US air strike kills four in Falluja
Korea bans online footage of hostage execution
Annan condemns hostage killing
Russian raid: 5 gunmen hunted down
USA expects close Indian cooperation
administration ‘giving Pak a pass on N-proliferation’
Clinton book lacks salacious details
US air strike kills four in Falluja
Falluja (Iraq), June 23
But witnesses and a hospital official said yesterday the strike hit a garage, killing four civilian guards and wounding six other people in Iraq’s most rebellious town.
Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the US military in Iraq, said in a statement that the strike was based on ‘’multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence’’.
‘’Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will attack them,’’ he said.
Witnesses said the air strike hit a car and truck garage. Iraqi police and US troops sealed off roads leading to the scene of the attack, the witnesses said.
The USA believes Zarqawi, accused of leading a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and of decapitating a US hostage last month, has played a significant role in the violence gripping Iraq.
The attack on the al-Jubail area of Falluja came after a US air strike on a nearby building in the town that killed 22 people on Saturday.
The US military said that building was a safe house for fighters loyal to Jordanian-born Zarqawi, whom they describe as the top Al-Qaida operative in Iraq.
Iraqis and local security officials said members of an extended family were killed and the house was not linked to Zarqawi. Saturday’s raid shattered a lull in Falluja and fuelled tensions before the formal end of Iraq’s US-led occupation on June 30.
Falluja has been quieter since the truce but there are no signs that the US military has achieved its goals of rooting out guerrillas and what they say are foreign fighters operating in the town 50 km west of Baghdad.
South Korea bans online footage of hostage execution
Seoul, June 23
A video of the blindfolded hostage kneeling before his masked captors prior to his execution was aired overnight by the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera TV station. The network said the tape also showed the beheading, that it decided not to broadcast that part.
South Korea’s Information and Telecommunication Ministry will ban local Internet portals from carrying the execution images and said it would monitor the Internet to stem their distribution, a ministry official said today on condition of anonymity.
The government plans to invoke regulations banning the spread of “cruel content” over the Internet, the official said. When such content is found, the ministry can ask the police to launch a formal investigation into the portal carrying it, which could lead to its closure. Other details of the new policy will be announced later, the official said.
The captors killed Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old South Korean working for a supply company in Iraq, after Seoul refused to meet their demand to cancel its deployment of 3,000 troops to the war-torn nation. In a separate video released by the captors on Sunday, Kim had pleaded with his government to end its involvement in Iraq, screaming “I don’t want to die.”
Meanwhile in Busan, the distraught parents of the hostage beheaded in Iraq today accused the South Korean government of betrayal for failing to prevent his grisly execution.
The parents of Kim Sun-Il, overcome by grief, shed bitter tears for their only son, who was kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants demanding all South Korean troops be removed from Iraq.
“Bring my son back to life, bring my son back to life,” wailed the mother of Kim, a translator whose decapitated body was found yesterday by the US military dumped on the road between Baghdad and Fallujah.
Shin Young-Ja, 63, hugged her daughter and stared through her tears at a portrait of Kim flanked by candles laid out on a small table serving as a makeshift altar in their modest home in the southern port of Busan. But mixed with sorrow, the couple battled with feelings of betrayal by a government which pledged to do its best to free Kim and ultimately failed.
— AP, AFP
behead man, crush legs of 8 Kathmandu, June 23 Maoists decapitated Kailash Dhobi, who they accused of working with security forces, and left his headless body yesterday at a public square in Labani in the southwestern district of Kapilbastu, a police official said. In the western district of Achham, rebels yesterday forced eight peasants to lie on logs as their legs were broken with heavy rocks for ignoring Maoist warnings not to plough the fields of upper-class landowners, the police said. The Maoists, who control much of the countryside, routinely target Nepalese suspected of supporting the “old order” represented by the Kathmandu-based government. Separately, the police said armed rebels yesterday snatched 140 employees of a cement factory from the eastern district of Udaypur and took them to an unknown location. The rebels generally release abductees within days after trying to indoctrinate them with the ideals of the Maoists, who claim to be fighting on the behalf of landless peasants.
