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Saturday, June 16

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Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors. "Posted" times are Eastern Time.

Bomber kills 35 on Afghan police academy bus

KABUL (CNN) -- A suicide bomber walked onto a bus waiting to carry Afghan police officers to a police academy and detonated himself in Kabul Sunday, killing at least 35 police officers, according to a Kabul police.

A police guard who witnessed the explosion said the bus was loaded and about to depart on regularly scheduled trip to the police academy when the blast happened.

Ali Shah Paktiawal, a Kabul police official, said the death toll was at least 35. The explosion happened near the office of Kabul's police chief.

--Journalist Tom Coghlan in Kabul contributed to this report. (Posted 2:11 a.m.)

RPG kills NATO soldier on Afghan combat mission

KABUL (CNN) -- A Coalition soldier was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck a vehicle during a combat operation in the Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan Sunday, according to a U.S. military news release.

The nationality of the soldier, who was part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force was not revealed. The military said three Afghan National Army soldiers were injured in the attack. (Posted 1:50 a.m.)

Air Force Identifies Pilot Killed in F-16 Crash

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force identified on Saturday the pilot killed Friday when his U.S. Air Force F-16 crashed shortly after take-off, about 50 miles north of Iraq's capital.

He was Maj. Kevin Sonnenberg, assigned to the 112th Fighter Squadron out of Toledo, Ohio, the Air Force said in a statement. Sonnenberg was deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base, Iraq.

The pilot was taking off on a combat mission "to provide air support to ground forces fighting anti-Iraq forces" when the plane crashed in an accident at 12:27 a.m. Friday, the Air Force said. (Posted 10:30 p.m.)

Prosecutor in Duke lacrosse case disbarred for ethics violations

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNN) -- The prosecutor in the Duke University lacrosse team rape case was disbarred Saturday for unethical conduct, and the chairman of the disciplinary committee blamed "political ambition" for his downfall.

Earlier Saturday, the panel of the North Carolina State Bar concluded that Nifong violated the majority of at least 19 ethics offenses in prosecuting the case against the now-exhonerated players.

The panel said Nifong withheld key DNA evidence from the players' defense attorneys that might have cleared them earlier, and lied to the presiding judge and state bar investigators.

As the three former Duke students and their families looked on, Williamson said Mike Nifong "engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation in violation of rules of professional conduct."

Durham County, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong won re-election last November. He narrowly won the Democratic nomination for another term in office, despite accusations that he used the lacrosse players' scandal for political gain. (Posted 6:24 p.m.)

Lebanese target suspected militants inside refugee camp

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Lebanese forces in two French-made Gazelle helicopters fired four guided air-to-ground missiles at suspected militant positions Saturday inside the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, Lebanese security forces said.

It was the second time guided missiles have been used against the strongholds of Fatah al-Islam militants inside the camp.

Military sources said the Gazelles fired at what is believed to be one of the last strongholds of the extremists after a siege that has lasted about a month.

Several hundred refugees have been evacuated from the camp during intermittent lulls in the fighting, but it is thought that about 2,000 noncombatants remain inside the camp because they are unable or unwilling to leave. (Posted 3:33 p.m.)

Baghdad curfew curbs daily sectarian killings

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two slain, unidentified bodies were found on Baghdad streets Friday and Saturday, a low toll that authorities attribute to the stiff curfew that has been imposed in Baghdad, Iraq's Interior Ministry said.

Such deaths are attributed to sectarian violence. This month alone, 321 unidentified bodies have been found dumped across the capital.

There are usually a higher number of corpses found on a daily basis. But the curfew, imposed after bombers on Wednesday destroyed two minarets at Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra has kept a lid on these killings.

The historic Shiite shrine was also bombed in Feb. 2006, an incident that sparked the widespread sectarian violence that spawned the daily killings in the capital and generated population displacement all over Iraq. (Posted 3:32 p.m.)

N.C. State Bar panel finds former prosecutor in Duke lacrosse case violated ethics rules

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNN) -- A North Carolina State Bar committee found that Durham County, N.C., district attorney Mike Nifong violated a wide range of ethics rules Saturday in his handling of a rape case involving three now-exonerated Duke University lacrosse players.

The chairman of the panel of two men and one woman voted on 19 issues, or potential violations, which were read in court. Afterward, the court went into the penalty phase of the hearing, during which more witnesses were being heard. (posted 3:30 p.m.)

