Pakistanis killed on supply route

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Militants in Pakistan launched rockets at two trucks returning from delivering fuel to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, killing three people along a critical and increasingly dangerous supply route, a government official said yesterday.

Militants struck the oil tankers on Friday as they traveled from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass, said Fazal Mehmood, a government official in the lawless Pakistani tribal area for which the route is named.

The three Pakistanis killed in the attack included a passenger and both drivers, who were taking their vehicles back to Pakistan without the paramilitary escorts that often accompany the convoys to Afghanistan, Mehmood said. Militants have stepped up attacks on the Khyber supply line in an apparent bid to hamstring U.S. and NATO forces.

- AP

Lebanon picks envoy to Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon chose its first ambassador to Syria yesterday, the latest step toward normalizing relations since the neighboring countries agreed this year to establish diplomatic ties.

Information Minister Tarek Mitri made the announcement after the cabinet approved the nominee, but would not disclose the name until Syria approved the choice. Lebanese TV stations reported that the position will go to Michel Khoury, currently Lebanon's ambassador to Cyprus.

Relations between the long-feuding neighbors, which both gained independence from France in the 1940s, reached a turning point in August when they agreed to establish ties and demarcate their contentious border. The agreement marked a final break in Syria's longtime dominance over its smaller neighbor.

- AP

Attack on base in Mali kills 20

BAMAKO, Mali - Suspected Tuareg rebels attacked an army outpost in the country's remote north early yesterday, setting off a battle in which 20 people were killed, the Ministry of Defense said.

The attack on the military base occurred in the town of Nampala, about 300 miles northeast of the capital, Bamako, the ministry said in a statement. The territory is the traditional homeland of Tuareg nomads who inhabit the vast desert that stretches across northern Africa.

The dead included nine security personnel and 11 assailants, with many more injured, said the statement, which was signed by Col. Idrissa Traore, deputy director of communication for Mali's defense ministry.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Some homeless people

in Italy will be savoring beluga caviar this Christmas, thanks to officials who seized 88 pounds of the delicacy from smugglers. The caviar, which is banned in Italy out of concern for the dwindling sturgeon population, has been given to charities to be served alongside traditional foods, officials said yesterday.

Thailand's prime minister

unveiled his cabinet yesterday. The announcement came after King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed Abhisit Vejjajiva, whom lawmakers voted in as prime minister on Monday.