Deal leaves most forces in Wardak
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s president on Wednesday relented in his demand for all U.S. special operations forces to withdraw from a strategic province east of the capital, agreeing to a compromise calling for the pullout of one team implicated in abuse allegations that the Americans have rejected.
The dispute underscores the fragile negotiations under way as Hamid Karzai seeks to redefine and expand control of his country and the United States and its allies prepare to end their combat missions by the end of 2014.
Karzai last month ordered all U.S. special operations forces out after local villagers accused Afghan troops working with the Americans there of torture, illegal detentions and other abuses.
The U.S.-led coalition denied the allegations. But NATO said Karzai and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the U.S. commander of all allied forces, had agreed Wednesday to remove a team of commandos and turn over security to government forces in Wardak’s Nirkh district, the center of the allegations.
Cyprus has 4 days to craft new plan
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus has four days to agree on a new plan to raise funds to avoid bankruptcy after the European Central Bank warned that it would pull the plug on the country’s banks at the start of next week if no bailout deal is finalized.
Facing the ultimatum, the Cypriot government was trying today to drum up support for a new proposal that will please lawmakers in Parliament as well as the country’s potential international creditors.
The “Plan B” was being hashed out after lawmakers soundly defeated an earlier proposal to seize up to 10 percent of all domestic deposits to finance a rescue of the country.
Cypriot government officials have said the new plan includes a smaller deposit grab to ease the pain on small savers, restructuring the country’s troubled banks and raising money from domestic sources.
Car bomb kills 13 at refugee camp
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A car packed with explosives blew up inside a refugee camp in northwestern Pakistan today as hundreds of people lined up to get food, killing 13 and wounding 25, officials said.
The Jalozai camp, which lies on the outskirts of the main northwest city of Peshawar, hosts Pakistanis who have been displaced by fighting between the army and the Taliban in the country’s northwest.
Most of the people hit by the attack were from the Bajur and Khyber tribal areas along the Afghan border, said police officer Mohammad Zahid.
Indian Parliament passes rape law
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Parliament has passed a sweeping new law to protect women against sexual violence in response to a brutal December gang rape in New Delhi.
The bill was passed today by the upper house of Parliament, two days after the lower house approved it.
The new law criminalizes stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment.
It also provides for a death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death.
A government panel set up after the December gang rape recommended sweeping changes to India’s rape laws. The Cabinet passed an ordinance in response, but Parliament had to pass a new law by next month before the ordinance expired.