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In brief: Indictment issued in Hariri slaying

Tue., Jan. 18, 2011, midnight

BEIRUT – A U.N. tribunal filed the first indictment Monday in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, touching off a process many fear could ignite new bloodshed nearly six years after the massive truck bombing along Beirut’s waterfront.

The contents of the draft indictment were not revealed and may not become public for weeks as Belgian judge Daniel Fransen decides whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

The indictment, confirmed by the international court’s headquarters in The Hague, is the latest turn in a deepening political crisis in Lebanon, where Hezbollah toppled the Western-backed government last week in a dispute over the tribunal.

The court is widely expected to accuse members of Hezbollah of being involved in the killing, something the Shiite militant group has insisted it will not accept.

Five test missiles miss targets

JIUPENG, Taiwan – President Ma Ying-jeou presided today over the unusually public test firing of 19 surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, but about a quarter missed their targets, earning his dismay and raising new questions about Taiwan’s readiness to defend itself against Chinese attack.

The exercise followed last week’s successful test flight of China’s next generation J-20 stealth aircraft, a system expected to further widen its growing edge over Taiwan’s own equipment-starved air force.

Five of the missiles failed to hit their targets, including one RIM-7M Sparrow, which cascaded harmlessly into the South China Sea less than 30 seconds after launch. Other missiles tested included Sky Bow IIs – which have a range of 125 miles – MIM-23 Hawks and FIM-92 Stingers.

Army arrives for mudslide victims

TERESOPOLIS, Brazil – Brazil’s army on Monday sent 700 soldiers to help throw a lifeline to desperate neighborhoods that have been cut off from food, water or help in recovering bodies since mudslides killed at least 665 people.

Troops have already set up at least one bridge in the mountain vacation city of Teresopolis, officials said, but at least 10 main highways remain blocked in the rugged area north of Rio where the slides hit, hampering efforts to move in the heavy machinery needed to begin massive cleanup efforts and eventually dig out bodies stuck under tons of mud and debris.

The troops plan to set up mobile bridges that can span 200 feet and are robust enough to support the hundreds of pieces of big equipment needed in cleanup and recovery efforts.

Days of heavy rains unleashed tons of earth, rock and raging torrents of water down steep, forested mountainsides Wednesday.

Rescuers had yet to reach about 20 neighborhoods, though a break in rains allowed about 12 helicopters to begin entry.


 

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