IRAQ: Iraq's former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, testified as a defense witness in the trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Aziz said Saddam and the other defendants acted within the law in moving to punish those involved in efforts to assassinate Iraq's president in Dujail in 1982. The defendants face the death penalty if found guilty of killing 148 Shi'ites in Dujail, after the assassination attempt. Aziz accused the Shi'ite Dawa Party, now part of Iraq's ruling coalition, of trying to kill him and Saddam in the 1980s. He urged the court put Dawa leaders on trial. Meanwhile, the U.S. military said coalition forces killed four insurgents and detained two others near Lake Thar Thar, northwest of Baghdad. American troops also killed three al-Qaida linked terrorists in a separate action near Yusifiyah, south of the capital.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Palestinian
hospital officials say unidentified gunmen shot and wounded three Hamas activists in southern Gaza early Wednesday. The shooting in the town of Khan Younis is the latest incident of violence in a series of clashes between Hamas and Fatah members battling for control of Palestinian security forces. Rival factions held an emergency meeting Tuesday in an effort to defuse tensions. Afterwards, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh -- a Hamas leader -- told reporters the internal fighting will not be allowed to escalate into civil war. He said all sides will work together to get gunmen off the streets of Gaza. The Palestinian security forces are currently led by the Fatah faction loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
EAST TIMOR UNREST: East Timorese officials say they have asked Australia and other countries to send security forces to East Timor to quell an uprising by disgruntled former soldiers. East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said on Wednesday he requested help from Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia. He says Canberra and Wellington agreed to send police and troops within the next few days.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said earlier today he would send troops to East Timor, if asked. Ramos-Horta says the foreign security forces will try to disarm former soldiers who are clashing with government troops. Gunbattles erupted Tuesday, leaving at least two people dead and five wounded. New clashes were reported today. Australia's government has advised its citizens to leave East Timor because of the unrest. Canberra has also begun evacuating non-essential staff from the country.
INDIA - KASHMIR: At least five people have been wounded in a grenade attack
in Indian Kashmir's summer capital during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Police say three civilians and two soldiers were wounded in the attack in a Srinigar neighborhood on Wednesday. The Associated Press says the attack happened about 15 kilometers from where Mr. Singh is holding talks aimed at ending a separatist insurgency. The Indian leader had hoped to bring pro-India Kashmiris and separatist Islamist leaders to the same negotiating table, but moderate Kashmiri separatists are boycotting the discussions. Srinigar has virtually shut down for the talks. Hundreds of troops are patrolling the city, checking people and vehicles for security threats. A suicide car bomber rammed a paramilitary vehicle on Tuesday, despite heightened patrols, killing a soldier and wounding at least 19 people.
AFGHAN - US: The United States military says a coalition airstrike on a southern Afghan village that killed at least 16 civilians was justified because American troops were being fired on from the village and had to defend themselves. U.S. military spokesman said in Kabul on Wednesday that coalition forces had the right to retaliate after being shot at by Taleban militants occupying the villagers' homes. He said U.S, forces did not know there were civilians in the homes. The air raids came during fighting that began late Sunday in Kandahar province.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had summoned the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan to explain the civilian casualties. Meanwhile, an Afghan army general said 60 suspected Taleban and at least four Afghan security forces were killed Tuesday in a clash in southern Afghanistan's Uruzgan province.
At least three Afghan soldiers were wounded in the firefight.
BRITAIN - TERRORISM ARREST: Police in Britain have arrested nine people in a large anti-terrorism operation carried out in five separate areas of the country. Authorities say about 500 officers were involved in Wednesday's raids.
The exact locations of the raids are unclear. Officials say the suspects are believed to have facilitated terrorism abroad, but gave no details of the offenses.
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