- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010

KOREA

N. Korea claims South fired at its border

SEOUL | North Korea accused South Korea of opening fire in the military buffer zone that separates the two countries.

The official Korean Central News Agency said late Sunday that South Korean forces committed a “grave armed provocation” during the afternoon by firing toward a civil police post on the northern side of the demilitarized zone.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff denied the North’s claim.

North Korea regularly accuses the South of stoking tensions, which Seoul denies.

The two sides remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Tensions occasionally turn bloody. The two sides have engaged in three deadly naval skirmishes since 1999, the most recent in November last year.

EGYPT

Court: Release 16 of Muslim Brotherhood

CAIRO | An Egyptian criminal court on Sunday ordered the release of 16 senior members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group who were detained in February.

Egyptian authorities had accused the senior members of trying to set up training camps to stage attacks in Egypt.

“The court has issued its decision, but we are awaiting the execution of the verdict … and this is not guaranteed because this is a political case,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s attorney, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, told Reuters.

Among the released members are deputy leader Mahmoud Ezzat and Essam al-Erian, spokesman for the group and member of its governing body. Abdel-Rahman al-Bir and Mohi Hamed, also governing body members, were ordered released.

RUSSIA

Blasts derail train in Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia | Two powerful explosions derailed a cargo train Sunday in the violence-plagued Russian province of Dagestan, but no one was injured, officials said. The blasts capped a week of daily attacks that have killed at least 55 people.

A blast equivalent to 11 pounds of TNT exploded early Sunday near the town of Izberbash, derailing the locomotive and eight cars, transport police spokesman Akhmed Magomayev said. Another, less powerful blast aimed at killing rescuers detonated nearby shortly after the first explosion, he said.

The explosions “continued the pattern” of terrorist attacks against symbols of authority, which included the November bombing of a high-speed train that killed 26 people near St. Petersburg, Mr. Magomayev said.

Two suicide bombers killed 40 rush-hour commuters on the Moscow metro last week, shocking Muscovites as terrorism returned to the capital for the first time since 2004. On Sunday, the Emergency Ministry raised the number injured in the subway bombings to 121.

Dagestan is the epicenter of almost daily violence that has plagued Russia’s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region for years following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya.

VENEZUELA

Russia to help Venezuela nuke bid

CARACAS | Russia has agreed to help Venezuela set up a nuclear power plant for the “post-oil” era, President Hugo Chavez said as the two countries deepened military, energy and financial ties.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on his first visit to Latin America’s biggest oil producer, also vowed to help Venezuela launch its own space industry, and the two countries inked a multimillion-dollar oil deal.

“We’re not going to build an atomic bomb, but we want to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” Mr. Chavez said.

He was speaking one year after he signed an agreement to that end with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during a visit to Moscow.

Mr. Putin was received with military honors Friday at Caracas international airport by Mr. Chavez, a leftist firebrand who has signed a dozen military agreements with Moscow since 2005 worth some $4.4 billion.

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