Kathmandu, June 23
Maoists decapitated Kailash Dhobi, who they accused of working with security forces, and left his headless body yesterday at a public square in Labani in the southwestern district of Kapilbastu, a police official said.
In the western district of Achham, rebels yesterday forced eight peasants to lie on logs as their legs were broken with heavy rocks for ignoring Maoist warnings not to plough the fields of upper-class landowners, the police said.
The Maoists, who control much of the countryside, routinely target Nepalese suspected of supporting the “old order” represented by the Kathmandu-based government.
Separately, the police said armed rebels yesterday snatched 140 employees of a cement factory from the eastern district of Udaypur and took them to an unknown location.
The rebels generally release abductees within days after trying to indoctrinate them with the ideals of the Maoists, who claim to be fighting on the behalf of landless peasants.
Russian raid: 5 gunmen hunted down
Moscow, June 23
Army and police units searched the border area by Chechnya for members of a 200 to 300-man force that raided the city of Nazran and three villages early Tuesday, inflicting heavy casualties and causing extensive damage.
Five militants were reported captured and missile strikes were mounted on forests where others were thought to be hiding.
Amid confused casualty reports, Republican government officials told Russian news agencies that as many as 92 persons, including 25 civilians, were killed in the fighting early Tuesday and 120 were wounded.
The raiders targeted sites, including the Republic’s interior ministry, a police station and a border guard command post.
Gunmen disguised as the Russian police also systematically killed officials and members of the security forces. Ingushetia’s Interior Minister Abukar Kostoyev, his deputy and the Nazran district prosecutor were among the dead.
USA expects close Indian cooperation
Washington, June 23
“The effect of elections in India on the US-India relationship is that it is not going to change,” US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca said yesterday.
“We have certainly had very, very positive comments on the part of almost all the new leaders in India that they want to continue this relationship, that they want to continue to move it forward as fast as it was moving before. And we are encouraged by that and we hope that that will continue like that,” Rocca said.
She was speaking at a hearing on South Asia by a subcommittee of the International Relations Committee.
“We are continuing cooperation on regional and bilateral issues. External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh visited Washington recently and had excellent meetings with Secretary Powell,” she said in a prepared statement.
“Our bilateral Defence Policy Group met three weeks ago in New Delhi, and joint exercises and military exchanges continue to increase our Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, an initiative designed to deepen the US-India relationship, and this week Bangalore is hosting the US-India Space Conference.”
Elaborating on close cooperation between the two countries in various fields, Rocca said “the United States and India share a fundamental commitment to democracy. We hope to work more closely together to promote democracy, especially in problematic countries like Burma.”
On the non-proliferation issue, Rocca said “we are focused on preventing actions that would undermine the global non-proliferation regime and regional stability. Thus we are working to prevent an open ended nuclear arms race in the region, discourage nuclear testing, and prevent onward proliferation to other countries.”
She said the USA’s’ actions with both India and Pakistan were consistent with the obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and with the Nuclear Suppliers guidelines.
“We are working with both to strengthen non-proliferation export controls. In Pakistan, the government has just introduced a bill into Parliament that, if enacted, would significantly strengthen Pakistan’s existing export control regime. This is important especially in the wake of the A Q Khan case,” she said.
administration ‘giving Pak
The Bush administration is making “a very bad bargain” with Pakistan, a U.S. Congressman warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Congressman Gary L. Ackerman, New York Democrat and a former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said that in exchange for “perceived cooperation on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the administration is giving Pakistan a pass on nuclear proliferation issues.”
“To my knowledge, neither we nor the IAEA have had direct access to A.Q. Khan or any of his associates,” Mr. Ackerman said referring to the disgraced father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.
