WASHINGTON

FEMA was warned early of shortages

Former FEMA director Michael Brown was warned weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit that his agency’s backlogged computer systems could delay supplies and put personnel at risk during an emergency, according to an audit released yesterday.

An internal review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s information-sharing system shows it was overwhelmed during the 2004 hurricane season. The audit was released a day after Brown vehemently defended FEMA for the government’s dismal response to Katrina, instead blaming state and local officials for poor planning and chaos during the Aug. 29 storm and subsequent flooding.

The review by Homeland Security Department acting Inspector General Richard L. Skinner examined FEMA’s response to four major hurricanes and a tropical storm that hit Florida and the Gulf Coast in August and September 2004. It noted FEMA’s mission during disasters as rapid response and coordinating efforts among federal, state and local authorities.

 

KABUL, Afghanistan

Suicide attack kills 9 soldiers, wounds 28

A uniformed man on a motorbike detonated a bomb yesterday outside an Afghan army training center where soldiers were waiting to take buses home, killing nine people and wounding 28 in a rare suicide attack.

The blast broke 10 days of relative calm after landmark parliamentary elections and underscored the terrorist threat still facing Afghanistan as it slowly moves toward democracy. It also added to fears that insurgents here are copying tactics used in Iraq.

A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility and threatened more suicide attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces. His account of the bombing differed from those of witnesses, however, and his claims could not immediately be verified.

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zaher Azimi said authorities had yet to identify the bomber but blamed “international terrorists.” He did not elaborate. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack in “the strongest terms” as he ordered authorities to investigate.

 

BAGHDAD

Country’s first female suicide bomber kills 6

A woman disguised in a man’s robes and headdress slipped into a line of army recruits yesterday and detonated explosives strapped to her body, killing at least six recruits and wounding 35 – the first known suicide attack by a woman in Iraq’s insurgency.

The attack in Tal Afar near the Syrian border appeared aimed at showing that militants could still strike in a town where U.S. and Iraqi offensives drove out insurgents only two weeks ago. A female suicide bomber may have been chosen because she could get through checkpoints – at which women are rarely searched – then don her disguise to join the line of men, Iraqi officials said.

 

Bush warns of upsurge of violence in Iraq

President Bush warned yesterday that there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq before next month’s voting, but said the terrorists will fail. “Our troops are ready for them,” he said.

Bush’s remarks in the Rose Garden came a day after Iraqi and U.S. forces announced they had killed Abdullah Abu Azzam, the No. 2 al-Qaida leader in Iraq, during a weekend raid in Baghdad.

“This guy’s a brutal killer,” Bush said.

Al-Qaida in Iraq issued an Internet statement denying that Abu Azzam was its deputy leader, calling him “one of al-Qaida’s many soldiers” and “the leader of one its battalions operating in Baghdad.”

 

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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