KABUL — About 50 civilians, security forces and militants were killed in a wave of violence around Afghanistan, including a bomb that left 14 Afghan travelers dead in one of the country’s most dangerous regions. Five American soldiers died in two attacks using roadside bombs. The attacks Friday and Saturday reached a broad swath of the country, demonstrating the spread of the Taliban insurgency, which had been largely confined to the country’s south and east in the years after the 2001 U.S. invasion. Half of those killed in the most recent attacks were civilians, who often find themselves caught in the grinding war between the Taliban and U.S. and NATO forces.
Iraq: Bombs at Shiite shrine
Two bombs exploded back to back near a Shiite shrine in central Baghdad where worshippers had gathered in prayer Saturday, killing four people and injuring 24, police and hospital officials said. The first bomb went off next to the tomb of a revered ninth century religious figure, Sheik Othman al-Omari. Then a car bomb exploded in a nearby parking lot as crowds were gathering. The blasts damaged the shrine and blew out the windows of neighboring buildings.
Bolivia: Presidential plane
President Evo Morales said Bolivia has decided to buy a presidential plane from Russia after Moscow offered to set up an aircraft maintenance center in the South American nation. Defense Minister Walker San Miguel announced in early August that Bolivia had agreed to purchase an Antonov presidential plane with satellite phone, Internet links and a meeting room from Russia for $30 million. The current presidential plane is U.S.-made Sabre jet from the 1970s.
Britain: Training for Libya
Some of Britain’s most elite soldiers have been training Libyan forces in counterterrorism and surveillance for the past six months, a newspaper said Saturday. The Daily Telegraph said a contingent of between four and 14 men from the Special Air Service, or SAS, were working with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s soldiers in Libya, a country once notorious for its support of terrorism. The paper cited an unidentified SAS source as saying that the training was seen as part of the deal to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.
Mexico: Five bodies found
Police have found the bodies of five men dumped in a landfill near the Mexican resort city of Acapulco. The Guerrero state Public Safety Department said the men had been shot to death and police officers found a note with the bodies signed “The boss of bosses.” A statement issued Saturday by the department said investigators also found at least 50 bullet casings and duct tape at the scene.
Sierra Leone: Boat capsizes
Police said they have arrested two attendants who survived after an overloaded wooden boat capsized off the coast of Sierra Leone, killing at least 30. At least 221 people, including many schoolchildren, are still missing. Local police said Saturday that police are also looking for the owner of the boat, which was traveling from the village of Shenge to Tombo when it sank Wednesday with nearly 300 passengers aboard. A maritime official said Friday the boat was designed to hold 60 people and didn’t carry lifejackets.
California: Firefighter honors
Two veteran firefighters who died trying to save the lives of dozens trapped in the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history were remembered as heroes Saturday in a memorial service at Dodger Stadium attended by Vice President Joe Biden and others. Capt. Tedmund “Ted” Hall and firefighter specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones were killed Aug. 30 when their truck plunged off a mountain road as they were trying to find an escape route for dozens of inmate-firefighters whose camp had become overrun by flames. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recounted how the firefighters, with little concern for their own safety, drove directly toward the flames looking for a way out as the fire came bearing down on dozens of prison-inmate firefighters huddled in a dining hall.
North Dakota: Wrong baby
A hospital in northwestern North Dakota is investigating how the mother of a newborn went home with the wrong baby. Officials with the Mercy Medical Center in Williston said the mistake was discovered within an hour and the mother was quickly reunited with her own child. A hospital would not release details about how the mix-up happened or what families were involved. She said hospital employees are disheartened by the incident.
From Herald news services