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21 Shias shot in Iraq
Baghdad, November 25
Gunmen killed 21 Shias as tit-for-tat violence raged across Iraq and Baghdad was under curfew for a second day today, forcing President Jalal Talabani to delay a trip to Tehran.

‘Litvinenko gave classified info to Israeli trader’
Jerusalem, November 25
Former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London from poisoning, had met Russia-born businessman Leonid Nevzlin in Israel and passed on classified information damaging to the current leadership, a media report said.

Radioactive traces found in Litvinenko’s hotel 
London, November 25
The death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning has rung alarm bells for the British government which has launched an investigation to know the source of the material whose traces have been found in a hotel and restaurant that he visited in Central London on November 1.

40 Taliban killed
Kabul, November 25
At least 40 Taliban insurgents were killed in an operation by the Afghan police in Uruzgan province of southern Afghanistan, an Interior Ministry official said today.









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21 Shias shot in Iraq

Baghdad, November 25
Gunmen killed 21 Shias as tit-for-tat violence raged across Iraq and Baghdad was under curfew for a second day today, forcing President Jalal Talabani to delay a trip to Tehran.

The police said gunmen late yesterday raided two homes in a mostly Shia village in strife-torn Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, dragged out 21 males and shot them execution style.

The bodies of the villagers, who came from two families in the village of Imam Mansour, 75 km north-east of Baghdad, were found early today.

The youngest victim was 12.

The police said the gunmen arrived in five cars and took the men to nearby fields and shot them at point-blank range.

Like Baghdad, the mixed Diyala province is torn by sectarian strife, largely taking the form of attacks by Al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents on Shia villagers.

The capital, the epicentre of the sectarian violence, remained under curfew for a second day today after the deaths of at least 300 persons since Thursday, when the politically sensitive district of Sadr City was hit by the deadliest string of bombings against Shia since the war began in 2003.

The airport was also closed, forcing Talabani to postpone his trip to Tehran where he had been expected to discuss the country's security situation with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Talabani said that he would make the trip when the airport reopened. His talks in Iran are expected to focus on engaging Baghdad's former foe in playing a greater role in helping curb the bloodshed in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in three simultaneous raids north of Baghdad, coalition forces killed 10 insurgents and an Iraqi civilian today, and destroyed a factory being used to make roadside bombs, the US military said.

Coalition forces discovered the factory and hidden caches of rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons and pipe bombs, and called in US aircraft to destroy them, the military said. Powerful roadside bombs are one of the most effective weapons insurgents use to kill and wound American soldiers.

During the fighting, soldiers killed 10 insurgents and wounded a pregnant woman and a teenage boy. — AP, AFP

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‘Litvinenko gave classified info to Israeli trader’

Jerusalem, November 25
Former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London from poisoning, had met Russia-born businessman Leonid Nevzlin in Israel and passed on classified information damaging to the current leadership, a media report said.

Nevzlin, former Chief Executive Officer of Russia's Yukos oil company and currently chairman of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, has alleged that Litvinenko's death may be tied to the information relating to the oil company contained in the documents, daily Ha'aretz reported.

The former Yukos company CEO has returned the documents over to the London Metropolitan Police, who are investigating the murder, the report said.

The Government of Russia has issued an arrest warrant against Nevzlin on charges of tax evasion, budget irregularities and in connection to the murder of the mayor of a Siberian town where Yukos was operating, the report said.

Nevzlin and his business partner Michael Hodrokovsky, who is incarcerated in a Russian prison, were large shareholders in Yukos, once one of the largest holding companies in Russia, as well as one of the largest oil companies in the world.

The company allegedly waged a political struggle against Russian President Vladimir Putin leading to the government opening a series of investigations against it, eventually resulting in its bankruptcy and the imprisonment of Hodrokovsky and Platon Levedev, an additional business partner in Yukos. — PTI

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Radioactive traces found in Litvinenko’s hotel 
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

London, November 25
The death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning has rung alarm bells for the British government which has launched an investigation to know the source of the material whose traces have been found in a hotel and restaurant that he visited in Central London on November 1.

The Cabinet’s Emergency Security Committee (Cobra) has met twice since yesterday when it became known that the 43-year-old former KGB spy, who had become a British citizen, died of large dose of alpha radiation in his body.

Security agencies discovered traces of the radioactive material in a London sushi bar and at Millennium Hotel, near the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, where Litvinenko met his contacts on November 1. Radioactive traces were also found at his home in Murswell Hill, North London.

Though the country’s Health Protection Agency has said the public was not in danger, it is taking urine samples of those who passed through the sushi bar in the past three weeks to rule out any possibility of radioactive contamination. The staff at the two London hospitals where he was treated will also be screened.

The bar and the hotel where he met his contacts has been sealed and his family has moved out of their Muswell Hill house.

Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office here met the Russian Ambassador to seek assistance from Moscow in getting information which could help Scotland Yard investigate into the “unexplained death.”

Livinenko’s father yesterday accused the Kremlin of murdering his son. The family released a statement from Litvinenko, written 48 hours before he died, blaming President Putin for his death. However, Russian officials questioned the motive and timing of the statement, wondering why the statement was not produced when Litvinenko was alive.

Medical experts had struggled for the past several days to know what had caused the poisoning. It was some hours before his death that the silent killer was identified as polonium-210. A postmortem will reveal the quantity of the radioactive material.

Experts said the “killing” involved those who had access to a nuclear installation as polonium-210 was not a material which could be acquired from medical waste.

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40 Taliban killed

Kabul, November 25
At least 40 Taliban insurgents were killed in an operation by the Afghan police in Uruzgan province of southern Afghanistan, an Interior Ministry official said today.

“The police carried out an operation in Deh Rawad district on Thursday, killing at least 40 Taliban fighters,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Uruzgan province has been a hotbed of Taliban insurgents, who have frequently clashed with Afghan and NATO-led forces. — Xinhua 

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