Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2004


February 15, 2004



Earthquakes kill at least 17, damages 150 homes

Two earthquakes struck a remote region of northern Pakistan on Saturday, toppling walls and triggering landslides that killed at least 17 people and injured 30 others. Some 150 homes were damaged.

At least one person was reported missing. Rescue crews were trying to reach the area in the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range, which is covered by a thick blanket of snow. Officials feared the death toll might rise as temperatures plunged overnight.

The temblors, measuring 5.7 and 5.5, were about 90 minutes apart, with the first striking at 3:30 p.m. They were centered 125 miles northeast of Peshawar and were felt 90 miles away in the capital, Islamabad.


Aid workers killed in ambush; U.S. soldier dies in mine blast

Four Afghan aid workers were killed in an ambush Saturday, the latest victims in a bloody Taliban-led insurgency threatening plans for midyear elections. A U.S. soldier died in a mine blast, but the military said it was unclear if it was an attack.

The anti-tank mine exploded under a Humvee on Friday in eastern Afghanistan, killing the soldier and wounding nine others.

Investigators were examining whether the blast, northwest of the city of Ghazni, was a targeted attack on the patrol "or just a leftover mine," Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty said. Afghanistan is littered with old munitions from more than 20 years of war.

On Saturday, four Afghans working for a de-mining agency were fatally shot in an ambush in the west of the country, officials said.


U.S. engineers seal up Saddam's final hiding place

U.S. Army engineers have sealed the underground bunker where former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured to prevent it from becoming a tourist attraction, a military spokesman said Saturday.

Soldiers lowered a 300-pound slab of concrete over the hole Feb. 4, said Master Sgt. Robert Cargie, spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division.

Saddam was captured Dec. 13 in the bunker in the small farming village of Adwar.

Cargie said the hole was sealed to "limit human traffic" to the area. Since his capture, a steady stream of U.S. soldiers, journalists and visiting foreign officials have traveled to Adwar to have their picture taken next to -- or inside -- the bunker.


Thousands march against ban on Islamic head scarves

Thousands of people, many of them women wearing head scarves, marched in France Saturday to protest a law banning the Islamic coverings and other religious apparel in public schools.

Protesters said the law was discriminatory and would prevent Muslim girls from attending school.

"We can't conceive that an exclusion law has been voted, a law that will prevent young adolescent women from their right to get education," Khadidja Marfouk said.

Police estimated that 2,600 people marched in the southern city of Lyon and 1,300 in Paris, just two of a dozen cities where protests were planned.

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