Afghan military says dozens of insurgents killed

By wire services
Published June 26, 2005

MIANA SHIEN, Afghanistan - The bodies of 76 suspected rebels were found in the mountains of southern Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry said Saturday, bringing to 178 the number of insurgents killed in one of the deadliest bombardments by U.S. and Afghan forces since the Taliban fell in 2001.

Though no major fighting has occurred in or around the Miana Shien district since three days of airstrikes ended Thursday, about 80 rebels are believed to be still hiding in the mountains. They include two widely known Taliban commanders - Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brader.

The U.S. military's toll of insurgents killed was much lower, at 56, but spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said this did not necessarily make the government's figure wrong, because Afghan forces had taken the lead in the operation and U.S.-led coalition troops were finding it hard to count the dead.

U.S. lawmakers tour prison at Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Progress has been made to improve conditions and protect detainees' rights at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists, House Republicans and Democrats - including one who has advocated closing the facility - said Saturday.

The U.S. lawmakers witnessed interrogations, toured cell blocks and ate the same lunch given to detainees on the first congressional visit to the prison since criticism of it intensified in the spring.

Still, lawmakers from both parties agree more still must be done to ensure an adequate legal process is in place to handle detainee cases.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is one of many Democrats who have called for an independent commission to investigate abuse allegations and said the facility should close. She stopped short of changing her position after the visit, but acknowledged, "What we've seen here is evidence that we've made progress."

Zimbabwe says cleanup includes providing homes

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Hundreds of homes have been built in Zimbabwe's capital to replace some of the thousands destroyed in a widely criticized official "cleanup" campaign, the government said Saturday ahead of a planned visit by a U.N. envoy.

President Robert Mugabe earlier scorned Western "demonization" of his five-week program called Drive Out Trash, which has left between 200,000 and 1.5-million Zimbabweans without homes or livelihoods.

State radio reported Saturday that the first 500 of 5,600 new homes were ready for occupation in the capital, Harare, and 250,000 plots of land had been made available immediately countrywide.

Mugabe also pledged $325-million to provide 1.2-million houses and plots of land by 2008.

40 settler families say they'll leave Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM - A group of 40 Jewish settler families said Saturday they expect to move out of their Gaza Strip homes next month, becoming the first to announce definite plans to leave ahead of the Israeli withdrawal from the coastal area.

The families from northern Gaza make up only a small fraction of the 1,600 families slated for evacuation this summer.

Elsewhere ...

"EUROPE'S ENRON': The founder and chief executive of Parmalat, the Italian dairy and juice giant that collapsed in an $18-billion fraud case known as "Europe's Enron," must stand trial for alleged market securities violations, an Italian judge ruled Saturday. The judge also ordered executives at the Italian branches of Bank of America, Grant Thornton and the auditing firm of Deloitte & Touche to stand trial in the case, along with 15 other people.

RUSSIA BLASTS: Four explosions aimed at police vehicles and transportation links, including one that derailed a cargo train, wounded eight people Saturday in the volatile Caspian Sea region of Dagestan, Russia, officials said.

COLOMBIA ATTACKS: Leftist rebels killed at least 25 soldiers in separate clashes Saturday in Colombia, the worst death toll in a single day for the military since President Alvaro Uribe came to power three years ago on pledges of crushing the guerrillas. An additional 18 soldiers were reported missing.