World briefs 9/1/04

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

U.S. warplanes bomb militants in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. warplanes launched attacks near a village in eastern Afghanistan, killing more than a dozen people, after assailants rocketed a government office, officials said Tuesday. Afghan officials said U.S. bombs landed in the village of Weradesh and five unarmed civilians were killed. But the American military said the village wasn't hit and it had no reports of civilian casualties. It wasn't immediately possible to check the conflicting statements.

Hurricane Frances grows, grazes Puerto Rico

LUQUILLO, Puerto Rico -- Hurricane Frances brushed Puerto Rico with pounding surf and blustery winds Tuesday as its powerful vortex swirled offshore on a path toward the Bahamas and the southeastern United States. Frances strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 hurricane Tuesday, with sustained winds up to 140 mph. But it only grazed Puerto Rico with rain and lightning that knocked out electricity to about 17,000 people in the U.S. territory. No injuries were reported.

Turkish troops kill 11 Kurdish rebels

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish commandos killed 11 Kurds in three days of battles in the mountains bordering Iraq, one of the biggest offensives against the autonomy-seeking rebels in five years, authorities said Tuesday. The government didn't rule out bolstering its forces in northern Iraq. Two Turkish soldiers have also been killed in the fighting in southeastern Hakkari province, officials said. The offensive comes amid mounting rebel violence in overwhelmingly Kurdish southeastern Turkey.

Ex-ambassador: World lacking in Darfur help

AL-FASHER, Sudan -- The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations visited a refugee camp in the troubled Darfur region on Tuesday and sharply criticized Sudan, the United Nations, the U.S. administration and the international community for doing too little to stem the humanitarian crisis there. Richard Holbrooke, traveling with U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, visited the Krinding camp near El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state.

Kidnapped journalists appeal head scarf law

PARIS -- France intensified efforts Tuesday to save two journalists held hostage in Iraq, convening crisis talks in Paris and around the Arab world as a 24-hour execution deadline set by militants neared. French President Jacques Chirac said every effort was being made to free the journalists -- although his government has steadfastly refused to bow to kidnappers' demands that a new law banning Islamic head scarves in French public schools be revoked.

British crack down on anti-social behavior

LONDON -- A great-grandfather is banned from being sarcastic and two record companies are told not to put up advertising posters. Both have fallen foul of the British government's latest weapon against petty crime, vandalism and hooliganism -- the anti-social behavior order, known popularly as an ASBO. Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday hailed the growing use of the orders, which have been used to ban thousands of people, some as young as 10, from associating with certain people or engaging in activities as varied as shouting, swearing, spray painting, playing loud music and walking down certain streets. Breaching an order is a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison.-- From wire reports

State of Iraqi oil exports mired in confusion

FAW, Iraq -- The status of Iraq's crucial oil exports was mired in confusion Tuesday, with government and industry officials giving contradictory statements about whether oil was flowing or whether there were even oil tankers at the main offshore terminal near Faw. Two top officials with the state-run South Oil Co. said Tuesday that oil shipments from southern Iraq -- which account for 90 percent of the country's exports -- remained halted after weekend attacks on pipelines and oil fields. But another said exports were running at 800,000 barrels a day, about half the normal flow.

Politicians focus on renewed Belfast power-sharing

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Negotiations on reviving power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the dream of the 1998 peace accord, resume Wednesday on the 10th anniversary of an Irish Republican Army cease-fire. The key, all sides agree, will be whether the outlawed IRA makes sufficient new peace commitments that persuade the Democratic Unionists, the dominant Protestant party, to cooperate with the IRA's Sinn Fein party.

-- From wire reports

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