SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

No agent in Al-Qaida’s inner circle, says CIA
Washington, July 24
Stung by criticism of the 9/11 Commission, the CIA has revealed that it had agents inside Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and still retain some, but admitted they are not within his inner circle where key information about any future attack will be discussed.

230 die in Bangladesh, Vietnam floods
Dhaka, July 24
The Bangladesh capital remained in the grip of floods with rivers around the city continuing to rise today as the toll in the natural calamity crossed 200 in the country. Flash floods in a northern Vietnamese province have claimed 31 lives, and more people are missing and feared dead, officials in Hanoi said today.

A rickshaw-puller toils with his passenger in a flooded area of Dhaka on Saturday. Some 4 million persons have been stranded in the capital of 10 million. A rickshaw-puller toils with his passenger in a flooded area of Dhaka on Saturday. Some four million people have been stranded in the capital of 10 million.
— Reuters photo

Kenya urges abductors to free hostages
Nairobi, July 24
Kenya today pleaded again with kidnappers to release three of its nationals held hostage in Iraq, saying it could not meet their new demands. “We are now requesting that the kidnappers release the Kenyan hostages because their employer has promised to pull out of Iraq,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua told AFP.

Egyptian diplomat taken hostage in Iraq
Baghdad, July 24
An armed group has kidnapped an Egyptian diplomat in Iraq, his embassy said in Baghdad. “Yes, yes sir it is him,” First Secretary Bader el-Din el-Desouki said referring to Mohammed Mamdouh Hilmi Kotb, the third most senior official at the Egyptian missionary in the Iraqi capital.
In video (28k, 56k)

Pak releases 3 aides of A.Q. Khan
Islamabad, July 24
Pakistan has conditionally released three key associates of the disgraced top nuclear scientist, Dr Abdul Qadir Khan, after more than six months in detention and placed strict restrictions on their movement and speech, officials and family sources said today.




Sets of twins enjoy a rollercoaster ride at a leisure park in Rust, Germany
Sets of twins enjoy a rollercoaster ride at a leisure park in Rust, Germany, on Saturday. Some 500 sets of twins from all over Germany, France and Luxembourg took part in the event sponsored by a German pharmaceutical company. — Reuters



EARLIER STORIES

 
If Michael Moore had hoped that his biting documentary Fahrenheit 911, a critique of the Bush administration, might turn the tide of the upcoming US presidential race, he may have to settle instead for the film's box-office success
If Michael Moore had hoped that his biting documentary Fahrenheit 911, a critique of the Bush administration, might turn the tide of the upcoming US presidential race, he may have to settle instead for the film's box-office success. A Los Angeles Times poll of likely voters published on Friday showed that Fahrenheit 911 is drawing an overwhelmingly Democratic audience and that few Republicans who have seen the movie appear to have been swayed. Moore is seen at the film's US premiere in Washington on Friday.


Tourist line-up at a beach in Hawaii to watch the sun set behind the western skyline on Friday. Summer travel to Hawaii is projected to top the record-breaking year of 2000. The positive numbers are bringing welcome relief to all parts of the local tourism industry. s— Reuters photos

Karachi blast leaves 1 dead, 7 injured
Islamabad, July 24
At least one person was killed and seven injured when a roadside bomb exploded near a religious seminary vehicle early today in Karachi, the police said. “It was a timer bomb fixed at the footpath near northern part of the city. When the van came near it, the bomb blew off,” the senior police officer of the city, Mr Munir Khoro, said.

NATO troops for Afghan poll
Brussels, July 24
NATO has approved plans to provide extra help, including up to 1,800 more troops, to Afghanistan to reinforce security there before the presidential election due to be held on October 9, an alliance statement said. The force will be composed of a Spanish and an Italian battalion, who will join the 6,500 NATO forces troops already in the country.

