News from around the World

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on December 7, 2010

(The excerpts below are from – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

CANADA – Officials concerned over freeing detainees

OTTAWA | Canada has expressed its “grave concern” to Kabul that Afghan security forces are regularly freeing senior Taliban captives, a Canadian official said on Wednesday.

Reuters revealed on Tuesday that senior Taliban prisoners were being released either for payment or for political motives, with President Hamid Karzai and his powerful brother among those authorizing and requesting releases.

One of the freed men was Ghulam Haidar, a top insurgent in the southern Taliban heartland of Kandahar, where Canada has a 2,800-strong combat mission.

Canadian soldiers handed Mr. Haidar over to Afghan authorities in March this year, yet days later he was out on the streets.

IRAQ – Foreign fighters renew threat to peace

BAGHDAD | Intelligence officials say foreign fighters have been slipping back into Iraq in larger numbers and may have been behind some of the most devastating attacks this year, reviving a threat that the U.S. military thought had been almost eradicated.

It is impossible to verify the numbers of foreign insurgents entering the country, but one Middle Eastern intelligence official estimated that 250 came in October alone. U.S. officials said the figure is far lower, but have acknowledged an increase since August.

Iraqi officials said there also has been a surge in financial aid to al Qaeda’s front group in Iraq as the U.S. military prepares to leave by the end of 2011. They said it reflects fears by Arab states over the growing influence of Iran’s Shiite-led government over Iraq and its Shiite-dominated government.

On Sunday, security official Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said Iraqi forces are searching for six foreign fighters who are among Iraq’s most wanted terrorists.

VENEZUELA – Floods force more evacuations

CARACAS | Deadly floods and mudslides caused by torrential rains prompted authorities to evacuate hundreds more Venezuelans from high-risk regions Sunday and stoked fears that voters would abstain from important elections in 11 cities and two states.

Meteorologists forecast more rain in several of the states hit hardest by a weeks-long deluge. Vice President Elias Jaua announced that a dam overflowed in western Zulia state, but he called for calm, saying the incident had not caused any deaths and noting that 300 people living in villages below the dam had been evacuated.

The floods and mudslides, unleashed by more than two weeks of steady rain throughout much of this South American nation of 28 million, have killed at least 34 people and left more than 5,000 Venezuelans homeless. At least 75,000 people have taken refuge at hundreds of shelters, authorities said.

RUSSIA – Off-course satellites plunge into Pacific

MOSCOW | Three Russian satellites crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday after a failed launch, media reported, in a setback to a Kremlin project designed as a rival to widely used U.S. navigation technology.

Russian news agencies reported that the satellites went off course and crashed near Hawaii after blasting off from Russia’s Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

A spokesman at the space agency Roscosmos could not confirm media reports but said the satellites had deviated from their planned course after a Proton-M rocket launcher malfunctioned.

“It was an unplanned situation,” said the spokesman. He declined to give further details.

Interfax news agency quoted an aerospace industry source as saying that the carrier veered from course, bringing the upper part of the rocket with the satellites into an incomplete orbit and causing them to fall back into the atmosphere.

GREECE – Suspected anarchists among 6 arrested

ATHENS | Police in Greece have arrested six people – two of them suspected radical anarchists – after finding a large haul of guns and explosives in various hide-outs, officials said Sunday.

The suspects, who are ages 21 to 30 and include a woman, were caught after police raids on Saturday in the capital, the port of Piraeus, the western town of Agrinio and the island of Crete, police Chief Lefteris Oikonomou said.

Two of the suspects already were wanted by police in connection with a radical anarchist group, Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, that was behind a parcel bomb campaign against European leaders and embassies uncovered last month.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from “World Briefs” published at on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 and from “World Scene” and “Briefly” published at on Sunday, December 5, 2010.

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