SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Iraq minister escapes car bomb attack
Iraqi military personnel examine the debris after a car bomb exploded outside Iraqi National Guards barracks
Baghdad, July 17
A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle as a convoy carrying Iraq's justice minister drove past in Baghdad today, killing four people but not wounding the minister, police and U.S. troops at the scene said.

Iraqi military personnel examine the debris after a car bomb exploded outside Iraqi National Guards barracks, killing at least two guardsmen and wounding over 20 Iraqis, in Mahmudiya, 50-km south of Baghdad, on Saturday. — Reuters photo

More Iraq prisoner abuse cases, says US Senator
Washington, July 17
New cases of alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers have been uncovered, a top US Senator said, three months after US media broadcast photos of detainees being sexually humiliated at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

US writes off Pak debt
Islamabad, July 17
The US yesterday wrote-off nearly half-a-billion dollar debt owed by Pakistan under an agreement signed between the two countries, a day after Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited Islamabad to discuss, among other things Pakistan’s chances of sending troops to Iraq.

Pak protests against new US immigration measures
Islamabad, July 17
Pakistan has protested what it termed the ‘’virtual stripping’’ of its nationals by the immigration authorities at American airports as a “violation of human rights,” reports said today. In a recent memorandum, the US Department of Home Security asked officials at major airports to be extra vigilant against the travellers of Pakistani origin.

Officials of the US Forest Service watch flames burn through trees Officials of the US Forest Service watch flames burn through trees near Lake Hughes in the north-eastern part of Los Angeles county on Friday. The fire, which set off on Monday, has scorched more than 14,000 acres and caused hundreds of evacuations.
— Reuters


Clear Channel Communications made peace on Thursday with public interest group Project Billboard that sued the media giant for breaking a contract over posting this antiwar billboard in Times Square during the Republican National Convention
Clear Channel Communications made peace on Thursday with public interest group Project Billboard that sued the media giant for breaking a contract over posting this antiwar billboard in Times Square during the Republican National Convention. Clear Channel settled the suit by agreeing to give Project Billboard two different prime Times Square locations instead of just one. In return, the group will drop its plan for a bomb graphic and replace it with a dove image. — Project Billboard/Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

Yasser ArafatArafat revamps security, rejects PM’s resignation
Ramallah, July 17
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today agreed to consolidate his security forces into three branches, a key international demand for reform, a top Arafat aide said. An Egyptian plan specifically called for the streamlining of the services into three branches in Gaza and the West Bank.

Labour loses Leicester seat
London, July 17
Prime Minister Tony Blair suffered a fresh electoral setback yesterday when his governing Labour Party lost a parliamentary seat to an anti-war party and narrowly avoided defeat in another.

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Iraq minister escapes car bomb attack

Baghdad, July 17
A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle as a convoy carrying Iraq's justice minister drove past in Baghdad today, killing four people but not wounding the minister, police and U.S. troops at the scene said.

Another car bomb blast in Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad, killed two Iraqi National Guardsmen and wounded 25 people, the latest in a series of attacks targeting Iraq's security forces.

Witnesses said the Baghdad suicide bomber drove towards the convoy carrying Justice Minister Malik al-Hassan and then detonated his vehicle in a ball of flame.

''There was a blast alongside the convoy. A booby-trapped car came alongside and blew up,'' said Hussein Abed, a traffic policeman who raced to the scene after the blast.

Abdul Nasser Mohammed, an Iraqi bodyguard at the scene, said four people were killed in the explosion. He pointed at one destroyed car and said: ''Two were killed in this car and all we found was body parts.''

“What I want to highlight is that this is clearly a terrorist attack by people who do not want to see this country move forward,” U.S. Colonel Michael Formica of the 1st Cavalry Division said at the scene.

Hospital officials said at least eight people were wounded.

“We were working as painters near the ministry house when suddenly there was an explosion,” one of the wounded, Khalid Waleed, said as he lay in a hospital bed.

Insurgents have repeatedly targeted top officials. Earlier this week, a regional governor was killed when his convoy was ambushed. In May, a suicide car bomb attack killed Izzedin Salim, the president of the country's Governing Council.

A group linked to Jordanian born al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for both those attacks. — Reuters
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More Iraq prisoner abuse cases, says US Senator

Washington, July 17
New cases of alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers have been uncovered, a top US Senator said, three months after US media broadcast photos of detainees being sexually humiliated at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

“We’re still uncovering, as late as this morning, other incidents, other cases that will be promptly investigated by the Department of Defence,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner said on Thursday after his panel was briefed by Pentagon officials in a closed-door meeting.

Warner, a Virginia Republican, said there were possible violations of the Geneva Conventions and Defence Department’s rules and regulations on prisoners.

The Pentagon officials briefing the committee also showed the senators 24 confidential documents from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The papers are part of an ICRC report on prisoner treatment in Iraqi jails written before the scandal broke in April.

Warner has held three hearings on Abu Ghraib and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has testified before the committee. — AFP
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US writes off Pak debt

Islamabad, July 17
The US yesterday wrote-off nearly half-a-billion dollar debt owed by Pakistan under an agreement signed between the two countries, a day after Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited Islamabad to discuss, among other things Pakistan’s chances of sending troops to Iraq.

The agreement to write-off the 495.3 million dollar debt was signed here by US Ambassador to Pakistan Nancy Powell and Secretary of Pakistan Economic Division Waqar Masood Khan, taking the total debt cancellation during the past two years to one and a half billion dollars.

