- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

CAMBODIA

Troop buildup at disputed border

PREAH VIHEAR | Cambodia and Thailand escalated their troop buildup Thursday in disputed territory near a historical border temple despite their agreement to hold talks next week to defuse tensions, a Cambodian general said.

Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said Thailand has more than 400 troops near the Preah Vihear temple, up from about 200 the day before, and Cambodia has about 800, up from 380.

Cambodia says the Thai troops crossed the border into Cambodian territory Tuesday in renewed tensions over land near the Cambodian temple. Thailand maintains it is protecting its sovereignty and ensuring any protests by Thais near the temple remain orderly, though a senior Thai military official acknowledged Wednesday that the troops were on “disputed” ground.

The border around Preah Vihear has never been fully demarcated.

The long-standing conflict over the territory was recently revived by Thai anti-government protesters and came to a head after Cambodia’s application for World Heritage Site status for the temple was granted last week with the endorsement of Thailand’s government.

PAKISTAN

Polio resurfaces in militants’ region

ISLAMABAD | An eight-month-old girl tested positive for polio in an area where militants campaigned against vaccination, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.

The girl, identified only as Tanzila, comes from Ali Gram village in the Swat Valley where militants had “beaten up” anti-polio vaccination teams, said Dr. Khalid Nawaz, a WHO official supervising local health authorities.

Dr. Nawaz said the last confirmed case of the disease in Swat was in 2003. Tanzila is infected with type 1 polio, the most dangerous and contagious strain, he said.

Threats to health workers and fighting between government security forces and militants have disrupted vaccinations in about half of the Swat Valley since September, he said.

A Swat-based pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, reportedly opposes polio vaccination, saying it is a Western conspiracy to render Muslims infertile.

Polio was eliminated in all but about a dozen countries following a global vaccination campaign, according to WHO. The disease remains endemic in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

INDIA

Bangladesh urged to help fight terror

NEW DELHI | India asked neighboring Bangladesh on Thursday for help in combating terrorism following several deadly attacks that New Delhi blamed on Bangladesh-based Islamic militants.

Fighting terrorism topped the agenda at a meeting in New Delhi between Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Touhid Hossain.

India has blamed several recent bomb attacks on the Bangladesh-based Islamic group Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami. However, Bangladesh denied any involvement by its citizens.

India shares a porous 2,500-mile border with Bangladesh, and Indian officials suspect that about 20 million Bangladeshis are in India illegally.

INDONESIA

Bird-flu toll climbs to 111

BELENDUNG | An Indonesian cargo worker died of bird flu, relatives confirmed Thursday, raising the unofficial toll in the world’s hardest-hit nation to 111 in three years.

The government recently started delaying announcements about bird-flu fatalities, sometimes by several weeks. But health workers speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed the tests came back positive.

Asnawi Sandri, a 38-year-old father of two, died in the hospital July 10, days after he came down with symptoms of the disease, including high fever, coughing and breathing difficulties, said Abdul Kadir, his brother-in-law.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 243 people worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization, which only updates country tolls after governments make official announcements.

The WHO has reported 110 bird flu human deaths from H5N1 in Indonesia since 2005.

JAPAN

Court backs damages in noise

TOKYO | A court ordered Japan’s government Thursday to increase compensation to hundreds of residents suffering from ear-throbbing jet noise produced by a U.S. military base in Tokyo’s suburbs, a court official said.

The Tokyo High Court upheld appeals by most of the 257 residents, saying they deserved more than $1.8 million collectively, up from the $1.5 million compensation ordered by a lower court in 2003, a court spokeswoman said.

Judge Hidetoshi Somiya, however, rejected their demand for suspension of early-morning and late-night flights from the Yokota Air Base, and for advance compensation for future noise pollution.

Residents near Yokota Air Base have filed five other lawsuits since the 1970s. Thursday’s ruling is in line with the earlier rulings, which have awarded compensation but rejected flight suspensions.

INDIA

Jailed lawmakers hold key to vote

NEW DELHI | Six Indian lawmakers jailed for crimes ranging from extortion to murder are being temporarily freed to participate in a tight no-confidence vote that will decide the fate of the government and a nuclear deal with the United States.

The Indian constitution allows convicted lawmakers to participate in a parliamentary vote. Parties think the vote could be very close, which means every ballot in the 543-member Indian Parliament on Tuesday could be crucial.

If the government loses, early elections will be called and a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, over which the government’s communist allies withdrew support, could be buried.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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