8 U.S. Soldiers Injured In Afghan Attack

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Insurgents attacked U.S. forces with rocket-propelled grenades and explosives on roads in southern Afghanistan on Friday, injuring at least eight soldiers, two seriously, the U.S. military said.

The first attack occurred at 7 a.m. as a 10-vehicle convoy made its way along a road east of Daychopan, in the province of Zabol. About 10 suspected Taliban insurgents fired RPGs at the convoy, prompting the U.S. forces to fire back with small arms.

About six hours later, rebels set off a roadside bomb near the provincial capital, Qalat, as a U.S. convoy passed. Three soldiers were injured, but all returned to duty.

It was not clear if there were any rebel casualties, said Maj. Rick Peat, a U.S. military spokesman.

In neighboring Uruzgan province, a convoy carrying election workers was also reportedly ambushed Thursday.

Four jeeps carrying staff members from a U.N.-sponsored program to register voters for upcoming elections and their guards came under fire in remote Char Cheno district, provincial police chief Rozi Khan said.

He said the vehicles were destroyed and two drivers and one election worker were missing, but had no further details.


* IGALIKU, Greenland -- The United States, Denmark and Greenland signed agreements Friday to upgrade the early warning radar system at Thule, a U.S. air base during the Cold War that now has a crucial role in the Bush administration's plans for an anti-missile defense system.

"Together we will meet the security challenges of the 21st century, from missile defense to international terrorism," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said at a ceremony in this village on a fjord.

All 47 residents, give or take a few, turned out, many in local costumes. It isn't every day a world figure comes to this Inuit hamlet. Greenland, the world's largest island, has about 56,000 people.


* BEIJING -- Chinese and Pakistani troops wrapped up their first joint anti-terrorism exercises Friday in China's northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang, the Chinese government said.

The exercise involved more than 200 officers and soldiers from both sides and was held on a mountain range in an area where China borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Pakistani officials say Xinjiang was chosen for the exercises because it was between both countries.

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- An Indonesian appeals court has thrown out the convictions of three military officers and a police general who had been sentenced to prison for involvement in mob violence in East Timor that left about 1,500 people dead, according to the verdict announced Friday.

The decision means that Indonesian courts have now cleared all 16 security officers charged in connection with the killings, which Western diplomats and human rights activists said had been orchestrated by the military after East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

-- Alan Sipress


* SANAA, Yemen -- Yemeni forces have ended a major offensive against an anti-U.S. cleric after more than a month of fighting, but troops are still hunting the fugitive rebel and a handful of his followers, security sources said Friday.

They said troops had seized the last stronghold of Hussein Houthi in Saada province Thursday and are now conducting house-to-house searches for him.

More than 200 rebels and troops have been killed in fierce clashes in Saada, 150 miles north of the capital, Sanaa, since the government launched a crackdown on Houthi on June 20.


* TIJUANA, Mexico -- An outspoken racetrack owner was declared the victor Thursday in Tijuana's mayoral race, returning control of the key political post to the former ruling party.

Jorge Hank Rhon of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, garnered 47.46 percent of Sunday's vote and Jorge Ramos of the National Action Party finished with 46.37 percent, said electoral institute spokeswoman Rosario Mosso after the official count was concluded Thursday.

Hank Rhon overcame a double-digit deficit in pre-election opinion polls to best Ramos by about 3,000 votes, a victory that ended President Vicente Fox's National Action Party's 15-year hold on the office.

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez said he hoped ties between his country and its biggest oil client, the United States, would improve dramatically if Democrat John F. Kerry won the U.S. presidential election in November.

Left-winger Chavez faces a referendum on his rule on Aug. 15 and has accused President Bush of backing opposition efforts to overthrow him. The Bush administration denies the charge but has strongly supported the Venezuelan referendum process.


* KORHOGO, Ivory Coast -- Dozens of boys and men suffocated in an airless, sweltering shipping container in which rebels locked more than 100 people for days, two survivors told the Associated Press, backing accounts of atrocities during factional fighting in Ivory Coast's rebel-held north.

-- From News Services