Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004


June 17, 2004



Four killed in bombing of NATO vehicle

A bomb hit a car used by NATO-led peacekeepers in northern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing four civilians, including two children, police said.

The attack came a week after 11 Chinese workers were shot in their beds in the same province, and a day after President Bush lauded Afghanistan as the "first victory in the war on terror."

Police said the bomb showered shrapnel on the SUV as it passed through a busy market in Kunduz, 150 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

"A mine was detonated on the edge of the road by remote control," Kunduz police chief Mutaleb Beg said. "The driver lost control and ran the car into a wall."

The Afghan driver, as well as two children aged about 10 and an elderly man who were passers-by, were killed, Beg said.


Billionaires go on trial

Caged together in a small, stuffy courtroom, two billionaires went on trial Wednesday in a politically charged case that will send signals to investors about the Kremlin's power over the economy.

Former Yukos oil company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, sat alongside his top business partner, Platon Lebedev, in a metal cage in the Meshchansky district court for what was to have been the first substantive hearing in their trial on charges that include fraud and tax evasion.

But Judge Irina Kolesnikova agreed to a defense request to hear only procedural issues until Khodorkovsky's main lawyer, Genrikh Padva, recovers from eye surgery.

In a session that lasted more than nine hours, the three-judge panel rejected the latest request by the defendants to be released from jail during their trial -- widely expected rulings that Khodorkovsky said were symptoms of a system that assumes guilt.

South Africa

Polio vaccinations to begin for children

The South African government plans to immunize all children in the country younger than 5 against polio, officials said Wednesday, as global eradication efforts struggle against outbreaks on a continent where the disease had largely been eliminated.

Nine African countries that had been free of polio have reported cases in the past two years. South Africa, which has been free of the disease, has given new urgency to eradication after a case was reported in February in neighboring Botswana.

Health officials say they hope to reach all 5 million South African children younger than 5 with two rounds of the vaccine from July through September. The nearly $4 million program would be the country's fourth mass vaccination campaign since 1994.


New draft retains tough language on Iran

Europe's three major powers shrugged off Iranian threats of retaliation Wednesday and put the final touches on a tough resolution rebuking Tehran for continued nuclear cover-ups.

The new draft seen by The Associated Press retained strong language designed to maintain pressure on Iran a year after the International Atomic Energy Agency began to probe nearly two decades of its suspect nuclear program.

Delegates at a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors described the draft, written by France, Britain and Germany, as strongly worded.

Suggesting agreement was close, the delegate said the draft could be formally submitted to the meeting by today.

In a veiled threat that enrichment could resume if the IAEA resolution is too harsh, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned that his country had no "moral commitment" to maintain the suspension and would not accept a toughly worded text.

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