Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

Briefly

June 15, 2003

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Afghanistan

Insurgents stepping up attacks on coalition

Insurgents in eastern Afghanistan fired rockets at a U.S. base Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks against American forces.

Three rockets were fired at the U.S. base in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province, U.S. military spokesman Col. Rodney Davis said. The rockets missed, as scores of others have over the past year, and they caused no damage or casualties.

"We've seen an increase in the number of engagements and rocket attacks ... over the last few months, but we believe that there is something seasonal to that," Davis said.

Insurgents appear to be increasingly launching attacks now that freezing temperatures have given way to warmer weather, Davis said.

Cambodia

Team to dig up Khmer Rouge graves

International forensics experts will begin excavating mass grave sites in Cambodia to determine how victims of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime died, a leading researcher said.

The U.S.-funded excavation at two grave sites in Takeo province will be the first of its kind in two decades, said Youk Chhang, director of the Cambodian Documentation Center, which compiles evidence of atrocities committed by the regime that ruled from 1975 to 1979.

The sites, about 40 miles south of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, contain the remains of an estimated 400-1,000 people each, he said.

Rome

Mosque removes imam who praised fighters

The main mosque in Rome suspended its imam after he delivered a sermon praising Palestinian fighters and calling for the destruction of Islam's enemies, officials said Saturday.

The decision by the mosque's administrators to remove Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa capped a week of debate about the sermon, delivered during Friday prayers June 6 and published, in part, by the Rome daily La Repubblica a day later.

Italy's interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, expressed outrage at the imam's call, saying Italy's mosques "must be completely free of preachers of violence, recruiters for holy war and agents of foreign interests in Italy."

Mexico

Authorities capture kidnapping ring suspect

Authorities in Mexico's largest state have arrested a former police officer accused of helping to direct a band of kidnappers that carried out dozens of abductions across central Mexico.

Rogelio Garcia, who was arrested Friday, was fired last month as a police officer in the Mexico State town of Atizapan de Zaragoza, which borders Mexico City, as authorities investigated charges he used his post to protect kidnappers.

Police believe he was the head of a band of kidnappers known as "The Judases."

Tokyo

Briton trying to row across Pacific rescued

A British man attempting to row a boat across the Pacific Ocean sought rescue from Japan's coast guard Saturday after his rudder broke and he was forced to abandon his trip.

Mick Dawson called Japanese authorities with a satellite telephone at 4:58 a.m. Japan time, said a coast guard official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The coast guard dispatched a patrol boat and a search plane to locate Dawson, who was about 350 miles off the coast of Miyagi province in northern Japan.

Dawson, who had set off from Japan's eastern coast for San Francisco on June 2, has plenty of food and water and is not injured, he added.

Saudi Arabia

Five more suspects arrested in bombing

At least five more suspects have been arrested in connection with last month's suicide bombings at Western residential compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's interior minister said in remarks published Saturday.

One of the five might have had "a main role" in the attacks, which killed 26 people, including eight Americans, Prince Nayef told the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh.

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