May 9, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: 17 die in battle in ministry compound

From Wire Reports

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Six policemen, including three high-ranking officers, and 11 prisoners were killed in a six-hour gunbattle Saturday evening inside the heavily fortified compound of the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, police said Sunday.

Police said the detainees had all confessed to membership in the Islamic State of Iraq, the Iraqi extremist group linked to al-Qaida, and to a number of assaults, including the attack on Lady of Salvation Church in October 2010, in which more than 50 people were killed.

Appearing before reporters Sunday, four ministry officials gave a confusing and incomplete account of the incident.

The incident began at 10 p.m. Saturday, the officials said.

“While one of the employees was trying to go to the W.C. (toilet), one of the insurgents was able to grab his pistol and started shooting,” said Maj. Gen. Dheya Hussein, general director of the anti-terrorism directorate.

He said Brig. Gen. Muyad al-Salih, the director general of investigations in Baghdad’s Karrada district, ran in the direction of the battle and was killed by one of the insurgents. Three prisoners then seized a government vehicle and tried to break out of the compound but were shot to death by a guard in a security tower. Neither Hussein nor his colleagues could explain the security lapse that allowed the insurgents to obtain weapons to fight police for six hours.

One official said the battle occurred in the counterterrorism offices. It ended only when a SWAT team arrived and surrounded the insurgents on one floor of the building. After failing to persuade the insurgents to surrender, the SWAT team killed them.

Taliban release video of Canadian

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s Taliban have released a video of a missing Canadian and threaten to put him on trial for espionage if Canada does not meet their demands.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid did not list the demands. He said the Canadian government was aware of what the Taliban want. In an email sent to news organizations, Mujahid said the video he released was proof the Taliban were holding the Canadian.

Canadian Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Monette said Sunday the department is aware of the video and that Canadian officials were working with Afghan authorities to help the man’s family secure his “safe release.”

Deadly border dispute still unresolved

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Southeast Asian leaders failed to find a solution to a deadly border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia that could undermine peace and stability in the region as it pushes for economic integration.

The prime ministers of the two feuding nations held talks Sunday – mediated by Indonesia’s president – as part of efforts to hammer out a lasting cease-fire. But neither seemed in any mood to back down.

“There’s no conclusion,” Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told reporters after the rare, three-way talks. “We’ll need further talks after this.”

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