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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Iraqi prison abuse trial put on hold
Fort Bragg, August 8
A US military court temporarily halted a hearing to decide if Lynndie England, the soldier photographed holding a naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash, should stand trial for abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison.

UK opens probe into deaths of 48 Iraqis
London, August 8
Britain’s military police have opened investigations into the suspicious deaths of 48 Iraqis in incidents involving British troops since May last year, according to a media report.

Two Iraqis killed in bombings
Kirkuk, August 8
A seven-year-old Iraqi child was killed and three others injured when they were caught in a roadside bombing today in the northern city of Kirkuk, while an Iraqi national guardsmen was killed and another injured in a similar attack north-east of Baghdad.

Militants claim to have kidnapped Iranian diplomat
Baghdad, August 8
Militants in Iraq claimed today, they, had taken a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station. The video showed a bearded man identified as Faridoun Jihani speaking to the camera, though his voice was not audible.

Suicide bomber held in UK
London, August 8
Documents found inside a flat raided by the police during an anti-terrorist operation last week showed that two of the occupants had been trained by extremist Palestinian groups even as the police continued to question the 11 men of the Asian origin held during the raids, a media report said today.

Men from Thailand’s Sikh community march in a procession in Bangkok on Sunday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib
Men from Thailand’s Sikh community march in a procession in Bangkok on Sunday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib. — AP\PTI




An Iraqi Shi'ite militiaman takes aim at a US Apache helicopter flying above a cemetery in the Holy city of Najaf on Sunday
An Iraqi Shi'ite militiaman takes aim at a US Apache helicopter flying above a cemetery in the Holy city of Najaf on Sunday. Iraq's interim Prime Minister on Sunday ordered Shi'ite fighters loyal to a radical cleric to leave Najaf but the militiamen were digging in and the death toll from days of clashes mounted.
— Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

 


Attacks on Pervez, Aziz: Al-Qaida man held
Islamabad, August 8
A senior Al-Qaida operative, linked to assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz, has been arrested in the UAE and handed over to Pakistan, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said today.

Bill to limit aid to Pak tabled in Congress
Washington, August 8
A Bill has been introduced in the Congress which calls for limiting Washington’s aid to Pakistan unless the US President certifies that Islamabad has halted nuclear and missile proliferation activities and is cooperating in the probe on the nuclear
black-marketing network of A. Q. Khan.

Famine leaves 152 dead in Zimbabwe city
Harare, August 8
Famine has claimed the lives of 152 persons, mostly children, in the western Zimbabwe city of Bulawayo. The weekly independent Standard newspaper quoted from records of the Bulawayo city councils city Health Department records as saying that 29 persons had died of malnutrition in July.

Poor Nepalese trade kidneys for money
Shikharpur, August 8
Man Dhoj Tamang cuts a forlorn figure as he stands in front of his house in central Nepal, overlooking a valley full of lush green rice fields. The scenic beauty of the area hides an ugly reality symbolised by an eight inch scar near Tamang’s abdomen.


A Myanmar child walks near a billboard at a seminar in Bangkok on Sunday to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the beginning of democratic change in Myanmar A Myanmar child walks near a billboard at a seminar in Bangkok on Sunday to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the beginning of democratic change in Myanmar. Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed at a stadium in Yangon on August 8, 1988. — Reuters

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Iraqi prison abuse trial put on hold

Fort Bragg, August 8
A US military court temporarily halted a hearing to decide if Lynndie England, the soldier photographed holding a naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash, should stand trial for abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Lawyers for England yesterday renewed a request for top US Government and military officials, including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to be called to testify at the hearing into prisoner abuse that shocked the Arab world and harmed US efforts to halt a bloody insurgency in Iraq.

England, is charged with 19 counts of prisoner abuse, committing indecent acts and disobeying orders. She faces up to 38 years in prison if convicted.

England’s lawyers have asked the court to call more than 50 additional witnesses. The court has heard from 25 in the five days of hearings which started on Tuesday.

