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Briefly: Asia

- - Thursday, December 2, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai says NATO killed innocent man

KABUL | President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that coalition forces killed an innocent former local government official in southern Afghanistan, but NATO insisted that the man was shot after threatening the troops with a grenade.

It was the latest in a series of disputes between the U.S.-led force and Mr. Karzai's government, which has denounced night raids, saying they result in too many civilian deaths and disrupt the daily lives of the Afghan people.

A statement released by Mr. Karzai's office said the president called Helmand provincial Gov. Gulab Mangul after learning that Haji Ibrahim, the former chief of Gereshk district, had been killed Monday.

The governor confirmed the incident and told Mr. Karzai that Mr. Ibrahim and the six relatives who were arrested during the nighttime operation were not insurgents, the statement from Mr. Karzai's office said.

CHINA

Nobel honor keeps Norway ties strained

BEIJING | China said Thursday that its ties with Norway continue to be strained after the Oslo-based Nobel Committee awarded this year's peace prize to a jailed Chinese dissident.

The Chinese government's anger has been on public display since October, when the Nobel Committee selected activist Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion for co-authoring Charter 08, an appeal for democratic reforms in communist China.

The committee operates independently, but a furious China holds Norway responsible.

Beijing has launched a propaganda campaign in the state-controlled media to demonize Mr. Liu as a criminal and to portray the Nobel award as a political tool used by the West to undermine China.

THAILAND

Police crack down on passport fakes

BANGKOK | Suspects arrested in Spain and Thailand in connection with an international ring that provided forged passports to terrorists may have passed fake documents to the perpetrators of the 2004 Madrid bombings, Thai authorities said Thursday.

The arrests of seven people in Spain and three in Thailand this week represent a major achievement in dismantling one of the world's most notorious forgery rings - one known for its skill in providing fake documents to criminal and terrorism enterprises - said Jaime Fa, a police attache at the Spanish Embassy in Bangkok.

Muhammad Athar Butt, 39, and Zeeshan Ehsan Butt, 27, both of Pakistan; and Sirikanya Kitbamrung, 25, of Thailand were arrested at a checkpoint Tuesday while trying to enter Laos. They could face charges of receiving stolen passports from networks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe via regular mail and then altering the passports for clients.

TAIWAN

Ex-president begins serving graft sentence

TAIPEI | Former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian was moved Thursday from a jail to a penitentiary to formally begin serving a 19-year sentence, after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction on wide-ranging graft charges.

Chen, 60, looking relaxed and alert, was taken by a police van from the suburban Tucheng Detention Facility to Taipei Penitentiary in neighboring Taoyuan county.

The pro-independence leader, who broke the 50-year monopoly on power of the rival Nationalist Party in 2000, was convicted in 2009 on charges of embezzling $3.15 million from a special presidential fund, receiving bribes worth at least $9 million and laundering some of the money through Swiss bank accounts.