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News Briefs

U.S. to Release 506 Iraqi Detainees


The U.S.-led government is expected to announce on Wednesday that it will release 506 detainees in Iraq who still pose “some risk” but who have not engaged in violence against occupation forces, senior military and government officials said Tuesday.

“We’re talking about low-level detainees, what we call minor violators, who have not been involved in organizing or executing any violence against the coalition or Iraqis,” a senior military official said.

The detainees will be released after they vow not to commit violent acts. A prominent member of the community must promise to take responsibility for the behavior of each detainee released. The first 100 will be released on Thursday, and the rest in the next several weeks, the officials said.

The officials said many of these detainees were being held because of their association with activities or people in the insurgency against the occupation, rather than because of any direct involvement.

Chinese Officials Destroying Market Animals in SARS Battle


The Xinyuan wild game market reeks of animal waste and death. Trucks arrive daily with animals jammed into cages -- cats, dogs, pigeons, boars, ostriches, even rats. The people who work in the market live in cages, too. They sleep above their shops, in tiny lofts with bars for walls.

When they awoke on Tuesday they ran squarely into the local government’s new war against SARS. Animal control officers in masks and smocks confiscated 148 animals, including civets, which some scientists believe are SARS carriers. The animals, relatives of the mongoose that would have ended up as a stew on local menus, earned no reprieve.

“All of them will be killed today,” said Lian Junhang, a local forestry bureau official overseeing the roundup at Xinyuan.

The resolve of officials here in Guangdong province to slaughter an estimated 10,000 civets and other animals as a preventative measure against SARS was on vivid display Tuesday. Even as international health officials urged caution, Chinese media reported that local health workers in protective suits and goggles were plunging caged civets into pools of water and drowning them.

Bomb Blasts Kill 17 in Afghanistan


At least 17 people were killed and dozens injured, many of them children, in a double bomb blast in the southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, local officials said. The bombing came just one day after the country triumphantly adopted a new constitution.

The governor of Kandahar, Yousuf Pashtun, blamed the Taliban movement for the explosions, which took place in the middle of the day within minutes of each other. “They are terrorists, they are coming from Pakistan and they are killing innocent people,” he said in comments to Kandahar Television.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as an “act of cruelty and barbarism” and said it would only strengthen his resolve to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

A statement from his office said that at least eight children were among the dead.

The first bomb exploded inside a gas cylinder and was far less damaging, injuring no one. The second was far bigger and went off 10 to 15 minutes later in the same place, wounding the many people who had gathered following the first blast, said the head of the police investigation department in Kandahar, Muhammad Nabi Majrooh.