Mr Powell appreciated Pakistan’s economic policies initiated during the past five years and said the write-off marked a continuation of the US partnership with Pakistan.

“Our continued commitment to Pakistan is a vote of confidence in the economic stewardship of the Pakistani government and the intelligence, energy and resourcefulness of the Pakistani people,” he said.

Significantly, the second debt write-off followed Mr Armitage’s visit to Islamabad on Thursday during which he held talks with top Pakistani leadership. — PTI
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Pak protests against new US immigration measures

Islamabad, July 17
Pakistan has protested what it termed the ‘’virtual stripping’’ of its nationals by the immigration authorities at American airports as a “violation of human rights,” reports said today.

In a recent memorandum, the US Department of Home Security asked officials at major airports to be extra vigilant against the travellers of Pakistani origin.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri told the Senate yesterday that Pakistan had asked its war-on-terror ally to review body search procedures as it was sending wrong signals among its people.

He was forced to address the House after an Opposition Senator blasted the new US immigration measures as shameful and virtual stripping of Pakistani visitors, the report in Daily Dawn said.

The Minister said he even pointed it to US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who was in Pakistan on a day-long trip on Thursday that it was wrong and harmful even to American interests, particularly when the move was directed against a particular community.

Armitage reportedly expressed regret over the matter and promised to look into it.

Pakistan worked as a front-line state in the US-led war on terror and, despite an opposition to the American military action in Afghanistan, provided critical, logistic and intelligence support to help the US forces overthrow the Taliban regime. — DPA

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Arafat revamps security, rejects PM’s resignation

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie attends a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday. Qurie on Saturday submitted his resignation to President Yasser Arafat who rejected it, a cabinet minister said. — Reuters photo

Ramallah, July 17
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today agreed to consolidate his security forces into three branches, a key international demand for reform, a top Arafat aide said. An Egyptian plan specifically called for the streamlining of the services into three branches in Gaza and the West Bank.

Mr Arafat also replaced the national police chief, who was briefly abducted in a wave of kidnappings a day earlier, and named two new top officials in a shake-up of his security machine, an aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.

The Palestinian leader appointed his cousin Mousa Arafat al-Qidwe (64), as the new security chief for the Palestinian territories, which were plunged into chaos yesterday when police chief Ghazi Jabali and another senior security officer were seized by militants and later released.

Egypt and the quartet of international peacemakers the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, have been pressing Mr Arafat to bring rival security factions under unified control. More than a dozen security branches now operate in the areas, often fighting each other.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia submitted his resignation today, plunging the Palestinian government further into crisis, but Mr Yasser Arafat rejected it, a top official said.

The resignation came as Mr Qureia and Mr Arafat discussed a shake-up of security forces amid a rapidly deteriorating crisis in the Gaza Strip. Six persons, including the national police chief and four French charity workers, were briefly kidnapped in Gaza a day earlier. — AP, Reuters
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Labour loses Leicester seat

London, July 17
Prime Minister Tony Blair suffered a fresh electoral setback yesterday when his governing Labour Party lost a parliamentary seat to an anti-war party and narrowly avoided defeat in another.

The Liberal Democrats, who strongly opposed the war in Iraq, came first with 10,274 votes in Leicester, a city in Central England with a high Muslim population. Labour came second with 8,620 votes and the Conservative Party came third with 5,796 votes.

The result is a further blow for Blair, whose popularity has slumped since the Iraq war. Labour fared terribly in local council and European Parliament elections last month and some in the party question whether Blair, once their most-prized electoral asset, has become a liability. — AP
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BRIEFLY

5 month jail for Martha Stewart
Martha StewartNew York:
Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart was sentenced on Saturday to five months in prison and five months of house arrest, the lightest term allowed by law, for lying about a stock sale. Her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, drew the same term for conspiring with her. Speaking before the sentencing, Stewart made a brief plea for leniency to the US District Judge, who could have given the lifestyle guru 16 months behind bars.
— Reuters

Pak sells Benazir’s palace
Benazir BhuttoIslamabad: Pakistan Government claimed to have sold the ‘Surrey Palace’ in Britain, which allegedly belonged to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, for £ 4.3 million. The sale was effected by a liquidator of the Isle of Man Trust companies, created to disguise the true identity of the beneficial owners of the property, a government spokesman said in a statement. But, the building located in the English county, Surrey, was sold in an auction by the liquidator who was given the authority by the Pakistani government. But, a spokesman of Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party rejected the charge that the property was owned by her. — PTI

Shashank arrives in Pak
Shashank ISLAMABAD:
Indian Foreign Secretary Shashank arrived in Pakistan on Saturday to take part in a two-day meeting of SAARC Foreign Secretaries beginning here on Sunday, which will finalise the agenda for the ministerial conference to be attended by External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh from July 20. Shashank will also be involved in finalising the agenda for Mr Natwar Singh’s bilateral meetings with Pakistani leaders, including President Pervez Musharraf and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and other officials on the sidelines of the SAARC meetings. — PTI

Priest’s attempt to bury self foiled
Kuala Lumpur:
The Malaysian police prevented a Hindu priest from burying himself in a three-metre-deep hole in an obscure religious ritual, news reports said on Saturday. K. Maniam (44) had planned to bury himself in the hole for three days, but the police intervened on Friday, just minutes before he was about to begin the task near a Hindu temple in Malaysia’s northern Perak state. Maniam claimed the effort was meant to ‘’increase his devotional and healing power as well as strengthen his prayer for world peace,’’ the national news agency, Bernama, reported. — DPA
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