Raid that yielded missing troops' IDs came during a raid

SAMARRA, Iraq (CNN) -- An American battalion commander on Saturday said troops had been searching for a bomb-maker when they raided an insurgent safe house near the Iraqi city of Samarra last week and by chance found the ID cards of two U.S. missing soldiers.

The discovery, made last Saturday but reported today, prompted the troops to go back to the location and do an extensive three-day search for Spec. Alex Jimenez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, missing since a May 12 ambush south of Baghdad. There was no sign of the men.

The development -- which offered new hope that the two were still alive -- also yielded what another top military official called a major intelligence find -- an insurgent "video production center."

Lt. Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, said troops were looking for the person known for making Improvised Explosive Devices at the house, but the dwelling was empty. Four suspected insurgents fled before troops got there, he said. (Posted 3:29 p.m.)

Mideast Quartet worried about Palestinian citizens, aid workers in Gaza

(CNN) -- The Middle East Quartet expressed concern Saturday about the humanitarian needs of Palestinian residents and aid workers caught up in the fierce fighting as Hamas militants seized control of Gaza from Fatah.

Representatives of the Quartet members -- United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia -- issued a statement one day after holding a conference call to discuss the violence.

The Quartet called for an urgent end to the violence, and the "cooperation of all parties to ensure appropriate security and access conditions for the passage of humanitarian goods and personnel both within the Gaza Strip and at key crossing points."

The Quartet said it supported the decisions by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the Cabinet and declare an emergency. (Posted 1:04 p.m.)

Gates visiting senior Iraqi, U.S. officials in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting senior Iraqi and American leaders in Iraq to discuss the bolstered U.S. military efforts to establish security in Baghdad and the performance of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

U.S. officials are pressing Iraqi officials to pass key legislation and make political strides that will help end the violence and promote national unity in a country where the three major groupings -- Sunni Arabs, Shiites, and Kurds -- differ and are at odds on a variety of matters.

The Bush administration, which increased the number of troops in Iraq, has completed the escalation recently with U.S. troop strength in Iraq.

Gates, making his fourth trip to Iraq as secretary of defense, made the visit after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels. He made his comments at a news conference with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. (Posted 11:44 a.m.)

3 Afghans die in suicide car bomb; Afghan killed when troops respond

(CNN) -- At least three Afghan civilians were killed Saturday in a suicide car bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul targeting a four-vehicle convoy of private contractors and military personnel, a NATO spokesman said.

NATO said troops responding to the bombing from NATO's International Security Assistance Force then shot two Afghans, killing one of them.

"Initial indications are that an ISAF soldier's weapon accidentally fired," said Maj. John Thomas, ISAF spokesman. "This is a tragic incident that we regret. Our thoughts are with the family of the dead and injured Afghans."

"We have no reason to believe that the gunfire was intentional. We will fully investigate this incident to determine just what happened," he said. (Posted 11:24 a.m.)

ID cards of two missing U.S. soldiers found in raid near Samarra

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Coalition forces have found identification cards belonging to two missing U.S. soldiers, believed to have been abducted last month south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Saturday in a news release.

"Coalition forces raided a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq safe house near Samarra on June 9 and discovered the identification cards" of Spec. Alex Jimenez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, the release said. The cards were discovered last week.

Computers, video production equipment, rifles and ammunition were also found at the empty house. Samarra is a flashpoint town north of Baghdad and is the site of Al-Askariya Mosque, the Shiite shrine bombed Wednesday.

Fouty and Jimenez, assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, went missing along with Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif., following the May 12 ambush on a military observation post south of Baghdad, near Yusufiya. Four American soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in the attack.

On May 23, the body of Anzack was pulled from the river in Babil province, south of Baghdad. (Posted 10:25 a.m.)

Coalition service member in southern Afghanistan killed in combat

(CNN) -- A U.S.-led coalition service member in Afghanistan was killed on Saturday during "combat operations" in a southern province, the coalition command said in a news release.

The incident took place at 3 p.m. in Uruzgan province, where a Dutch soldier was killed on Friday.

The service member, whose nationality was not disclosed, was killed when a vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Three Afghan National Army soldiers were injured. (Posted 9:48 a.m.)

