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In brief: Copter crashes in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – A NATO helicopter crashed today in western Afghanistan, injuring two troops serving with the U.S.-led military coalition, NATO said.

No other information was disclosed about the crash in the relatively peaceful west. The crash is under investigation.

Separately, NATO reported that a service member was killed Tuesday during an insurgent attack in the south. The person’s nationality has not yet been released.

Israel’s ruling coalition crumbles

JERUSALEM – Israel’s much-touted ruling grand coalition broke apart Tuesday after the centrist Kadima party quit less than three months after it surprised the nation by joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

The fracture, prompted by a dispute over a bill to draft religious students into the military, does not bring down Netanyahu’s government, but it probably will trigger early elections.

During a Kadima faction meeting, party leader Shaul Mofaz blamed Netanyahu for the split.

“It was not easy to enter the government,” he told members. “I paid a public price for it. But there’s no escape from the need to break away.”

Mofaz was seeking to pass a strict, enforceable law that would ensure that most ultra-Orthodox young people would be required to serve in the military like other Jewish 18-year-olds. Netanyahu is seeking a more gradual phase-in that would have addressed the concerns of politically powerful religious conservatives.

U.S. offers condolences

NEW DELHI – The U.S. Embassy in India expressed its condolences Tuesday after an American refueling ship in the Persian Gulf opened fire on a fishing boat, killing one Indian and wounding three others. India has called for an investigation by the United Arab Emirates, in whose waters the shooting took place.

In a statement, the embassy said the United States was launching its own investigation, but repeated previous U.S. suggestions that the use of force was justified given that the small motorized vessel was approaching the Navy fuel resupply ship Rappahannock on Monday at a rapid pace and failed to heed several warnings to turn away. The Navy has said the signals were sent by radio, loudspeakers and flashing lights.


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