- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

NATO, local forces kill 10 Taliban

KABUL — Afghan and NATO forces killed 10 Taliban fighters yesterday in southern Helmand province, bordering Pakistan, police said.

The area where the encounter occurred, Sangin, has in the past seen fierce fighting between British troops and the Taliban.

Last week, the Taliban overran the town of Musa Qala in the province, breaking a much-vaunted but much-criticized truce deal in what some analysts say could herald the start of a major Taliban spring offensive.

PAKISTAN

Cleric defiant in mosque row

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani Muslim cleric at the center of a row over illegally built mosques yesterday vowed resistance if authorities tried to evict female religious students occupying a public library as part of a protest.

The row has pitted authorities in the capital, Islamabad, against radical clerics and their followers at Red Mosque, well known for criticism of the government and anti-U.S. and pro-Taliban sentiments.

Female students at the mosque’s seminary, the Syeda Hifza madrassa, occupied a public library next to the mosque last month to protest against the demolition of another mosque that authorities said had been built illegally on state land.

INDIA

Rebels kill five in northeast state

GUWAHATI — Suspected militants yesterday fatally shot five persons, including government officials and security personnel, in an ambush in India’s restive northeastern state of Manipur, police said.

The attack took place in Ukhrul district, some 50 miles northeast of the state capital Imphal, when heavily armed militants strategically positioned on a hillock fired at a convoy, police said.

Another person was injured in the attack in the remote area near the Burmese border.

Weekly notes …

A town in Sri Lanka’s embattled east shut down yesterday as a sign of respect for a Hindu priest gunned down four days after he welcomed President Mahinda Rajapakse to a former guerrilla stronghold. Shops closed and transport was halted in Valachchenai to mourn Selliah Parameswar, who was killed Wednesday. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam denied killing the priest. … A move by a tribal council in an Indian state to reward tribeswomen who bear more than a dozen children with cash has infuriated feminists and health officials. The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council in Meghalaya state, worried that “non-tribals” may outnumber the Khasi community in coming years, wants tribeswomen to produce more babies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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