Despite Pakistan’s claims to the contrary “and our apparent acquiescence,” Mr. Ackerman said the A.Q. Khan incident was not an internal Pakistani matter. “Once Pakistan decided to sell its wares internationally, it became a matter for the international community and for us.” “In Pakistan, we are hitching our wagon to a very questionable horse,” he asserted.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pakistan, along with Saudi Arabia, had helped set the stage for the September 11 attacks on the USA by cutting deals with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden that allowed his Al-Qaeda network to flourish. The report was attributed to several senior members of the September 11 commission and U.S. counter-terrorism officials.
“The Bush administration would have us believe that General Musharraf is the pied piper of ‘enlightened moderation,’ “Mr Acker-man said, adding he believed that the administration was ignoring the law by failing to make a determination on the application of sanctions against Pakistan for the transfer of nuclear weapons designs and related technologies to terrorist states.
Earlier this month, the Bush administration formalised Pakistan’s status as a major Non-Nato Ally, seen here in Washington as a reward for Pakistan’s perceived assistance in the war on terror.
In her testimony, assistant secretary of state for South Asian Affairs, Christina B. Rocca, told the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Committee on International Relations that Pakistan continues “as a major ally in the war on terror.”
“Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives continue to be captured there, and the government has recently intensified its operations around the country and near the western border,” she said.
Commenting on the fallout of Dr. A.Q. Khan’s nuclear blackmarket, Ms Rocca said the administration was working with both India and Pakistan to strengthen non-proliferation export controls. In Pakistan, the government recently introduced a bill in Parliament that would, if passed, “significantly strengthen” Pakistan’s existing export control regime.
“This is important, especially in the wake of A.Q. Khan case. The public exposure of A.Q. Khan’s activities and investigations by various governments has disrupted his black market proliferation network. It’s now in the process of being dismantled, and Pakistan is taking these investigations seriously,” Ms. Rocca said.
Welcoming the “recent detente” between India and Pakistan, she said the Bush administration was not mediating in the dispute, but “showing support for both nations.”
“The prospects of resolution, I think — I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t really predict what will happen, but certainly it appears that both governments are entering the current composite dialogue with a very positive frame of mind,” Ms. Rocca told lawmakers.
Commenting on the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in China, she said: “They are certainly saying things which have not been said in the last three years... there are probably going to be bumps in the road, but at the moment, things are looking very bright.”
Clinton book lacks salacious details
New York, June 23
Fourth-fifths of the way into his memoir “My Life,” released yesterday by Alfred A. Knopf, the former president recalls his infamous affair with the White House intern.
Clinton writes that in 1995: “I’d had an inappropriate encounter with Monica Lewinsky and would do so again on other occasions between November and April, when she left the White House for the Pentagon.’’
In all, the book’s index cites just 16 pages where Lewinsky is mentioned — none shedding light on what drove Clinton to the affair or the details of the liaison itself, instead dwelling on his battle with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and repairing his relationship with his wife and daughter.
For most readers, the book is too detailed on policy issues and not detailed enough on the impact his sexual indiscretions had on his personal life, several experts said.
Robert Thompson, popular culture professor at Syracuse University, said the “big bombshell’’ of the Lewinsky saga would be the No. 1 reason Americans buy the book, which hit bookstores yesterday in a 1.5 million first printing.
Those readers will look first at the index, jump straight to the first Lewinsky reference and feel let down, Thompson said of the scant reference to the intern in the book.
“Next to Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ this may be the most purchased but unread book to come along in a long time,’’ Thompson said. “Millions and millions of people will buy this Bill Clinton book, but a significantly smaller number of them will actually read it from start to finish.’’
And if reviews in the coming days echo an early notice in The New York Times, which called the memoir “sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull,’’ few readers will ever get far enough to be disappointed, they said. — Reuters
NEW YORK: Former US President Bill Clinton has described the Taj Mahal as “perhaps the world’s most beautiful structure” and he was so mesmerised by it that he did not want to leave, he said in his memoirs “My Life” released on Tuesday. Mr Clinton visited the Taj along with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea during his tour to India in March, 2000.
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