SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Philippine troops quit Iraq
A seven-year-old Iraqi boy kisses a Philippine soldier as he leaves the southern Iraqi city of Hilla, 120 km south of Baghdad, on MondayNo word on hostage
Manila, July 19
Philippine troops pulled out of Iraq today after the government gave in to militants holding a Filipino hostage, straining its alliance with Washington. There was no word on kidnapped truck driver Angelo de la Cruz, last seen in a video shown by Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera on Thursday.

A seven-year-old Iraqi boy kisses a Philippine soldier as he leaves the southern Iraqi city of Hilla, 120 km south of Baghdad, on Monday. — Reuters photo

Suicide bomber blows up truck, 10 killed
Baghdad, July 19
A suicide bomber blew up a fuel truck outside a Baghdad police station today, killing at least 10 persons, wounding 62 and destroying cars and buildings. At the scene of the blast, US Army Lieut-Col Bill Salter said between 10 and 15 persons had been killed in the attack, he said probably carried out by a suicide bomber.

India, Pak to give SAARC new direction
Islamabad, July 19
Setting aside their bilateral differences, India and Pakistan today joined hands in giving a new direction to the SAARC process as Islamabad acknowledged that its current engagement with New Delhi had helped reduce tension in the region in the overall interests of the seven-member regional grouping.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri greets his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh in Islamabad on Monday Index page: Natwar Singh in Pak for talks



Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri (right) greets his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh in Islamabad on Monday. Singh arrived in Pakistan on Monday to push forward a fledgling peace process. — Reuters photo



A Japanese woman smiles as she shows off her favourite fashion style in Tokyo's Shibuya district, popular among Japan's trendy youths, on Monday
A Japanese woman smiles as she shows off her favourite fashion style in Tokyo's Shibuya district, popular among Japan's trendy youths, on Monday. The crowded area is sometimes a showcase of people, ranging from businessmen in suits to tanktops and today's hippest teenage looks. — Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

 

Vladimir PutinPutin removes army chief
Moscow, July 19
In a major overhaul of Russia’s military top brass, President Vladimir Putin today appointed top arms control expert Gen Yuri Baluyevsky as the Chief of General Staff of the country’s armed forces after removing Gen Anatoly Kvashnin, who was at loggerheads with the Defence Ministry.

Korean talks called off
Seoul, July 19
Inter-Korean military talks were called off today after North Korea protested an incident in which the South Korean navy said it had fired warning shots at a North Korean vessel.

A boy runs through a field in the countryside of Jinzhai county A boy runs through a field in the countryside of Jinzhai county in China's central province of Anhui in this picture taken on July 13, 2004. The number of Chinese living in abject poverty rose by 800,000 last year, the first such increase in 25 years and since the start of economic reforms, said one of the top officials on poverty alleviation on Monday.
— Reuters

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Philippine troops quit Iraq
No word on hostage

Manila, July 19
Philippine troops pulled out of Iraq today after the government gave in to militants holding a Filipino hostage, straining its alliance with Washington.

There was no word on kidnapped truck driver Angelo de la Cruz, last seen in a video shown by Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera on Thursday in which he said he would be coming home.

The head of the contingent, Brigadier-General Jovito Palparan, arrived in Manila on a commercial flight from Kuwait ahead of 44 troops due to return this week.

The withdrawal meets the July 20 deadline — a month before the Philippine team’s mandate ran out — set by militants who abducted de la Cruz and had threatened to behead him.

“Before the end of the day, all members of the Philippine Humanitarian Contingent will be out of Iraq,” Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said in a statement.

She said 34 troops began the journey out of Iraq today, joining 10 who were already in Kuwait preparing to fly to Manila later this week. The 10 had been due to arrive in Manila today, but did not board their scheduled flight in the morning.

Six troops out of the 51-strong contingent are unaccounted for, but could have been drafted into the Baghdad Philippine Embassy’s security staff.

“I am happy to be back,” Palparan told reporters at the Manila international airport. “Our troops back there are all okay.”

Nearly two weeks after de la Cruz was abducted while transporting fuel into Iraq from Saudi Arabia, relatives in his Buenavista village, north of Manila, were optimistic he would be home soon.

“We just hope that the Iraqi militants will keep their promise of releasing Angelo since the humanitarian contingent has already pulled out,” said Beth, one of his sisters.

In the latest video tape, the 46-year-old father of eight wore a polo shirt and looked in good health. In previous tapes, he sat in front of gunmen and was dressed in an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn by other foreign hostages, some of them later beheaded.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s decision to withdraw has drawn criticism from the USA and other allies, who have said it sets a bad precedent for giving in to hostage-takers.

Analysts say the move is unlikely to derail Manila’s close alliance with Washington, although the relationship has been strained and it may result in a slowing down of US aid.

Left-wing groups had staged small but noisy protests calling for the withdrawal, and Arroyo faced broad pressure to secure de la Cruz’s release as he became a symbol of the 8 million Filipinos working abroad to support families back home.

“Had the president allowed de la Cruz to be beheaded, she would have sent the wrong signal,” columnist Neal H. Cruz wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
— Reuters
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Suicide bomber blows up truck, 10 killed

Baghdad, July 19
A suicide bomber blew up a fuel truck outside a Baghdad police station today, killing at least 10 persons, wounding 62 and destroying cars and buildings.

At the scene of the blast, US Army Lieut-Col Bill Salter said between 10 and 15 persons had been killed in the attack, he said probably carried out by a suicide bomber.

