NAIROBI, Kenya

Peace Corps halts Kenya operations because of violence

The U.S. Peace Corps said yesterday it had temporarily suspended its operations in Kenya following weeks of violence over a disputed election.

While no Peace Corps volunteers have been targeted in the violence that has engulfed Kenya since the Dec. 27 elections, the Washington-based group has decided to pull out its remaining 58 volunteers, said spokeswoman Amanda Beck. Another 144 volunteers were sent home in January after the violence first erupted, she said.

BAGHDAD

At least 3 Iraqis killed in U.S. raid north of Baghdad

At least three Iraqis were killed and one child was injured after American soldiers stormed a tiny one-room house north of Baghdad and opened fire, U.S. and Iraqi officials said yesterday.

Iraqi police, relatives and neighbors said a couple and their 19-year-old son were shot to death in their beds late Monday. But the U.S. military said soldiers came under fire and killed two suspected members of a terrorist cell in self-defense. It said it did not know who shot the woman or the child.

The U.S. military reported only three dead, but Iraqi police said two young girls were wounded and one died Tuesday at a hospital.

It was the second time in as many days that the U.S. military conceded involvement in the death of Iraqi civilians.

WASHINGTON

Senate members blast Bush’s $3.1 trillion budget plan

Democrats on two Senate panels tossed brickbats at President Bush’s budget on yesterday, blasting it for loading debt onto the fiscal ledger and making clear that they would ignore his proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and White House budget chief Jim Nussle kicked off the hearing with a combative exchange over the administration’s fiscal performance and its failure to realistically budget for the war in Iraq.

“The debt has done nothing under this president’s watch but skyrocket,” Conrad said.

WASHINGTON

Intelligence chief says al-Qaida’s reach is expanding

Al-Qaida, increasingly shut down in Iraq, is establishing cells in other countries as Osama bin Laden’s organization uses a “safe haven” in Pakistan’s tribal region to train for attacks in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa and the United States, the U.S. intelligence chief said yesterday.

“Al-Qaida remains the pre-eminent threat against the United States,” Mike McConnell told a Senate hearing more than six years after the 9/11 attacks.

He said that fewer than 100 al-Qaida terrorists have moved from Iraq to establish cells in other countries as the U.S. military clamps down on their activities, and “they may deploy resources to mount attacks outside the country.”

McConnell said while the level of violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since last year, it is going to be years before Iraq is stable.

“It is not going to be over in a year. It’s going to be a long time to bring it to closure,” he said.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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