Iraqi politician kills 2 American soldiers

MADAIN, Iraq — A U.S.-allied Iraqi council member sprayed American troops with gunfire Monday, killing two soldiers and wounding three and an interpreter, Iraqi authorities and witnesses said. The attack occurred minutes after they emerged from a weekly joint meeting on reconstruction in this volatile town southeast of Baghdad. Raed Mahmoud Ajil, a former high school principal in his mid-40s, was known as a respected city council member and devoted educator who'd recently returned to Iraq after completing his master's degree in India, stunned colleagues said. U.S. troops shot and killed him at the scene. Ajil's colleagues said they could think of no motive for the deadly rampage, which is thought to be the first incident of a U.S.-allied Iraqi politician carrying out such an attack.

Nuclear inspectors visit Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — U.N. experts began probing allegations Monday that Syria has a hidden nuclear program, as Damascus imposed strict secrecy on the visit, warning the U.N. not to drag it into a drawn-out investigation like the standoff with Iran. The U.N. inspectors' main focus is the Al Kibar facility — a building in the remote eastern desert that Israeli jets destroyed in September and that American intelligence officials have claimed was a nearly completed plutonium-producing reactor.


Human rights groups blast U.S. over loans meant for Haiti

An array of human-rights groups has strongly criticized the United States government for withholding money meant to provide clean drinking water to Haiti as leverage for political change in the country. The activists, in a report released Monday, called the delay of $54 million in international loans to the Haitian government ”one of the most egregious examples of malfeasance by the United States in recent years.“ The loans from the Inter-American Development Bank were intended to revamp the water and sanitation systems in Les Cayes and Port-de-Paix, two Haitian towns in dire need of the money to ­improve their infrastructure.

Herald-Leader wire services