Syrian opposition chief blames car bombings that killed 55 on al-Qaida in Iraq
TOKYO (AP) — The head of Syria’s main opposition group said Friday the twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus appeared to be the work of al-Qaida forces he said were linked to the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Paris-based Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said the cease-fire brokered by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan was “in crisis” because it lacks teeth.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Ghalioun said there would be “no peaceful solution” to the violence in Syria “unless a threat of force against those who don’t implement the plan.”
In Damascus, workers were paving over two massive craters caused by the bombs that struck a Syrian military compound Thursday. The attack, which also wounded more than 370 people, was the deadliest against a regime target since the Syrian uprising began 14 months ago.
Security forces armed with Kalashnikov rifles were guarding the compound Friday.
West Bank village fears Israeli barrier will destroy ancient farming landscape
BATTIR, West Bank (AP) — One of the last Palestinian farming villages that still uses irrigation systems from Roman times says its ancient way of life is in danger as Israel prepares to lay down its West Bank separation barrier.
With construction possibly beginning in the coming weeks, the people of Battir hope a legal battle, backed by recent U.N. recognition of the village’s agricultural practices, will help change Israel’s mind.
Battir’s 6,000 inhabitants live in limestone-faced houses built into a hillside southwest of Jerusalem. On the lands around the homes, stone retaining walls have transformed scrubby hills into orderly terraces of olive trees and vegetable gardens.
Terraces are a common Palestinian farming technique in the hilly West Bank terrain. But in Battir, they are unique for their extent — stretching uninterrupted over nearly 2,000 hectares (800 acres) — and for the centuries-old network of irrigation canals that direct springwater over the stepped hills.
This combination prompted the U.N.’s cultural agency, UNESCO, to award the village last year with a $15,000 prize for “Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes.”
Authorities: Mississippi kidnap-slaying suspect shoots, kills himself; 2 missing girls rescued
GUNTOWN, Miss. (AP) — Authorities who tracked down a fugitive accused of kidnapping two girls and killing their mother and older sister said they repeatedly ordered him to surrender, but he instead pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head.
Adam Mayes, 35, was later pronounced dead and the two sisters, Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, were rescued Thursday, ending a nearly two-week search that began when Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters disappeared from their Tennessee home April 27.
After getting a tip, law enforcement officers were sent to search a densely wooded area west of Mayes’ home in Guntown, Miss., said Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis, Tenn., office.
At 6:50 p.m. Thursday, an officer saw Alexandria Bain in an area about 100 yards behind a church, Ford said. Officers shouted commands for Mayes to show his hands, Ford said. But Mayes pulled a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and shot himself in the head, Ford said.
Law enforcement officers moved in to rescue the two girls, who were lying on the ground nearby. Ford said they looked like they had been in the woods for two or three days and were suffering from exposure, dehydration and poison ivy, but were otherwise safe.