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News Briefs

Fifth Person Dies In Afghan Car Bomb Attack


An Afghan teenager, injured in the suicide car bomb attack on German peacekeepers here on Saturday, died from his injuries on Sunday, bringing to five the number killed in the attack, an Afghan police official said.

Ehsanullah, 17, was walking along a road on his way to school and was injured when the car bomber set off an explosion while overtaking a German military bus. The teenager was the only Afghan casualty in the attack, apart from the bomber, according to Abdul Rauf Taj, the police chief of District 9 in eastern Kabul, where the attack occurred.

Four German soldiers in the bus were killed and 31 wounded in the worst attack on the international peacekeeping force in the 18 months it has been deployed in Kabul and the surrounding area. Most of those injured were flown to hospitals in Germany on Sunday, said Lt. Col. Thomas Loebbering of Germany, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

The soldiers had completed a six-month tour of duty and were on their way to the Kabul airport to fly home when the attack occurred, he said. None of the 31 wounded was in life-threatening condition, he said.

Officials of both the peacekeeping force and the Afghan government concluded on Sunday that the attack was a suicide bombing by one man driving a yellow-and-white taxi. Afghan police officers found the license plate in the wreckage and used it to trace the car, Taj said. It was an old Russian Lada and had been sold two weeks ago to an Afghan man from the eastern town of Jalalabad. The former owner, a taxi driver, had been detained and was cooperating with police, Taj said.

OPEC To Maintain Output


This was supposed to be a tough season for the world’s largest exporters of crude oil: They expected demand for petroleum to look weak, Iraq’s return to the oil market after the war to be strong, and prices, as a consequence, to fall.

But none of that has come to pass. So when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, oil industry analysts said, it is likely to do nothing about current production levels.

“OPEC gets a free pass at this meeting” from making a decision, said Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York.

During the war, oil traders thought that Iraqi exports would resume by late May or early June. Now, those expectations are likely to be delayed at least a month.

“Iraq is coming back slower and weaker than originally thought,” Goldstein said. “Prices are hovering around $30 a barrel, and we’re going into seasons of stronger demand in the third and fourth quarters.”

Britain To Delay Euro Adoption


Since its launch as an international currency nearly 18 months ago, the euro has worked remarkably well.

It’s worth more compared to the dollar than it used to be. It simplifies travel for tourists visiting the 12 European countries that use it. And it has saved businesses the sometimes considerable costs of converting one currency into another.

But on Monday, Great Britain’s chief financial official will announce that the country is still not ready to adopt the euro -- at least not yet.

Gordon Brown, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, will announce that his evaluation does not show Britain’s economy will benefit from changing to the euro now.

The changeover could still come in a couple of years, if leaks to the British press are to be believed -- and if the British public can be persuaded to part with the pound sterling. Brown is expected to say he does not rule out holding a referendum on the euro before the next national election, which is anticipated in 2005.

Supporters of the adopting the euro as the national currency say the change will attract more investment in Britain and will also, by integrating the country more completely in the European Union, enable Britain to exert strong leadership within the organization.

Senator Holds Up Promotions


Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is blocking the promotions of more than 850 Air Force officers, including young pilots who fought in Iraq and the general nominated to bail out the scandal-plagued Air Force Academy, in a rare clash between the Pentagon and a senior Republican lawmaker.

Craig’s price to free the frozen promotions now awaiting final Senate approval? Four C-130 cargo planes for the Idaho Air National Guard.

Pentagon officials express outrage that for more than a month Craig has single-handedly delayed the careers of hundreds of officers and stymied important Air Force business for a handful of parochial planes. They are vowing not to give in to his pressure. Calling the move blackmail, one senior defense official said, “If we say yes to this, Katie bar the door.” The official, like others contacted for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he feared retribution from the senator.

But Craig contends that the Air Force has reneged on a promise made seven years ago to station a squadron of eight C-130s at Gowen Field, an Air National Guard base in Boise, his spokesman said. Currently, there are only four C-130s based there. “This is a problem created by the Air Force that can be easily solved by the Air Force,” said Will Hart, the spokesman.