President Bush has approved an “extraordinary, one-time” deployment of about 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan for seven months starting this spring, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. Defense officials continued to urge NATO allies to supply more forces to fill a long-standing shortfall of 7,500 troops that commanders say are needed to improve security.
About 2,200 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will deploy in March to southern Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents have escalated attacks and repeatedly seized territory over the past year.
An additional 1,000 Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif., will take up a mission of training Afghan security forces, primarily the police, and will work under U.S. command.
Friendly fire may have killed soldiers
Three Army soldiers gunned down during a three-hour firefight in the Salahuddin province north of Baghdad last week may have died from friendly fire, military officials said Tuesday.
The three 101st Airborne Division soldiers were part of an Army company that was attacked by as many as 15 insurgents on Jan. 8 after the soldiers discovered several large caches of explosives.
Military officials said the incident is being investigated to determine whether the soldiers were killed by shots from the enemy or by U.S. troops, including members of their unit and aircraft called in for backup later in the battle.
Opposition wins parliament post
In its first victory since last month’s disputed presidential election, Kenya’s political opposition narrowly won the position of parliament speaker Tuesday during a rowdy opening session that underscored the deep divisions in this East African nation.
Lawmakers jeered and hissed at each other, with opposition members accusing President Mwai Kibaki of stealing re-election, while Kibaki supporters blamed opponents for orchestrating post-election violence that’s left hundreds dead.
Opposition leaders continued to charge that Kibaki’s re-election was rigged – a position that many local and international observers share – and vowed to press ahead with three days of nationwide demonstrations starting today.
Gunmen kill three police officers
Gunmen shot and killed three Tijuana police officers in a night of bloody violence just south of the California border, Mexican officials said Tuesday.
In the first attack, Tijuana District Commander Jose de Jesus Arias Rico and his assistant Elbert Escobedo Marquez were shot as they traveled in a private vehicle after finishing their shift late Monday, Baja California prosecutors said in a statement.
Hours later, before dawn on Tuesday, another district commander, Margarito Saldana, was shot dead while he slept in his home, Tijuana municipal police said. The man’s wife was also killed and his 12-year-old daughter died after being taking to a hospital in critical condition.