- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2010

NORTH KOREA

American detained at China border

SEOUL | North Korea said Thursday it has detained an American man for illegally entering the country from China, the second arrest of a U.S. citizen it has reported in the past several weeks.

The man was detained Monday and is under investigation, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch. It did not identify him by name or provide other details.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Thursday that the United States has asked Swedish diplomats to press for details on the reports. He said there has been no confirmation of a second detention, but that the U.S. takes the reports seriously and urges the North to allow Swedish diplomats to visit any detained American citizens.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it had no information, and the embassy in Seoul had no comment.

MALAYSIA

10 suspects held, tied to Christmas bomber

KUALA LUMPUR | Ten terror suspects arrested in Malaysia purportedly have ties to a Nigerian suspected in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner, a news report said Thursday.

Malaysia’s home minister announced the arrests Wednesday, saying they were mainly foreigners linked to an international terrorist network.

They include four men from Syria, two from Nigeria and one each from Yemen and Jordan, said Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, head of a rights group that assists people held under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.

They were among 50 people arrested by police on Jan. 21 while attending a weekly Islamic class with a Syrian university lecturer at a home near Kuala Lumpur, Syed Ibrahim said. The others were later released.

A Jordanian official confirmed that Malaysian authorities informed Jordan that one of its citizens was arrested.

SRI LANKA

Re-elected president to dissolve Parliament

COLOMBO | Re-elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa will dissolve Parliament shortly and call a legislative election, his office said Thursday, in a move that could enable him to reshape the unwieldily coalition now backing him.

Mr. Rajapaksa won a resounding victory Tuesday over his former army commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, in the Indian Ocean island’s first nationwide election since the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers.

Mr. Rajapaksa had sought a mandate to endorse his plans to develop Sri Lanka by exploiting its geographically strategic position astride air and sea lanes, rebuilding infrastructure and encouraging foreign investment and local productivity.

PAKISTAN

NATO trucks hit near Karachi

KARACHI | Militants staged a rare attack in southern Pakistan against trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan Thursday, wounding three people in the latest violence to beset the country’s largest city, police said.

The militants attacked the trucks with guns and grenades just after midnight as they traveled on a main highway on the outskirts of Karachi, police official Mohammed Ali said.

Pakistan’s financial hub has a long history of political and sectarian violence but has largely been spared attacks by Taliban fighters waging war against the Pakistani government and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

But there are concerns that the Taliban may be expanding its fight to target the city, a worry for the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, which ships up to 75 percent of its supplies to the landlocked country through the port in Karachi.

Also Thursday, a bomb attached to a bicycle exploded, killing three people and wounding a dozen others in an area of Baluchistan province where nationalist insurgents have been active, police said.

INDIA

High food prices fuel violent protests

NEW DELHI | Violence erupted against rising food prices in one of India’s poorest states Thursday, putting more political pressure on the government to focus on inflation rather than growth and financial reform.

Mobs stoned trains and jammed roads with burning tires in the eastern Bihar state, trying to enforce a daylong shutdown.

Shops, offices and schools remained closed Thursday, when official data showed that food prices in Asia’s third-largest economy rose an annual 17.4 percent in mid-January.

At least 12 passengers were injured when angry crowds stoned a train in Hajipur town, while thousands marched in the street in different parts of the state asking shops to close.

Food prices have soared because last year’s monsoon rains, which irrigate 60 percent of Indian farms, were the worst in 37 years.

BANGLADESH

5 hanged for 1975 assassination of leader

DHAKA | Bangladesh executed five former military officers Thursday for their role in the 1975 massacre of the country’s independence leader and several of his relatives and aides at a Dhaka home during a coup, authorities said.

The five men, who were all at least in their 60s, had been convicted in 1998 of Sheik Mujibur Rahman’s slaying and had final appeals of their sentences rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Government officials said the hangings would deter further military takeovers in a country that has seen about two dozen coups or coup attempts since 1971.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of the independence hero, was accompanied by several Cabinet ministers at her Dhaka home overnight and she later issued a statement asking the people of Bangladesh to show restraint after the executions.

Rahman had led Bangladesh in its war to become independent from Pakistan in 1971 and went on to become the new country’s first leader. But he was targeted in the Aug. 15, 1975, military coup, which culminated in the slayings of Rahman and 16 other people at his Dhaka residence.

PHILIPPINES

Government meets with rebels in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia | The Philippine government and Muslim separatists held two days of talks in Malaysia as they work toward a peace deal to end decades of conflict, officials said Thursday.

Malaysian facilitator Othman Razak said negotiators from the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest of the country’s Muslim rebel groups, met in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday and Thursday.

After a 16-month impasse, the two sides last month resumed negotiations toward ending a separatist rebellion in the southern island of Mindanao that has left more than 150,000 people dead.

Mr. Othman said the parties would meet again on Feb. 18-19.

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