London – Hundreds of thousands of teachers, police workers, immigration officers and other government employees walked off the job across Britain on Thursday in a mass strike that could augur a summer of industrial action over deep cuts in public spending.
The picket lines went up in protest of proposed changes to state-sponsored pension plans, which would require public-sector workers to increase their contributions, retire later and collect less than they do now.
While Britain has witnessed several large protests in previous months over the government’s far-reaching austerity program, Thursday’s strike was the first wide-scale job action so far and was being viewed as a bit of a test run for potentially more to come.
Group blamed for hotel attack
Kabul, Afghanistan – The U.S.-led military coalition Thursday blamed a notorious Pakistan-based terrorist group for this week’s spectacular assault on a hilltop Kabul hotel and said it had killed one of the group’s senior commanders.
The International Security Assistance Force didn’t say how it had determined that the Haqqani network was responsible for the siege Tuesday night at the Kabul Inter-Continental Hotel, which left 10 civilians, two policemen and all nine assailants dead.
But it said a senior Haqqani commander, Ismail Khan, was suspected of providing material support for the assault, and that he and several other Haqqani fighters had been killed Wednesday in a “precision airstrike.”
Indictment issued in Beirut killing
Beirut – A United Nations-backed tribunal issued a long-anticipated indictment Thursday in the 2005 truck-bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a sensational killing that stoked sectarian tensions in the region.
The identities of the four suspects accused in the killing were not released, and the indictment remained sealed. But local media reports suggested all four were Lebanese nationals linked to Hezbollah, a militia and political party backed by Iran and Syria.
Both Syria and Hezbollah have denied any involvement in the highly polarized case.