- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

NATO soldier killed in combat in east

KABUL — A soldier with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force was killed and three others were wounded in combat in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, the ISAF said.

ISAF had no further details and does not release the nationalities of casualties.

The soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Mehtarlam district, according to Ahmad Jawid Shamsi, cultural adviser to a provincial reconstruction team in Laghman.

INDIA

Death toll climbs as riots spread

JAIPUR — A powerful farming community seeking special government treatment clashed with a competing caste yesterday, killing four persons and taking the death toll to 22 in four days of riots.

Tens of thousands of people have been stranded on highways or at railway stations in the western state of Rajasthan, due to the wave of violent protests by ethnic Gujjars.

Millions of Gujjars, spread across north and western India, want to be declared a Scheduled Tribe, which entitles them to job and college quotas. But Meenas, who oppose the granting of tribal status to the Gujjars, fearing they will lose their own quota slice, clashed yesterday in eastern Rajasthan, officials said.

SRI LANKA

Loitering Tamils sent packing

COLOMBO — Ethnic minority Tamils staying in the capital Colombo “without a valid reason” are being sent back to their villages in a bid to stamp out rebel attacks, Sri Lanka’s police chief said yesterday.

Hundreds of minority Tamils, many from poor rural areas, live in boarding houses in Colombo while they work or search for jobs or seek employment abroad.

Many ethnic Tamils in Colombo complain they are being deliberately targeted by the security forces, detained and searched as the state fights a new chapter of a two-decade civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Officials suspect that Tiger cells have been installed in the capital and are planning to stage attacks.

PAKISTAN

Musharraf backed by military chiefs

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s top army commanders voiced their full support for President Pervez Musharraf yesterday as he struggles with the biggest crisis of his eight-year military rule.

The top brass also took a tough stance on the swelling opposition to Gen. Musharraf’s suspension of the chief justice on March 9, warning of a “malicious campaign against the institutions of state.”

The show of solidarity at a commanders’ meeting in the garrison city of Rawalpindi followed press speculation about splits in the military and about the possible imposition of a state of emergency.

The removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has sparked an increasingly strong pro-democracy movement, as well as violent political clashes in Karachi on May 12 that left more than 40 people dead.

NEPAL

Rhino population hit by poaching

KATMANDU — Rampant poaching during Nepal’s decade-long civil war has decimated the population of endangered one-horned rhinos in a national park in southwest Nepal, a wildlife official said Thursday.

“Around 28 rhinos we thought were in Bardiya national park have disappeared, and there are now only around 31 left,” said Laxmi Manandhar, a senior national conservation officer, following a census of the species.

In 1984, conservation officials moved 83 rhinos to Bardiya from the Chitwan National Park to spread the population. Records show that around 24 of these were poached between 1996 to 2006.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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