Pentagon declares Bush’s pay records
Washington, July 24
The Pentagon has declared it has found the payroll records of President George W Bush during his career in the Air National Guard in the Vietnam War, which were reported missing earlier this month. The records, however, did not resolve the key questions over whether Bush had carried out military duty in Alabama between May 1972 and May 1973.

6 baby sellers get death in China
Beijing, July 24
A court in southern China convicted 52 persons of selling infants in the black market, sentencing six to death and five to life in prison, Xinhua news agency reported today. The group was accused of trafficking 118 babies and was involved in two high-profile cases in March 2003 in which 28 baby girls were discovered in travel bags on a bus and 13 other babies were found being smuggled in the southern region of Guangxi.
Top



 

 

 


 

No agent in Al-Qaida’s inner circle, says CIA

Washington, July 24
Stung by criticism of the 9/11 Commission, the CIA has revealed that it had agents inside Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and still retain some, but admitted they are not within his inner circle where key information about any future attack will be discussed.

In a briefing to selected members of the media on Wednesday, a day before the 9/11 Commission released its final report, CIA officials also revealed that with the help of these agents, many Al-Qaida operatives were killed and plots to attack US installations were thwarted, the media reported today.

“They are beyond foot soldiers but not in the inner circle,” the Washington Post quoted an intelligence official as saying on condition of anonymity.

The agents, who include Pakistanis, Afghans and Uzbeks, were “more senior than the agents the US had three years ago who were on the periphery,” the official said.

Aided by them, electronic intercepts, satellite imagery and extensive help from foreign intelligence services, the US over the past two years had captured or killed two-thirds of bin Laden’s top aides and broken up plots against US Embassies, US and foreign aircraft, and ships and other targets worldwide, the Post reported.

However, although the US intelligence community believes that Al-Qaida today is far less capable than the team that put together the September 11 attacks, bin Laden “looks to the United States still as the brass ring” (top target), another intelligence official told a group of reporters.

The Post noted that this was the first time that the CIA officials had semi-publicly described with such specificity the placing of agents and other steps aimed at cracking the Al-Qaida.

“They made the revelation as part of the response to the stern criticism of the agency this week by the 9/11 Commission,” the paper said. The report had portrayed the US intelligence as having failed dramatically before the 2001 attacks, largely because it lacked sufficient sources of human intelligence about bin Laden’s organisation. — PTI
Top

 

230 die in Bangladesh, Vietnam floods

Dhaka, July 24
The Bangladesh capital remained in the grip of floods with rivers around the city continuing to rise today as the toll in the natural calamity crossed 200 in the country.

Flash floods in a northern Vietnamese province have claimed 31 lives, and more people are missing and feared dead, officials in Hanoi said today.

Many low-lying areas of Dhaka were inundated affecting thousands of people, officials said. Even diplomatic areas of Gulshan and Baridhara were flooded.

The official BSS news agency put the death toll at 202 since the floods hit the country three weeks ago. Tens of thousands of people have taken shelter on rooftops, schools and highways.

A spokesman for the government Flood Warning Centre said all the rivers around Dhaka continued to swell today and the situation in other parts of Bangladesh might worsen.

The situation in Kurigram and Gaibandha areas in the North remained serious, but water receded in the northeastern Sylhet district after which train and air links with Dhaka were restored, officials said.

More than two crore people have been hit by this year’s deluge, the worst since 1998, officials said.

Two more bodies were recovered yesterday, while 18 villagers remained missing from flash floods that hit three villages in Yen Minh District in northern Ha Giang province of Vietnam earlier in the week.

Rescuers found some bodies that had been washed nearly 30 km from their homes.

Nineteen persons were injured and 24 homes were destroyed. Many homeless residents are staying at temporary shelters in local government buildings and schools. — PTI, AP
Top

 

Kenya urges abductors to free hostages

Nairobi, July 24
Kenya today pleaded again with kidnappers to release three of its nationals held hostage in Iraq, saying it could not meet their new demands. “We are now requesting that the kidnappers release the Kenyan hostages because their employer has promised to pull out of Iraq,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua told AFP.

