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Briefs (left)

Suicide Bomber Kills 10 Near
NATO Base in Afghanistan

By Abdul Waheed Wafa

A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up Tuesday at the entrance to a NATO base in the southeastern province of Khost, killing as many as 10 people, officials said.

The attack occurred as Afghan laborers were lining up for security checks at the pedestrian entrance of the base known as Camp Salerno. The bomber was attempting to enter the base, NATO said, but detonated the vest when he reached the search point.

Arsalah Jamal, the Afghan provincial governor of Khost, visited the scene after the bombing and confirmed the deaths of eight civilian laborers and two Afghan security guards, though a NATO statement put the toll at six Afghan civilians and two policemen.

“I confirm 10 people, including two Afghan security guards, were killed in a suicide attack at the entrance of the military base,” Jamal said.

He said 14 others had been wounded in the attack, all Afghan civilian daily workers for the military base. NATO said only five were wounded.

China Confirms Space Test;
Denies Intent to Intimidate

By Joseph Kahn

The Chinese government publicly confirmed Tuesday that it had conducted a successful test of a new anti-satellite weapon but said it had no intention of participating in a “space race.”

The confirmation was made at a regular Foreign Ministry news briefing, 12 days after China used a medium-range ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites 535 miles above Earth. Several countries, including the United States, Japan, Britain and Australia, pressed Beijing to explain the test, apparently the first successful destruction of a satellite in orbit in more than 20 years.

Until now, Chinese officials declined to confirm or deny that it had occurred, despite news reports last week that quoted Bush administration officials describing the exercise in detail. Liu Jianchao, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, issued the first official comment.

“This test was not directed at any country and does not constitute a threat to any country,” he said. “What needs to be stressed is that China has always advocated the peaceful use of space, opposes the weaponization of space and an arms race in space. China has never participated and will never participate in any arms race in outer space.”

Ethiopia Forces Who Helped Install
Government Are Leaving Somalia

By Jeffrey Gettleman

The Ethiopian troops who helped install Somalia’s fledging government in Mogadishu, its capital, began to pull out Tuesday, officials from each country said.

Many Somalis say they now fear that a power vacuum will form and that the country will slip back into the lawlessness that has dominated it for much of the past 16 years.

“Why can’t they stay?” asked Muhammad Omar Ali, a milkman in Mogadishu, as he watched truckloads of Ethiopians chug away. “They’re leaving us to the bandits.”

Ethiopia played a pivotal role in rearranging Somalia’s internal politics last month when it sent tanks, jet fighters and thousands of troops to vanquish an increasingly aggressive Islamist movement that ruled most of south-central Somalia. After routing the Islamist army, the Ethiopians paved the way for Somalia’s transitional government, which until then was weak and divided, to take control of the country.