NATO troops are to assume responsibility Monday for security in southern Afghanistan after a weekend in which Taliban remnants took more heavy casualties. Reports said US-led coalition forces killed or wounded 38 Taliban Saturday and captured four Al Qaeda operatives. Another 20 Taliban were killed Sunday in fighting and four others died when land mines they were planting exploded prematurely. To date, the 50-day-old anti-Taliban Operation Mountain Thrust has killed at least 613 militants, wounded 87 others, and resulted in more than 250 arrests, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said.
Israeli security forces caught two would-be terrorist bombers Sunday near Nablus in the West Bank, a day after killing the leader of Islamic Jihad's militant wing there as the crackdown against Palestinian militants intensified. Islamic Jihad has been responsible for the last 12 bombing attacks inside Israel, resulting in 71 deaths. In the Gaza Strip, warplanes attacked the home of the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, wounding two people after residents had been warned earlier to leave. The home was "used to store weaponry," an army spokeswoman said. Still, the BBC reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was upbeat about the possibility of a negotiated cease-fire in Gaza that would result in the handover of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to a third party, probably Egypt.
Armed police had to separate brawling members of parliament in Somalia Sunday after a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Ali Mohamad Gedi failed to pass. The margin was 126 to 88, or 13 fewer than needed to censure him. A defeat would have led to the dissolution of his weak government, analysts said. Proponents had argued that Gedi has been incompetent and that a new leader is necessary to bring the increasingly powerful Supreme Islamic Courts Council into the government. His cause was further undermined when his constitutional affairs minister was assassinated Friday night, sending protesters into the streets to demand that law and order be restored.
A shake-up in the cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could come by week's end, members of Iraq's parliament from his Dawa Party said Sunday. The Interior Ministry, in particular, is a candidate for change, they said, because of "sectarianism" and corruption in its ranks. The ministry is expected to announce a new security plan in September. Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told the Associated Press he was unaware of impending changes. He acknowledged corruption the ranks, however. Meanwhile, al-Maliki demanded that Arab television coverage of terrorist attacks "not fall into the trap set by ... groups who want to petrify the Iraqi people." Such coverage, he said, can undermine national security. He threatened unspecified legal action against the TV stations and networks.
For the first time since 2002, government troops were advancing on Tamil rebel positions in eastern Sri Lanka Sunday, supported by Air Force strikes against would-be separatist re-inforcements. A military spokes-man said the units were sent to smash a rebel blockade of a reservoir and irrigation channels that supply water to towns and to local farms owned by majority Sinhalese. More than 800 people have died this year in violence involving the separatist campaign, and the government blasted Nordic governments for giving in to a Tamil demand to withdraw their cease-fire monitors.
Supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador were massing in Mexico City Sunday for their third – and possibly largest – protest of the July 2 national election results. The effort to ratchet up pressure on the Federal Election Tribunal to order a recount by hand of the 41 million ballots cast came a day after López Obrador's lawyers asked the seven-judge panel to declare him president-elect. They argued that apparent winner Felipe Calderón's greatest voting margins came at polling places where López Obrador's Democratic Revolutionary Party had no observers. Previous demonstrations in the capital have attracted crowds estimated in the 100,000-500,000 range.