The Kenyan government had already appealed on Thursday for the release of its nationals, three truck drivers. “We plead with the kidnappers to release the men so that they can be reunited with their families,” Mr Mutua said then.

The group calling itself “The Holders of the Black Banners” offered last night a new 48-hour deadline to the Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport firm, for which the men worked, to pull out of the Gulf nation. The former deadline was fixed for today.

The group added yesterday a new demand of “payment of damages to families of victims of Fallujah and the release of Iraqi detainees from American and Kuwaiti prisons”, according to the Al-Jazeera news channel.

“As a country, we cannot meet these new demands, because we were not part of the attacks in Fallujah and we are not holding any Iraqi prisoner,” Mr Mutua added.

The group, also described as Black Flags, on Wednesday kidnapped three Kenyans, three Indians and an Egyptian, all truck drivers, and had originally set a deadline for today, saying it would then start to behead one hostage every 72 hours. — AFP
Top

 

Egyptian diplomat taken hostage in Iraq

Baghdad, July 24
An armed group has kidnapped an Egyptian diplomat in Iraq, his embassy said in Baghdad. “Yes, yes sir it is him,” First Secretary Bader el-Din el-Desouki said referring to Mohammed Mamdouh Hilmi Kotb, the third most senior official at the Egyptian missionary in the Iraqi capital.

Desouki provided no further details regarding the circumstances of Kotb’s abduction yesterday.

Just minutes before, Arab television Al-Jazeera broadcast a tape showing a man identified as Kotb sitting in front of six masked armed men dressed head-to-toe in black with white bandanas around their foreheads.

Kotb was purportedly kidnapped by a group called the Lions of Allah in response to what they described as “Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s offer to Iraq of his country’s security expertise.”

Al-Jazeera said Kotb spoke on the tape and “his abductors were treating him well and he gave assurances that the Egyptian embassy was not working with the US-led forces and is just helping the Iraqis with reconstruction.” — AFPTop

 

Pak releases 3 aides of A.Q. Khan

Islamabad, July 24
Pakistan has conditionally released three key associates of the disgraced top nuclear scientist, Dr Abdul Qadir Khan, after more than six months in detention and placed strict restrictions on their movement and speech, officials and family sources said today.

The three — Brig Sajawal Khan, scientist Nazir Ahmed and Major Islamul Haq — were detained late last year under a probe into a proliferation network run by Dr Khan, the father of the country’s nuclear programme.

Several scientists and officials of the country’s main uranium enrichment facility, Khan Research Laboratory, were released earlier this year after remaining under interrogation for months.

Only one scientist, Mohammad Farooq, is still in custody while Dr Khan has been under virtual house arrest since February when he was given a conditional pardon after he admitted to leaking nuclear secrets to other countries and sought clemency.

“These three who have been released, have been allowed to go home because they are not required for the time being,” a top military spokesman Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan, said. — AFP
Top

 

Karachi blast leaves 1 dead, 7 injured

Islamabad, July 24
At least one person was killed and seven injured when a roadside bomb exploded near a religious seminary vehicle early today in Karachi, the police said. “It was a timer bomb fixed at the footpath near northern part of the city. When the van came near it, the bomb blew off,” the senior police officer of the city, Mr Munir Khoro, said.

The van was carrying staff and students of Jamia Al-Rasheedia Trust — whose bank accounts have been seized by the government on suspicion of aiding the Al-Qaida members in the country and abroad.

The dead man was identified as Mohammed Azam, an electrician at the seminary, while the seven injured were all students, the police said.

