World Digest

WORLD DIGEST

August 25, 2006

U.S. generals claim success in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- America's two top generals in the Middle East said yesterday that a security operation in Baghdad was helping to curb violence after a surge of bombings and shootings in recent months. But the bloodshed persisted, with three car bombs in Baghdad and a series of bombings and shootings across the country killing at least 16 Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers yesterday. Another U.S. soldier was killed the previous day, the military said. U.S. authorities say a joint American and Iraqi operation that began early this month has improved security. The U.S. military has said the operation, for which 12,000 troops were redeployed to Baghdad, aims to curb mostly sectarian warfare.

Blind China activist sentenced to 4 years

BEIJING --A blind Chinese activist who drew international attention by exposing the country's harsh family-planning policies was sentenced yesterday to four years and three months in prison, according to the official New China News agency. Chen Guangcheng was tried last week on charges of damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic." He was represented at his two-hour trial by a pair of court-appointed lawyers he had never met before. Chen's supporters say the case has made a mockery of the Chinese judicial system and serves as a graphic reminder of the government's strenuous efforts to silence its critics.

Suspect in German bomb plot arrested

BERLIN --A second key suspect in a failed plot to bomb two German trains surrendered to police in his native Lebanon yesterday, a day after authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him, German federal prosecutors said. The arrest of Jihad Hamad came less than a week after the other main suspect, a 21-year-old Lebanese student identified as Youssef Mohamad el Hajdib, was arrested in Germany. Authorities say the men are suspected of planting crude bombs July 31 on two trains at Cologne station, where they were seen in grainy surveillance camera video.

NYT researcher sentenced in China

BEIJING --A Chinese researcher for The New York Times was acquitted today of state secrets charges but was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years in prison, one of his defense lawyers said. Zhao Yan, 44, was detained in 2004. The government has not released details of the charges, but the case is believed to stem from a Times report on then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's plans to relinquish his post as head of the military. Zhao's lawyer, Guan Anping, said he didn't know whether Zhao would appeal the conviction, which was handed down by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court.

No proof of threat, 12 passengers freed

HAARLEM, Netherlands --Prosecutors said yesterday that they found no evidence of a terrorist threat aboard a Northwest Airlines flight to India that returned to Amsterdam, and they are releasing all 12 passengers arrested after the emergency landing. The men, all Indian nationals, had aroused suspicions on Flight NW0042 to Bombay because they had a large number of cell phones, laptops and hard drives, and they refused to follow the crew's instructions, prosecutors said.

Obama is a big hit in family homeland

NAIROBI, Kenya --Barack Obama landed only yesterday for his latest visit to his father's homeland, but the U.S. senator has already become the country's most prominent "citizen." People drinking a Kenyan beer called Senator are ordering "Obama" instead. Obama's photograph is popping up on T-shirts, and the once knee-high grass in his ancestral village was cut in advance of his arrival. As the only African-American in the U.S. Senate, Obama is seen as an inspiration in this East African country where more than half its 33 million people eke out a living on less than $1 a day. Obama arrived yesterday for a six-day visit and planned to meet with President Mwai Kibaki and stop at the site where Nairobi's U.S. Embassy was bombed in 1998, killing 248 people.

8 Afghans killed in U.S. operation

KABUL, Afghanistan --Eight civilians, including a child, were killed in an operation by U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, an Afghan police official said. U.S. forces acknowledged killing a child and injuring a woman but said the seven men who were also killed were al-Qaida "facilitators" who had fired on them as they approached a compound.

From wire reports

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