International news roundup

By , Staff writer

US and Afghan officials began a joint investigation into another military raid in which the latter said 16 civilians were killed. But American commanders said the raid, in Laghman Province, was aimed at Taliban fighters, one of them a woman with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. They said photos taken at the scene would be shared with the investigators. Such raids are an ongoing source of friction in US-Afghan relations, and President Hamid Karzai complained angrily that the killing of civilians serves “to strengthen the terrorists.” Above, local villagers also vent their anger at the raid.

A potential new source of irritation opened between India and Pakistan Sunday after police chased down and killed two suspected militants near New Delhi. The latter reportedly were heavily armed and carried Pakistani identification. Before he died, one acknowledged that they’d come from Pakistan, police said, although there was no immediate evidence of a link to a terrorist movement. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the matter. India accuses Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba militants of the November siege in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) that killed 164 people.

Government forces in Sri Lanka have conquered the port of Mul-laittivu, the last Tamil rebel stronghold, a spokesman said. The claim could not be verified immediately, but it still set off celebrations in Colombo, the capital. The rebels have held Mullaittivu since 1996. If it is confirmed to have fallen, analysts say the surviving rebels will be forced into the jungle.

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At least 22 people died in Somalia’s capital when a car bomb exploded and a gun battle ensued between Islamist militiamen and African Union peacekeepers. The attack Saturday was the worst in weeks and came as members of parliament met in neighboring Djibouti to discuss how moderate Islamists could fit into an inclusive government that might stabilize the country since the Western-backed transitional government has failed to do so. More militant Islamists have refused to participate in the peace process.

Hundreds of rioters returned to the streets of Athens Saturday, smashing store windows, hurling chunks of broken pavement at police, and setting trash bins on fire in a demand that protesters arrested last month be freed. Analysts said the new demonstrations appear to be an effort to keep alive the spirit of insurrection that built up over two weeks of riots in December.

Former leftist rebels claimed the most seats in El Salvador’s election for a new legislature, all but completing their return from 17 years in the political wilderness. The Farabundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN) called its emergence as the largest party in the National Assembly a “platform for victory” when the nation votes for president March 15. But the FMLN fell short of a majority and can be outvoted in the assembly if its conservative opponents band together. The FMLN hasn’t held power since civil war ended there in 1992.

Electricians from across Europe were en route to France and Spain Sunday to help restore power after freak storms battered the two countries, killing at least 15 people and causing heavy property damage. Winds of up to 123 m.p.h. and heavy rains also caused the closure of airports and highways. The seasonal storms were the worst since December 1999. Above, neighbors cut smaller branches from a tree that fell on a roof at Lege Cap-Ferret, France.

Compiled from the wires

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