23.07 UK's Brown won't rule out military action in Iran
LONDON (Reuters) July 23 - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran, but believed a policy of sanctions could still persuade Teheran to drop its disputed nuclear programme. "I firmly believe that the sanctions policy that we are pursuing will work, but I’m not one who's going forward to say that we rule out any particular form of action," Brown told a news conference, when asked if he would rule out a military strike against Iran. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.23.07 Senior defense official: Report on Syria-Iran arms deal is false
July 23 - A senior defense official told Haaretz Monday that the report published Sunday in the London-based daily Al-Shark al-Awsat regarding a $1 billion arms deal between Syria and Iran is false. According to the official, the main weapons supplier for Syria is Russia, and not Iran.
07.23.07 Pakistani forces kill 35 militants in Waziristan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) July 23 - Pakistan's armed forces killed at least 35 militants in North Waziristan on Monday, two days after President Bush said he was "troubled" by reports al Qaeda was gaining strength in Pakistani tribal areas. The deaths, in fighting that was still under way, brought the number of militants killed since Saturday night to 54. Military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said the latest clashes centred on the town of Mir Ali, where heavy exchanges of fire broke out after militants fired rockets at an army checkpoint overnight. [More>>cnn.com]
07.23.07 Pakistan says any strike on its territory to hunt Al Qaeda "unacceptable'
ISLAMABAD, July 23 - Pakistan on Monday said it will not allow any attack by the United States on its tribal areas in a hunt for Al Qaeda, saying any counter-terrorism measure will be taken by its own security forces. "We have stated in the clearest terms that any attack inside our territory would be unacceptable," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters at the weekly news briefing. She was commenting on the statements by the US National Intelligence Estimate, claiming presence of Al-Qaeda safe haven in Pakistan's tribal belt along the border with Afghanistan and the possibility of US strikes in these areas.
07.23.07 Democratic lawmaker wants Senate to censure Bush over Iraq war
WASHINGTON, July 22 - A US Democratic senator said on Sunday that he was planning to introduce legislation to censure President George W. Bush over his handling of the Iraq war. "I think we need to do something serious in terms of accountability. And that's why I will be shortly introducing a censure resolution of the president and the administration," Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
07.23.07 Venezuela to expel foreign critics
July 23 - Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, has said foreigners who publicly criticise him or his government while visiting Venezuela will be expelled from the country. Chavez ordered officials to closely monitor statements made by international figures during their visits to Venezuela - and deport any outspoken critics. Speaking during his weekly Sunday television and radio programme, Chavez asked: "How long are we going to allow a person - from any country in the world - to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?" [More>>aljazeera.net]
07.23.07 Thousands cut off in Britain's worst floods
July 23 - The floods which have devastated central and western England in the past four days are the worst in modern times, the Environment Agency has confirmed - and the waters are still rising. The swollen rivers Severn and Thames are not expected to reach their peak for a further 24 hours, although they have already put large swaths of town and countryside under water.
"We have not seen flood levels of this magnitude before," said Anthony Perry, an Environment Agency spokesman. "This is an extreme flood event. The 1947 event on the Severn has always been the benchmark, and this has exceeded it." Further rain is forecast for the flood-affected areas on Wednesday and later in the week. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See related story, nytimes.com, July 23, "Flooding in Britain, Texas and China."]
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