Sunni mosque attacked in Basra city; al-Sadr calls for July demo to protest Askariya bombing

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An abandoned Sunni mosque was attacked on Saturday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and one of its minarets was destroyed, Basra officials said.

The mosque is called Al-Ashraa Al-Mobasharoon, according to Sadoon al-Obaidi, chief of the Basra province council, and it is located in the Junaina district in central Basra city.

Mohammed al-Waili, Basra's provincial governor, said that the attack occurred between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and that the minaret and part of the mosque were destroyed.

The attack comes in the aftermath of the bombing earlier this week on Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra, the Shiite shrine north of Baghdad. (Posted 9:35 a.m.)

Attack helicopters kill six insurgents in Diyala strike

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. attack helicopters on Saturday killed six insurgents attempting to emplace a roadside bomb in Iraq's Diyala province, the U.S. military said.

The incident occurred near Muqdadiya.

Troops in the choppers, from 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, "observed four insurgents carry a propane tank and begin digging on the side of the road."

Two other insurgents parked a vehicle between the road and the four insurgents "in order to obscure" their activity.

The helicopters were armed with hellfire missiles. The insurgents were killed, the vehicle was destroyed and the bomb was recovered. (Posted 8:05 a.m.)

Pakistani leader, U.S. diplomats meet

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two American diplomats met with Pakistan's president on Saturday and discussed a range of issues, including upcoming elections in Pakistan, the war against terror, and the volatile situation on the Aghan-Pakistan border.

Government sources said Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher met with Musharraf in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.

Central Command chief, Navy Adm. William Fallon, arrived in Islamabad on Friday to hold talks with President Musharraf and he me with Chairman Joint Chief General Ihsan ul Haq on Saturday. (Posted 7:30 a.m.)

Sadr City raid nets key militants; 5 alleged terrorists killed in Sadr City, Falluja, Mosul

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A coalition and Iraqi raid targeting a militant cell in Baghdad's Sadr City on Saturday netted 10 "suspected terrorists" and led to the killing of one militant and the wounding of another, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Four insurgents also died in coalition raids in Falluja and Mosul, another military statement said.

In Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite enclave in Baghdad, two militants, one described as a cell leader and the other as a key facilitator, were among the 10 detained.

"The individuals detained during the raid are believed to be members of the secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," the military said. (Posted 7:30 a.m.)

North Korea confirms funds transfer, invites U.N. nuclear inspectors to watch reactor shutdown

(CNN) -- North Korea has invited a "working level" delegation from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, back into the country to monitor the shutting down of its Yongbyon reactor, according to North Korea's official news agency.

The announcement came just hours after frozen North Korean funds that were thawed as part of an February agreement to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program were transferred out of a bank in Macau, China, to a Russian bank.

Francis Tam Pak-yuen, Macau's secretary of economy and finance, said more than $20 million went from Banco Delta Asia to a North Korean account in a small private Russian bank via the Macau Monetary Authority, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Russian central bank.

The funding, $25 million, was frozen at the bank in late 2005 at the request of the United States, which claimed some of the funding came from illegal activities. As part of a February deal agreed upon during six-party talks aimed at North Korea's denuclearization, however, the funds were freed. (Posted 7:30 a.m.)

Fatah militants take over Hamas-held West Bank buildings

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, stormed into the Palestinian Parliament in Ramallah and other Hamas-controlled government buildings in Nablus Saturday, witnesses said.

Video of the takeover in Nablus showed the Fatah militants planting their flag on the roof of one building as others fired their rifles into the air.

This came a day after Hamas overtook the presidential compound in Gaza City and consolidated its control over Gaza after defeating forces of the rival Fatah faction. (Posted 6:01 a.m.)

Missing Iraqi Tae Kwon Do team found dead

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The decomposed bodies of 13 members of Iraq's Olympic Tae Kwon Do team were found near a highway in the Anbar province Thursday, more than a year after the team disappeared while driving from Baghdad to Jordan, police said.

Fifteen team members were reported missing on May 15, 2006. Ramadi Police Col. Tareq al-Thibawi said a highway patrol found the corpses, with their IDs nearby, near an Anbar province road that connects Ramadi and Falluja.

Iraqi Tae Kwon Do Association President Jamal Abdul Karim was also kidnapped two months later. He is still missing. (Posted 3:49 a.m.)



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