The four days of testimony provided the defence with new information as lawyers try to build a case that England was following orders and the US military chain of command was involved in abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The court heard tales of abuse of Iraqi prisoners from US Military Police and military intelligence officers who served at Abu Ghraib. It also heard sometimes contradictory evidence as to whether intelligence officers were involved in it, as the defence contends.

A military criminal investigator said England admitted during interrogation that she ‘’stepped on’’ Iraqi prisoners and said no one ordered her to do it, contradicting her public claims.

Prosecutors pursued a line of questioning that indicated they were trying to show the abuse was carried out by a small band of rogue soldiers, as President George W. Bush suggested. — Reuters
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UK opens probe into deaths of 48 Iraqis

London, August 8
Britain’s military police have opened investigations into the suspicious deaths of 48 Iraqis in incidents involving British troops since May last year, according to a media report.

After mounting allegations from lawyers and human rights groups that abuses were being ignored, the Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram ordered all military units, that have served in Iraq, to check their records and produce a full list of every incident where an Iraqi was killed, ‘The Independent on Sunday’ reported.

In his last official figure to MPs in June, Ingram had said that 74 cases of alleged abuse, accidental deaths such as fatalities in crashes, and unlawful killings had been investigated in Iraq. Of those, 37 involved suspicious deaths.

The investigations have been opened into the deaths of 48 Iraqis since May last year, a jump of nearly a third from the previously disclosed official figures, the paper said.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) also admitted on Friday that armed forces police has investigated, or is still looking into, a total of 94 cases of alleged deaths in custody, illegal shootings, injuries and suspected ill-treatment involving British troops.

The MoD’s search for unreported deaths, expected to take several months, is the latest in a series of concessions being made by the government over the armed forces’ rules and policies in Iraq.

According to the report, the MoD has quietly stripped regimental commanders in Iraq of their right to block police inquiries into suspicious deaths in February.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is under intense pressure from Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith to abolish the right of commanding officers to block prosecutions.

The report said the MoD is overhauling the use of “goodwill payments” to the families of dead civilians. This follows a series of controversies about low sums of money given in “ad hoc” compensation deals, including £ 390 payment to the parents of an eight-year-old girl fatally wounded by a British Army bullet.

In a further concession, ministers have also ordered the Royal Military Police to open an investigation into any death of an Iraqi, including the deaths of alleged insurgents killed in battles with troops. The MoD said this policy accounted for many, but not all, of the new cases under investigation.

The Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price said the latest figure was the highest number of deaths involving a British military peace-keeping operation or occupation for decades, and demanded an independent inquiry.

Claims that dozens of Iraqi deaths have gone unreported or were not independently probed are now a major cause of concern for human rights groups, becoming a key issue at last month’s High Court hearing into the conduct of British troops. — PTI

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Two Iraqis killed in bombings

Kirkuk, August 8
A seven-year-old Iraqi child was killed and three others injured when they were caught in a roadside bombing today in the northern city of Kirkuk, while an Iraqi national guardsmen was killed and another injured in a similar attack north-east of Baghdad.

The children, aged five to 10, were on their way to a playground when they accidentally stepped on a roadside bomb, said Col Sirhat Qadir of Iraqi police in the city. Meanwhile, the body of a prominent Kurdish businessman in Kirkuk was found stabbed to death in the predominantly Arab town of Al-Riad, west of the city, according to Lieutenant Col Imad al-Obeidi. In Baquba, an Iraqi national guardsmen died and another was injured late Saturday as security forces were attempting to defuse a roadside bomb on the road to the village of Kanaan south-east of the city.

In Baghdad, Iraq’s interim government reinstated the death penalty today for a limited range of crimes including murder, kidnapping and drug offences, an official said. — Agencies
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Militants claim to have kidnapped Iranian diplomat

Baghdad, August 8
Militants in Iraq claimed today, they, had taken a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station.

