france's afghan role to continue
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and his top ministers paid homage in Afghanistan Wednesday to the 10 French soldiers killed in a Taliban ambush, as the political debate about his Afghan policy sharpened at home.
The deaths, in an attack that began Monday night, were the most for France in any military attack since the bombing of a French barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed 58 French paratroopers, and they have consumed France. They are dominating media coverage and raising new questions about Sarkozy's commitment to fight beside the United States and other allies in Afghanistan.
But Sarkozy vowed Wednesday that French troops would stick it out in Afghanistan. "We have to be here," he said while visiting Kabul, adding that he had no regrets about sending 700 reinforcements to the French contingent. "If it had to be done again, I would do it."
France bans TV shows aimed at under-3 set
France's broadcast authority has banned French channels from marketing TV shows to children under 3, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age. The ruling also ordered warning messages for parents on foreign baby channels that are broadcast in France — such as Baby TV, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and BabyFirstTV, which has ties to News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment.
The High Audiovisual Council, in a ruling published Wednesday, said it wanted to "protect children under 3 from the effects of television." France's minister for culture and communication, Christine Albanel, issued a "cry of alarm" to parents in June about channels dedicated 24 hours a day to baby-targeted programming. She urged parents not to use them to help their children get to sleep.
12 killed in second day of Algerian bombings
Twin car bombs rocked a hotel and military headquarters in Algeria, killing 12 people Wednesday, a day after a suicide bombing nearby killed 43. The new bombings were the sixth major terrorist action this month in the North African nation.
No group has claimed responsibility for the recent spate of killings, including the two remote-controlled car bombs that struck the city of Bouira on Wednesday. But all six occurred in an area east of the capital where militants from an Algerian offshoot of al-Qaida are suspected to operate.
Violence in the gas- and oil-rich U.S. ally has surged since the GSPC — a homegrown extremist group that led a deadly insurgency in the 1990s — joined Osama bin Laden's network in 2006 and took the name Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.
President mourned; burial set for Monday
Zambians wept on the streets of the capital, Parliament suspended its session and a doctors' strike was called off as the southern African nation mourned its president Wednesday. The Zambian flag flew at half staff throughout the country, and radio and television stations replaced normal programs with messages of condolence after President Levy Mwanawasa died Tuesday in a French military hospital, where had been treated since suffering a stroke in June.
"President Mwanawasa was a true servant of the people who served this country with dignity and honor," Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president of Zambia, said in a message that was aired. Mwanawasa's body was expected to be returned to Lusaka, the capital, on Sunday and be buried Monday.