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World in brief: Korean War slaughters probed

The American colonel, troubled by what he was hearing, tried to stall at first. But the declassified record shows he finally told his South Korean counterpart it “would be permitted” to machine-gun 3,500 political prisoners, to keep them from joining approaching enemy forces.

In the early days of the Korean War, other American officers observed, photographed and confidentially reported on such wholesale executions by their South Korean ally, a secretive slaughter believed to have killed 100,000 or more leftists and supposed sympathizers, usually without charge or trial, in a few weeks in mid-1950.

Extensive archival research by the Associated Press has found no indication Far East commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur took action to stem the summary mass killing, knowledge of which reached top levels of the Pentagon and State Department in Washington, where it was classified “secret” and filed away.

Now, a half-century later, the South Korean government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is investigating what happened in that summer of terror, a political bloodbath largely hidden from history, unlike the communist invaders’ executions of southern rightists, which were publicized and denounced.

In the now-declassified record at the U.S. National Archives and other repositories, the Korean investigators will find an ambivalent U.S. attitude in 1950 – at times hands-off, at times disapproving.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghan officials: U.S. killed civilians

Afghan officials said fighter aircraft battling militants accidentally killed up to 27 Afghans walking to a wedding ceremony in eastern Afghanistan early Sunday, the second military attack in three days with reports of civilian deaths.

The U.S. military blamed the claims on militant propaganda and said its missiles only struck insurgents.

President Hamid Karzai had already ordered an investigation into allegations that missiles from U.S. helicopters struck civilians on Friday in eastern Afghanistan, though the Defense Ministry said Sunday that attack on the Nuristan-Kunar border killed or wounded 20 militants.

U.S. Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Sunday that the two incidents were being investigated. He noted that militants hide among and intimidate civilians.

U.S. spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry said the military has repeatedly seen militants falsely claim civilians were killed.


Suicide bomber kills at least 15

A suicide attacker detonated explosives near a police station in Pakistan’s capital on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The blast occurred in a kiosk in front of the police station, said Naeem Iqbal, a police spokesman. Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said that based on witness accounts, the attacker ran into the police.

“This a very tragic and highly condemnable,” he said.

Iqbal said at least 15 people died, most apparently police. The casualty medical officer at Federal Government Services Hospital, Imtiaz Khan, said at least 36 wounded people were admitted there, nearly all security officials, and that two had died while 12 were in critical condition.

The blast came as thousands of Islamists were gathered not far away to mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly military crackdown on a radical mosque. It was not clear whether the events were linked.

Security arrangements made for the gathering at the mosque were comprehensive, he said, and “nothing happened to the participants of the gathering.”


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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

UPDATED: 10:03 p.m.

North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site ahead of a new round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States. There was no clear indication in the North’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.