World Digest: July 7, 2013

July 7, 2013
AFGHANISTAN
Afghan American interpreter arrested

Afghanistan authorities have arrested a man who they say was a U.S. Special Operations interpreter who tortured and killed Afghans, accusations that prompted President Hamid Karzai in February to order the expulsion of U.S. forces from a province near Kabul, officials said Sunday.

Zakaria Kandahari was captured in a house in southern Kandahar nearly six weeks ago in a raid by Afghan intelligence agents and has been transferred to Kabul for interrogations, officials said. They did not say why they waited to announce his arrest.

The Afghan government issued an arrest warrant for Kandahari after local officials and residents alleged that he kidnapped villagers and executed detainees at a base used by U.S. Special Operations forces in Wardak province, where Afghan officials say he served as an interpreter for the forces.

The Kandahar governor’s office described Kandahari as holding Afghan and U.S. citizenship.

Days of anti-American protests were held in the province in late winter, leading to increased tension between Kabul and Washington. The U.S.-led NATO command here has said that inquiries have found no evidence to support allegations of misconduct by U.S. Special Operations forces in Wardak. Afghan officials have said that U.S. Special Operations officials had told them that its forces had no hand in the killings and abuses and that Kandahari had fled.

— Sayed Salahuddin

SYRIA
Shelling in Aleppo kills 6 prisoners

Shells smashed into a central prison in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo, killing some prisoners, a rights group said Sunday, part of a long battle for control of the ancient city.

The explosions killed six prisoners, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which communicates with a network of activists on the ground. The explosives hit Friday night, the group said. It was not clear who fired the shells.

With government forces stepping up offensives, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood called on the United States and Europe to send arms.

“Providing the Free Syrian Army and the revolutionary rebels with appropriate arms is more urgent now than at any time in the past,” the Brotherhood said on social media sites. “We feel cheated and disappointed because the U.S. and Europe have backed out from arming the FSA,” it said.

Last month, the Obama administration decided to provide some weapons to rebel forces, although Western countries are concerned that they could end up in the hands of extremist Sunni Muslims fighting with the rebels.

Rebels and government forces also clashed near the Shiite towns of Nubul and Zahra in Aleppo province, the Observatory and pro-rebel activists reported. The group said fighting killed three pro-government troops, including one foreigner, a word used to describe a member of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia.

— Associated Press

CANADA
Death toll reaches 5
in tanker derailment

As firefighters doused burning oil tanker rail cars in Lac-Megantic, more bodies were recovered Sunday in this devastated town in eastern Quebec, raising the death toll to five after a runaway train derailed, igniting explosions and fires that destroyed the downtown area.

Lt. Michel Brunet of the provincial police said Sunday that about 40 people have been reported missing. Brunet confirmed two more deaths Sunday afternoon after confirming that two people were found dead overnight. One death was confirmed Saturday.

Fires were preventing rescuers from reaching part of the 73-car train, and billowing black smoke could be seen long after the derailment early Saturday.

The multiple blasts came over a span of several hours in the town of 6,000, which is about 155 miles east of Montreal and about 10 miles west of Maine.

— Associated Press

Blasts at Buddhist sites in eastern India injure two: A series of explosions hit three Buddhist sites in eastern India early Sunday, injuring at least two people and drawing condemnation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Senior police officer S.K. Bhardwaj said a gate was badly damaged at one of the two temples in Bodhgaya, in Bihar state. Junior Home Minister R.P.N. Singh said no one asserted responsibility for the attacks.

‘Godfather of Heroin’ dies in Burma: A former drug kingpin and business tycoon once dubbed the “Godfather of Heroin” by the U.S. government died Saturday in his home in Rangoon, Burma’s main city, said a source close to the family who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Lo Hsing Han was thought to be in his mid-70s.

— From news services

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