- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

INDONESIA

Latest quake triggers tsunami alerts

JAKARTA — The second powerful earthquake in as many days shook western Indonesia today, collapsing buildings in a coastal city and triggering tsunami alerts around the region.

The latest quake was also felt in Malaysia and in Singapore, where tall buildings swayed. It triggered at least one strong aftershock. Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for Indonesia, Australia, India and Sri Lanka.

A strong 8.4-magnitude earthquake shook Southeast Asia yesterday, collapsing buildings, killing at least five persons and injuring dozens in Indonesia. Nations as far away as Africa put coastal areas on alert, but only a small tsunami hit Sumatra, the island ravaged by the 2004 tsunami disaster.

PAKISTAN

Islamists attempt to destroy Buddha

MINGORA — Islamist militants in Pakistan tried to blow up a 7th-century Buddhist rock carving in an attack reminiscent of the destruction of ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan six years ago, local officials said yesterday.

A group of masked men tried to destroy the carving on Tuesday, said provincial archaeology department official Aqleem Khan. There was, however, no damage to the image of the sitting Buddha carved into a 130-foot-high rock in mountains 12 miles north of Mingora, a town in the scenic Swat valley, northwest of the capital, Islamabad.

Buddhism spread through northern India and flourished in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam. Both countries are now predominantly Muslim.

AUSTRIA

Three arrested over online threat

VIENNA — Two men and a woman with suspected contacts to al Qaeda were arrested yesterday in connection with an online threat by Islamic militants against Austria and Germany in March, officials said.

Interior Minister Guenther Platter said the three, aged between 20 and 26, were all second-generation Austrian citizens with Arab origins. Two of them were a couple.

In a Web statement that surfaced in March, Islamist militants threatened to attack Germany and Austria unless the two nations broke ranks with the United States and withdrew their personnel from Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN

Opposition leader barred from Karachi

ISLAMABAD — Allies of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf blocked opposition leader Imran Khan from entering Karachi, the country’s biggest city, yesterday, just days after the government sent former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif back into exile.

Mr. Khan, a former cricket star, flew into Karachi only for police to halt him at the airport and send him back to the capital, saying his presence could cause unrest.

Mr. Khan blamed the Muttahida Quami Movement, the party that controls the government of Sindh province and supports Gen. Musharraf at the federal level.

RUSSIA

First Harvard bell back in monastery

MOSCOW — A massive Russian church bell that hung for decades at Harvard University was returned to a Moscow monastery yesterday, nearly 80 years after it and 17 others were rescued from Josef Stalin’s religious purges by a U.S. industrialist.

Hundreds of believers flocked to the Danilovsky Monastery, home to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, for the ceremony to bless the bronze bell, officially known as the Everyday Bell. The remaining 17 bells will be shipped to Russia next year.

American industrialist Charles R. Crane bought the 18 brass bells from the Soviet government in 1930, saving them from being melted down in Stalin’s purges that saw thousands of monks executed and churches and monasteries destroyed or turned into prisons, orphanages or animal barns.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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