tampabay.com

British dealt blow after handover in Afghanistan

By TIMES WIRES
Published August 2, 2006


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Suspected Taliban militants used rocket-propelled grenades to ambush a British patrol on Tuesday, killing three soldiers just one day after NATO took command of southern Afghanistan, said Brig. Ed Butler, the British force commander.

The attack in Helmand province seriously wounded a fourth soldier and marked the deadliest single incident suffered by British forces since they deployed in late 2001 to help topple the Taliban regime for harboring Osama bin Laden. Sixteen British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

The attack followed NATO's assumption of control Monday of military operations in southern Afghanistan from the U.S.-led coalition. It also underscored the dangers faced by the 8,000-member multinational contingent to try to crush the bloodiest spate of Taliban-led violence in nearly five years.

Russian oil giant Yukos declared bankrupt

MOSCOW - OAO Yukos, once Russia' biggest oil company, was declared bankrupt Tuesday after a three-year campaign by government tax authorities that critics called a politically motivated campaign against Yukos' founder.

The government cast its actions as a crusade against a rotten corporate empire.

The campaign rattled Russia's investment climate, and the bankruptcy declaration opened the way for the Kremlin to further tighten its grip on the strategically vital energy sector.

The ruling was a muted epilogue that followed the conviction of Yukos' billionaire founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky last summer on fraud and tax evasion charges. Some considered the case punishment for Khodorkovsky's perceived political ambitions.