HEISHA, Libya

Rebels issue ultimatum to forces loyal to Gadhafi

Libyan rebels say they’re closing in on Moammar Gadhafi and issued an ultimatum Tuesday to regime loyalists in the fugitive dictator’s hometown of Sirte, his main remaining bastion: Surrender this weekend or face an attack.

The rebels, tightening their grip on Libya after a military blitz, also demanded that Algeria return Gadhafi’s wife and three of his children who fled there Monday. Granting asylum to his family, including daughter Aisha who gave birth in Algeria on Tuesday, was an “enemy act,” said Ahmed al-Darrad, the rebels’ interior minister.

Rebel leaders insisted they are slowly restoring order in the war-scarred capital of Tripoli after a week of fighting, including deploying police and collecting garbage. Reporters touring Tripoli still saw chaotic scenes, including desperate motorists stealing fuel from a gas station.

In the capital’s Souk al Jumma neighborhood, about 200 people pounded on the doors of a bank, demanding that it open.

WASHINGTON

Justice Department replaces three in flawed crackdown

The Justice Department replaced three officials Tuesday who played critical roles in a flawed law enforcement operation aimed at major gun-trafficking networks on the Southwest border.

The department announced that the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. attorney in Arizona had resigned and an administration official said a prosecutor who worked on the operation was reassigned to civil cases.

The operation, known as Fast and Furious, was designed to track small-time gun buyers at several Phoenix-area gun shops up the chain to make cases against major weapons traffickers. It was a response to longstanding criticism of ATF for concentrating on small-time gun violations and failing to attack the kingpins of weapons trafficking.

A congressional investigation of the program has turned up evidence that ATF lost track of many of the more than 2,000 guns linked to the operation.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Chinook casualties make August deadliest month

August has become the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on the Obama administration to bring troops home sooner rather than later.

The 66 U.S. service members killed this month eclipses the previous record of 65 killed in July 2010, according to an Associated Press tally. Nearly half the August deaths occurred when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter Aug. 6, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs.

Violence is being reported across Afghanistan despite the U.S.-led coalition’s drive to rout insurgents from their strongholds in the south.

Though American military officials predicted high casualties this summer as the Taliban try to come back after recent offensives, the grim milestone increases pressure on the Obama administration to withdraw U.S. forces quickly.