“We believe it was possibly a fuel-truck type vehicle,” Colonel Salter told reporters. Witnesses said they saw a fuel tanker racing towards the police station moments before the explosion.

Iraq’s Health Ministry said it has so far recorded nine dead and 62 wounded but expected the death toll to rise. It said bodies were still being brought to hospitals and boxes of remains had yet to be sifted through.

The bomb went off shortly after 8 a.m. as people were arriving at work. Car workshops across the road from the police station bore the brunt of the blast, witnesses said, and several persons working there were killed. — Reuters
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India, Pak to give SAARC new direction

Islamabad, July 19
Setting aside their bilateral differences, India and Pakistan today joined hands in giving a new direction to the SAARC process as Islamabad acknowledged that its current engagement with New Delhi had helped reduce tension in the region in the overall interests of the seven-member regional grouping.

The dialogue process between India and Pakistan had certainly had a positive impact on SAARC, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar told reporters after the two-day 30th meeting of the SAARC Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries.

“I agree with what Mr Khokhar has said,” Foreign Secretary Shashank told mediapersons a little later, setting the stage for the SAARC ministerial meeting, beginning here tomorrow.

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, who arrived here on a five-day visit to Pakistan, will represent India at the ministerial meeting.

In a statement on his arrival, Mr Natwar Singh said apart from meeting his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, he would call on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain.

Mr Shashank said the Indian delegation took active part in the deliberations of the SAARC Standing Committee, which finalised the agenda for the ministerial meeting. India had proposed a feasibility study on the project to be undertaken in SAARC countries for poverty alleviation under the $ 100 million fund announced by New Delhi at the 12th SAARC Summit here. “We will also bear the cost of the feasibility study,” he added.

Mr Khokhar said Islamabad had made the proposal so that SAARC could emulate the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which was mandated to take up and resolve bilateral issues. Mr Shashank also emphasised that peace and security and bilateral issues could not be discussed at the SAARC forum. — UNI
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Putin removes army chief

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets the newly appointed Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluyevsky
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets the newly appointed Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluyevsky in Moscow on Monday. — Reuters photo

Moscow, July 19
In a major overhaul of Russia’s military top brass, President Vladimir Putin today appointed top arms control expert Gen Yuri Baluyevsky as the Chief of General Staff of the country’s armed forces after removing Gen Anatoly Kvashnin, who was at loggerheads with the Defence Ministry.

Asserting his authority over the defence set up, Mr Putin sacked many key officials to appoint allies on major posts, including the commander of counter-insurgency operations in the restive Chechnya region.

General Kvashnin, who had held the post since 1997, had fallen out of favour after his stand against defence staff cutbacks.

By his other decrees, Mr Putin appointed Mr Alexander Belousov as the First Deputy Defence Minister. The President has also reshuffled the North Caucasian Military District command involved in Chechnya insurgency operations by appointing Gen Alexander Baranov as its commanding officer, while the incumbent Gen Vladimir Boldyrev has been shifted to Ural-Volga Military District to replace General Baranov.

In his biggest shake up of the security services in recent years, Mr Putin also sacked Chief of the Interior Troops Gen Alexander Tikhomirov, Commanding Officer of Interior Troops in the North Caucasian Military District and Deputy Director of FSB Anatoly Yezhkov, the Kremlin said.

It is believed that they have been dismissed following last month’s terror raid in Ingushetia in which over 90 persons, mostly police and security personnel were killed by the rebels. — PTI
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Korean talks called off

Seoul, July 19
Inter-Korean military talks were called off today after North Korea protested an incident in which the South Korean navy said it had fired warning shots at a North Korean vessel.

The meeting was to examine progress on the dismantlement of loudspeakers and other propaganda apparatus installed for the past 50 years along the world’s last Cold War frontier.

“The talks will not take place as planned because North Korea has not responded to our proposal,” a ministry official said. — AFP
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BRIEFLY


A Palestinian militant of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, holds a makeshift mortar launcher during a march supporting Mussa Arafat and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City on Monday
A Palestinian militant of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, holds a makeshift mortar launcher during a march supporting Mussa Arafat and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City on Monday. Backing down in the face of other widespread protests, Yasser Arafat replaced his cousin as Palestinian security chief on Monday and asked the former chief to return to his job, Palestinian officials said. — AP/ PTI

Arafat sacks security chief
RAMALLAH:
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has sacked his new security chief Mussa Arafat and re-appointed Brig Razik al-Majeida in his place, senior Palestinian security sources in Gaza said on Monday. Musa Arafat, a relative of the President, had been appointed to replace al-Majeida on Saturday, but the move sparked violent protests in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, with demonstrators taking to streets in protest. — DPA

Rape weapon of war in Sudan
LONDON:
Rape is being used as a “weapon of war” by Janjaweed militiamen in the south-western Sudanese province of Darfur, Amnesty International said on Monday. The London-based human rights organisation said girls as young as eight and women as old as 80 were being subjected to gang rape. “The mass rapes ongoing in Darfur are crimes against humanity but the international community is doing very little to stop it,” Amnesty said. Its British director Kate Allen accused the Sudanese government of involvement and called for sanctions. — DPA

Pak forces kill 2 Uzbek militants
ISLAMABAD:
Pakistani troops traded fire with foreign militants in a remote tribal region near Afghanistan, killing two suspected Uzbek fighters and forcing another group of suspects to flee the area, an army spokesman and security officials said on Monday. Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said several “foreign terrorists” were injured in the exchange of fire on Sunday in two valleys of Shakai, a village in south Waziristan, which until recently was considered to be a stronghold of foreigners. — AP
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