- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban adds day for deal on Koreans

KABUL — A purported Taliban spokesman said yesterday that the hard-line militia had extended by 24 hours the deadline for the Afghan government to trade captured militants for 23 South Korean hostages.

Afghan elders leading the hostage negotiations met with kidnappers and reported that the Koreans were healthy, said Khwaja Mohammad Sidiqi, the police chief of Qarabagh district in Ghazni district, where the Koreans were kidnapped Thursday.

He said the delegation made progress in their talks, but the Afghan military said Afghan and U.S. troops had “surrounded” the region in case the government decides the military should move in.

PAKISTAN

Waziristan fighting kills 19 extremists

MIRAN SHAH — Islamic militants detonated bombs close to military convoys and attacked government positions in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, sparking gunfights that left 19 insurgents dead, government officials said yesterday.

The fighting was the latest in North Waziristan since militants announced last week the termination of a peace agreement with the government, after a deadly military raid on a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital.

Since the July 10 raid on Islamabad’s Red Mosque, suicide attacks and shootings have killed at least 289 persons in Pakistan, mostly in the volatile northwest.

WEST BANK

Parliament fails to approve Cabinet

RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had to abandon his attempt to present his government for a confidence vote yesterday when his own supporters boycotted the session over a dispute with Hamas.

Citing the continued deadlock, President Mahmoud Abbas plans to issue decrees this week calling for early parliamentary and presidential elections over objections from Hamas, which won parliamentary polls last year.

Yesterday’s boycott was led by Fatah and other factions that support Mr. Fayyad but dispute the legality of Islamist Hamas’ call for the session to be held.

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