Meanwhile, the police dismissed initial reports that the explosion occurred inside the vehicle.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. For several months Karachi, housing over 15 million people, has been experiencing sectarian violence by the extremist groups of the Sunni and Shia communities. — PTI
Top

 

NATO troops for Afghan poll

Brussels, July 24
NATO has approved plans to provide extra help, including up to 1,800 more troops, to Afghanistan to reinforce security there before the presidential election due to be held on October 9, an alliance statement said. The force will be composed of a Spanish and an Italian battalion, who will join the 6,500 NATO forces troops already in the country.

At the alliance summit in Istanbul last month NATO leaders took the decision in principle to beef up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but left the details open. — AFP
Top

 

Pentagon declares Bush’s pay records

Washington, July 24
The Pentagon has declared it has found the payroll records of President George W Bush during his career in the Air National Guard in the Vietnam War, which were reported missing earlier this month.

The records, however, did not resolve the key questions over whether Bush had carried out military duty in Alabama between May 1972 and May 1973, the Washington Post reported today.

The Democrats accused Bush of skipping military duty during this period, when thousands of drafted Americans were risking their lives in Vietnam. Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

The Pentagon released copies of Bush’s payroll covering the first quarter of 1969 — when Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard, and the third quarter of 1972 — when he had already transferred to the National Guard in the southern state of Alabama to work on the US senate campaign of a family friend.— PTI
Top

 

6 baby sellers get death in China

Beijing, July 24
A court in southern China convicted 52 persons of selling infants in the black market, sentencing six to death and five to life in prison, Xinhua news agency reported today. The group was accused of trafficking 118 babies and was involved in two high-profile cases in March 2003 in which 28 baby girls were discovered in travel bags on a bus and 13 other babies were found being smuggled in the southern region of Guangxi.

The Ring leaders Xie Deming and Cui Wenxian were sentenced to death yesterday, four others got suspended death sentences and five of the traffickers were given life in prison. The remaining were given jail sentences of varying lengths. The police said this was the biggest baby trafficking case in Communist China’s 55 years history.

The sale of women and children has become a nationwide problem in China, where stringent rules on family planning allow couples to have just one child, at least in the cities, and limit numbers elsewhere.

The restrictions have bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring, seen as the mainstay for aging parents and has resulted in abortions or killings of baby girls. — Reuters
Top

 
BRIEFLY

Courtney Love surrenders
Los Angeles:
Troubled US rock diva Courtney Love has turned herself in to the police, two weeks after a judge ordered her arrest when she failed to turn up in court on assault charges. The 40-year-old widow of grunge rocker Kurt Cobain walked into a Los Angeles police station with her lawyer and aides yesterday to be booked, photographed and fingerprinted before she was released on USD 150,000 bail, police said. — AFP

Kids asked to shun TV
New York:
Turn off the TV and go outside! Kids hear that from their parents all the time. Now, improbably, they’ll hear it from a TV network. This fall, the Nickelodeon network will go off the air for three hours one Saturday and urge its young viewers to play instead. “They’re not doing as much after-school play as they used to,” network president Cyma Zarghami said, “so we wanted to make sure they know it’s important.” — AP

US-S. Korea pact
Washington:
The United States and South Korea have finalised an agreement to redeploy all the US troops located in Seoul to Pyongtaek, some 80 kilometres south of the capital, by December 2008, the Pentagon has announced. In a statement yesterday, the US Defence Department said the agreement to redeploy the appoximately 8,000 US troops in the Seoul metropolitan area to Pyongtaek was finalised during a 10th round of talks here this week between the US and South Korean officials. — AFP

Garden of Eden
New York:
The United Nations will undertake an 11 million dollar project to help restore the marshlands of southern Iraq, considered to be the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden. The marshes suffered massive damages as Saddam Hussein built dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and vast drainage to punish Marsh Arabs whom he suspected of supporting uprising against his regime after the first Gulf war. — PTI

Chinese official killed in attack
Beijing:
A disgruntled villager, who was dissatisfied over a compensation amount he got for his land, killed a local official by triggering a suicide bombing in south-west China’s Sichuan province, the police said today. — PTI
Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |