KABUL, Afghanistan

Agency confirms death of militant leader’s son

The son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani network was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said Sunday, providing the first public confirmation of rumors that have been swirling for days about the key member of a militant group the U.S. considers one of the most dangerous in the region.

The Taliban rejected reports of Badruddin Haqqani’s death, however, saying that he was alive and well in Afghanistan.

Haqqani’s death would be a blow to the organization founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group, which has ties to both the Taliban and al-Qaida, has been blamed for a series of high-profile attacks and kidnappings in Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Tahiri, spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security intelligence agency, said Haqqani was killed last week in an airstrike in Pakistan. He provided no further details.

U.S. officials have declined comment on the reports.

But Tahiri’s account is similar to one provided Saturday by a senior Taliban leader who said Haqqani was killed in a drone strike. It also hews closely to a version provided by Pakistani officials who said Saturday that they were 90 percent sure the militant commander was killed in a missile attack Tuesday in Pakistan.


Economy minister: Greece’s time request ‘not doable’

Germany’s economy minister has rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement economic reforms, saying Sunday that Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors.

Philipp Roesler’s comments to ZDF public television came after a visit by Greece’s premier to Berlin on Friday, during which Antonis Samaras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Greece needs “time to breathe” before it can make all the budget cuts and reforms demanded as part of its $300 billion bailout packages.

“What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that’s not doable,” said Roesler, who is also the vice chancellor in Merkel’s coalition government. He added that all parties had agreed that additional funds for Greece weren’t up for debate.

Roesler, the leader of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party, caused an outcry in Greece last month by suggesting that the idea of the country leaving the 17-nation eurozone had “lost its horror.”

Those comments appeared to put him at odds with Merkel.

But his latest views on the need for Greece to stick to the agreed time plan for reforms were echoed by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who told a newspaper in comments published Sunday that “more time generally means more money and that quickly means a new (bailout) program.”


Taliban inmate to testify on rights to prayer in prison

An American-born Taliban fighter imprisoned in Indiana will try to convince a federal judge on Monday that his religious freedom trumps security concerns in prison.

Muslim convert John Walker Lindh, 31, who was charged with supporting terrorists after he was caught by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and later pleaded guilty to lesser charges, claims his religious rights are being violated because the federal prison in Terre Haute deprives him of daily group prayer.

Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and the Hanbali school to which Lindh belongs requires group prayer if it is possible. But inmates in the Communications Management Unit are allowed to pray together only once a week except during Ramadan.

At other times, they must pray in their individual cells, which, Lindh says, is inappropriate because he is forced to kneel close to his toilet.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing Lindh, contends the policy violates a federal law barring the government from restricting religious activities without showing a compelling need.

— From news service reports