The video showed a bearded man identified as Faridoun Jihani speaking to the camera, though his voice was not audible.

The video also showed nine forms of his identification, as well as his passport and a business card identifying him as the “consul for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karbala,” a southern Iraqi city.

The kidnappers, who called themselves the “Islamic Army in Iraq,”’ accused Mr Jihani of provoking sectarian war in Iraq and they warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq’s affairs, according to Al-Arabiya.

The kidnappers did not appear to threaten Mr Jihani and made no demands, according to the report.

Mr Jihani would be the second senior diplomat taken hostage in Iraq in recent weeks. Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb, an Egyptian diplomat, was abducted on July 23 outside a mosque in Baghdad and freed unharmed on July 26. — AP
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Suicide bomber held in UK

London, August 8
Documents found inside a flat raided by the police during an anti-terrorist operation last week showed that two of the occupants had been trained by extremist Palestinian groups even as the police continued to question the 11 men of the Asian origin held during the raids, a media report said today.

Among the two was a would-be suicide bomber who had failed to get asylum in UK, The Sunday Times reported.

The documents were found in two briefcases that had been left by the police which searched the house in Willesden Green, northwest London.

Among the papers was a picture of a man dressed in military fatigues cradling an AK-47 rifle and letters written on notepaper headed Al-Quds Brigade, a West Asian terrorist group. A copy of a statement sent to the Home Office by a failed asylum seeker claiming he had trained as a suicide bomber with the radical Islamic group Hamas was also found.

The police refused to say why the documents had been left behind in their series of high-profile raids on Tuesday against suspected Al-Qaida terrorists at addresses across Britain.

A 27-year-old occupant of the flat had admitted to the Home Office that he had been trained to use weapons by a Palestinian militant group. But his asylum application was refused last July because the Home Office found his claims “implausible”. — PTI
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Attacks on Pervez, Aziz: Al-Qaida man held

Islamabad, August 8
A senior Al-Qaida operative, linked to assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz, has been arrested in the UAE and handed over to Pakistan, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said today.

Qari Saifullah Akhtar, has been described as the ‘operational head of Al-Qaida’.

He was caught in Dubai on Friday after he was tracked down by Pakistani intelligences officials.

They had acted on a tip off provided by the captured Al-Qaida militants in Pakistan, he said.

Akhtar was also a leader of the radical Islamic group Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami.

He was handed over to Pakistani security officials by Dubai for interrogation and detention following a request from Islamabad, Ahmed said.

“Yes, we can confirm that we have Qari Saifullah,” the Information Minister said, without specifying when he was handed over to Pakistan.

The security officials here would probe his alleged involvement in the twin-attack on Musharraf last December and recent suicide attack on Aziz.

They would also try to get an insight into the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

Pakistani officials believe that Akhtar knew about the hideouts of Bin Laden and Omar.

He was believed to be with both the fugitives in Afghanistan at the time of the US-led war against Taliban in 2001. He had later fled to Saudi Arabia and then to the United Arab Emirates.

Akhtar used to run one of Al-Qaida’s training camps in Afghanistan. — PTI
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Bill to limit aid to Pak tabled in Congress

Washington, August 8
A Bill has been introduced in the Congress which calls for limiting Washington’s aid to Pakistan unless the US President certifies that Islamabad has halted nuclear and missile proliferation activities and is cooperating in the probe on the nuclear black-marketing network of A. Q. Khan.

The Bill has been referred to the Congressional Committee.

It says that the President may not provide more than 75 per cent of the US assistance to Pakistan unless he can certify that Islamabad has halted any cooperation with any state in the development of nuclear or missile technology, material or equipment that is useful for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

It also wants the Administration to state that Islamabad is fully sharing with the USA all information relevant to the nuclear proliferation network.

However, in view of the strong support by President George W. Bush for Pakistan President Musharraf, the Bill may face some resistance. — PTI
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Famine leaves 152 dead in Zimbabwe city

Harare, August 8
Famine has claimed the lives of 152 persons, mostly children, in the western Zimbabwe city of Bulawayo.

