AFGHANISTAN

Officials say raid killed al-Qaeda commander

A top al-Qaeda commander was killed in a raid by Afghan forces last month, Afghan intelligence officials said Tuesday. The operation also involved U.S. airstrikes, which killed tens of civilians.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security said in a statement Tuesday that the Sept. 23 raid killed Asim Omar and six other al-Qaeda members in the southern province of Helmand.

Omar was the head of al-Qaeda operations in South Asia.

“They had been embedded inside the Taliban compound in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala,” the statement said.

The U.S.-Afghan operation was aimed at a Taliban hideout in the Musa Qala district, but the civilian deaths it caused rattled Afghanistan.

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At least 40 people attending a wedding party in the area were killed in the U.S. airstrikes, according to provincial officials.

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A provincial council member in Helmand had said that most of the dead were women and children. Twelve civilians were wounded.

The operation also killed 22 Taliban fighters, including foreigners, Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry had reported in a statement. Fourteen people were arrested, including five Pakistani nationals and one Bangladeshi. The statement said a large warehouse of supplies and equipment was destroyed.

— Associated Press

EUROPEAN UNION

Most members rebuff migrant boat plan

A large majority of European Union countries have refused to back a plan to quickly get migrants off boats in the Mediterranean Sea and distribute them among willing E.U. partners.

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At a meeting of E.U. interior ministers, only Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take part in the “fast-track” plan drawn up by Germany, France, Italy and Malta, which would screen migrants, relocate asylum seekers and return people who do not apply or qualify for asylum, all within four weeks.

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For more than a year, humanitarian ships that have picked up migrants from Libya in unseaworthy boats were blocked from docking or disembarking passengers in Italy or Malta.

The stance taken by the two countries resulted in standoffs that kept rescued migrants at sea for weeks until other E.U. nations pledged to take at least some of the people, who were seeking safety or better lives in Europe.

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The meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday had been meant to gauge enthusiasm for the temporary plan, in which countries would make “pre-declared pledges” on how many asylum seekers they would accept. Details of the scheme are sketchy, but it would operate for at least six months, unless migrant arrivals increase dramatically.

More than a million migrants arrived in the E.U. in 2015, most of them refugees from countries at war. New arrivals have since dropped to their lowest levels in about seven years.

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— Associated Press

INDIA

Tourists to be allowed back into Kashmir

Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir will allow tourists back into the Himalayan region two months after ordering them to leave because of security concerns ahead of a crackdown by Indian authorities, an official said Tuesday.

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But tourists are unlikely to experience normal life in the disputed area or be able to use mobile Internet or cellphones as services remain cut.

A local government spokesman said the decision was made after a review of the situation. Security restrictions “have now been withdrawn almost entirely from all parts of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. The spokesman said the restrictions on the entry of tourists will be lifted Thursday.

The government instructed tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave Aug. 2, three days before India stripped the Muslim-majority region of its statehood and decades-old semiautonomy.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government also sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the region, already one of the most militarized in the world. It imposed a harsh security clampdown, cutting virtually all communications.

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Indian troops arrested thousands of anti-India as well as pro-India activists, including some Kashmiri leaders who have historically accepted Indian rule over the region, in the days leading up to and after the revoking of its special status.

Authorities have since eased some restrictions and encouraged students to return to school and businesses to reopen, but Kashmiris have largely stayed indoors to show their defiance of Indian rule.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and both claim it in its entirety.

— Associated Press

Syrian detained after truck rams into cars in Germany: A Syrian man was arrested after he apparently commandeered a truck and drove into a line of cars in a western German town, slightly injuring eight people, prosecutors said, adding that they could not give any information on a possible motive for the incident. The 32-year-old is thought to have pulled a truck driver out of his cab, commandeered the vehicle and then driven a few feet, plowing into seven cars and a van. He was arrested by police officers who happened to be near the scene.

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5 more dead elephants found at Thai waterfall: Wildlife officials in Thailand said they have discovered the carcasses of five more wild elephants downstream from a waterfall where the bodies of six elephants were found last weekend. The carcasses were discovered by a drone being used to investigate how the first six elephants plunged to their deaths at the Haew Narok — Ravine of Hell — waterfall in Khao Yai National Park in northeastern Thailand, said a spokesman for the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. Park officials said the first group of elephants evidently died trying to reach a dead calf.

— From news services

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