World News

Posted: August 08, 2007

4 GIs, British soldier killed

as Iraq death rate climbs

BAGHDAD - Four more U.S. troops and a British soldier have died in attacks, military officials said yesterday, in a possible sign that extremists are regrouping after a drop in GI deaths last month.

The spate of recent American deaths - 19 so far in August - seems certain to intensify the debate over U.S. progress to calm Iraq and gain ground against militants ahead of a key September report to Congress.

U.S. deaths had dropped slightly in July to 79 - the lowest monthly tally since 70 were killed in November. Before July, more than 100 American forces died each month in the April-to-June period as the U.S. military struck out at insurgents on dangerous streets and cities across Iraq.

The spike in deaths comes as the overall number of U.S. troops in Iraq has temporarily peaked at its all-time high - nearly 162,000 - as new units arrive to replace those on the way out, the Pentagon said.

_ In Washington, sources said the Army had made its recruitment goal of 9,750 for July. And officials are offering a new $20,000 bonus to recruits who sign up by the end of next month.

Canada won't file charges

in Afghan friendly-fire death

OTTAWA - No charges will be filed against a U.S. Special Forces machine gunner in the friendly fire death of a Canadian soldier last year in Afghanistan, Canadian military officials said .

A Canadian report released yesterday into the March 2006 death of Pvt. Robert Costall found that he was killed during a Taliban attack of "unprecedented intensity." U.S. reports had found that Vermont National Guard 1st Sgt. John Thomas Stone also was killed by the friendly fire.

A U.S. Army investigator had earlier recommended that no charges be filed against the machine gunner in the two deaths.

Britain will take 5 Gitmo

prisoners off U.S. hands

LONDON - Britain's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked the United States yesterday to free five British residents from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay - a policy reversal that was welcomed by the Bush administration.

The United States has been working to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo with an eye toward closing the controversial detention center.

In some cases where a detainee is likely to be mistreated in his native country, the Bush administration has been appealing to nations with respected human rights records to take the Guantanamo Bay detainees it does not intend to try in U.S. military courts.

U.S. officials said yesterday that Brown's decision to ask for the transfer of non-British nationals was a positive step in broader efforts to cut back the number of inmates and eventually shut Guantanamo.

Georgia on Russia's mind? Dud missile seems to say yes

TBILISI, Georgia - Georgia's president accused Russia yesterday of trying to sow panic and influence internal politics in its small southern neighbor after a one-ton missile dropped by a bomber landed near a house. Russia denied its aircraft had fired the missile, which did not explode.

Georgia said two Russian Su-24 jets entered Georgia's airspace over the Gori region, about 35 miles northwest of the capital late Monday, and fired a missile that landed 25 yards from a house on the edge of Shavshvebi village.

"This was a provocation aimed only at one thing, at disrupting the peace in Georgia, which would cause panic in society and ultimately change the political course of the country," President Mikhail Saakashvili said at the site.

Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky, a spokesman for Russia's air force, denied the accusations. "Russian aircraft haven't conducted any flights over that area and haven't violated Georgia's airspace," he said.

Brazil bank-robbery gang

blows up safe, gets $10M

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Thieves yesterday used dynamite to blow up a safe and steal nearly $10 million from the office of an armed-transport company in Sao Paulo.

A group of 10 men wearing hoods and carrying assault rifles entered the office of Prosegur Brasil through a neighboring building in the early morning, said Sao Paulo state public-safety-department spokeswoman Fernanda Borges.

The thieves cut padlocks and used explosives to open holes in the walls and break into the safe, she said.

Nobody was hurt in the robbery, which lasted nine minutes and was captured by security cameras. No arrests were immediately made. *

Surgery erases pencil

BERLIN - A woman who had a pencil lodged in her head for 55 years after a childhood

accident has finally had most of it removed, which should end her chronic headaches and nosebleeds, her doctor said yesterday.

Margaret Wegner, 59, was 4 when she fell while carrying the 3.15-inch pencil, which went through her cheek and into her brain.

At the time, the technology did not exist to safely remove the pencil, so Wegner had to live with it.

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