The weekly independent Standard newspaper quoted from records of the Bulawayo city councils city Health Department records as saying that 29 persons had died of malnutrition in July.

It brings to 152 the number of famine-related deaths reported in Bulawayo this year. The latest deaths come after orders by President Robert Mugabes government to Western aid agencies to end famine relief operations.

Mugabes critics say they fear he plans to use food as a political weapon to force starving people to vote for his ruling ZANU (PF) party in parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year. — DPA
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Poor Nepalese trade kidneys for money

Shikharpur, August 8
Man Dhoj Tamang cuts a forlorn figure as he stands in front of his house in central Nepal, overlooking a valley full of lush green rice fields.

The scenic beauty of the area hides an ugly reality symbolised by an eight inch scar near Tamang’s abdomen.

The gaunt 42-year-old, who looks a decade older, sold a kidney in 2000 to raise money to pay off a family debt and buy a piece of land in the village of Shikharpur, 60 km east of Kathmandu.

Tamang, who is unemployed, received Nepali Rs 70,000 for his kidney, cleared his family’s debt and gave the remainder to a broker to buy his dream plot of land for farming. The broker disappeared with the money.

“I’m finished. I lost a kidney and I don’t have the land I paid for,” he said.

Tamang is not the only person to have sold a kidney in Nepal, one of the world’s 10 poorest countries.

There are 33 others in the village of some 3,000 residents who have sold their kidneys to either rich Nepalese or Indians who are ready to pay up to Nepali Rs 180,000 to brokers to buy a kidney for themselves or for their relatives.

In Nepal and more economically developed India — where demand for healthy kidneys is high and medical facilities are available for kidney transplants — it is illegal to sell or buy the organs.

The offence is punishable by fines and jail sentences of up to five years, although in Nepal one can legally donate a kidney to a relative who urgently needs the organ to save his or her life.

But with hundreds of people in the region in desperate need of kidney transplants, many choose the illegal route and deals are done in secrecy in both countries, with middlemen scouring villages looking for donors.

“There are no complaints in any court of law involving the sale of kidneys,” said a Nepalese official.

Poverty in Nepal — which drives thousands of young Nepalese to seek jobs in India as private guards, maids and army soldiers — also propels the kidney trade. Locals say one reason why so many people have sold their kidneys in Shikharpur is its high level of unemployment, backwardness. — Reuters
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BRIEFLY


A four-day-old American flamingo chick peeks out from its mother's feathers to feed at Washington's Smithsonian's National zoo
A four-day-old American flamingo chick peeks out from its mother's feathers to feed at Washington's Smithsonian's National zoo in this file photo taken on July 20, 2004. Flamingo parents, which share the responsibilities of raising their young, produce a liquid in their digestive system that nourishes the chicks. — AP/PTI

8 dead in Pak bus mishap
ISLAMABAD:
A passenger bus tumbled off a mountain highway in northern Pakistan on Sunday, leaving eight persons dead and 35 others injured, the police said. The bus fell into a stream in Kohistan, said an official at the police control room in Kohistan, about 160 km north from here. — AP

Bangladesh Opposition leader dead
DHAKA:
A member of the Bangladesh’s opposition party Awami League on Sunday succumbed to injuries he sustained in a bomb attack on a jeep in the north-eastern shrine city of Sylhet. Ibrahim Ali, (50), publicity secretary of the Sylhet chapter of the main opposition party, died at a hospital, a media report said. At least 40 persons were injured in the blast. — PTI

Bangladesh flood toll may reach 900
DHAKA:
The death toll in the floods that have blighted the lives of 35 million people in Bangladesh could be more than 900, the official BSS news agency said on Sunday amid fears of an epidemic of water-borne diseases. The official death toll rose to 691 on Saturday, BSS said, adding officials had yet to confirm reports of at least 200 more deaths. — AFP
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