- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

YEMEN

Rebel leader offers truce with Saudis

SAN’A | The leader of Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels on Monday offered a cease-fire to Saudi Arabia and said his fighters would withdraw from the kingdom’s territory to avoid more civilian casualties.

The announcement by Abdel-Malek al-Hawthi followed three months of border fighting between Shi’ite rebels and Saudi forces who also used their air force to bomb rebel targets.

Mr. al-Hawthi warned that if Saudi Arabia did not end its hostilities in return, the rebels would wage an “open war” on the world’s top oil exporter.

Yemen’s central government has been fighting the rebels on and off since 2004, but the conflict intensified last summer when San’a launched “Operation Scorched Earth” to quash the latest upsurge in violence.

Saudi Arabia stepped into the fray in November when rebels seized some Saudi territory, prompting Riyadh to wage a major military offensive against them.

Meanwhile, a Yemeni security official said Monday that 43 people, including foreigners, are being interrogated for links to the failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

SLOVAKIA

Three ex-Gitmo detainees moved

BRATISLAVA | Three prisoners freed from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived in Slovakia Monday, police said, as Washington aims to empty and close the controversial facility.

The Department of Justice said the identities of the three were being withheld at Slovakia’s request for “security and privacy reasons.”

IRAN

France seeks tougher EU sanctions

BRUSSELS | France’s European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche urged his EU partners Monday to prepare new sanctions against Iran, saying they were needed because of Tehran’s intransigence over its nuclear program.

Three sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions have already been imposed on Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, which lies at the heart of international fears about the nature of its nuclear program.

World powers made up of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany met in New York this month but failed to reach an agreement about new sanctions.

CHINA

Outspoken writer freed from detention

BEIJING | The wife of a Chinese author who leads an outspoken writers’ group said Monday her husband was released after being detained for two weeks.

Zhao Shiying, the secretary-general of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, had been taken into custody by authorities on Jan 11. from his home in southern Shenzhen.

Shi Xiaoli told the Associated Press that her husband was freed Monday afternoon.

Mr. Zhao, whose pen name is Zhao Dagong, had been a signatory to Charter 08, a daring call for reform in China. The manifesto called for expanded political freedoms and the end to Communist Party dominance. Hundreds of people, including some of China’s top intellectuals, have signed it.

NORTH KOREA

Seoul says more executed for escape bids

SEOUL | North Korea is imposing harsher punishments for people trying to flee the country, with the number of executions increasing, South Korea’s spy agency said Monday.

The communist state “has recently toughened the punishment for escapees, with the number of executions on the rise,” a spokesman for the National Intelligence Service told Agence France-Presse.

The spokesman could not confirm a report in a South Korean Internet newspaper that three people had been executed and their families punished for an attempt to flee.

NORWAY

Shots fired at home of Islamist group founder

OSLO | Attackers fired shots into the Oslo apartment of a Kurdish cleric who founded an Iraqi-based militant group, injuring one of his relatives, Norwegian police said.

Mullah Krekar, the 53-year-old founder of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, was not hurt in the shooting early Monday, but his son-in-law was shot in the arm and taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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