- - Sunday, September 26, 2010

ISRAEL

Jewish activists sail for Gaza from Cyprus

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus | A boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the U.S. and Britain set sail on Sunday for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s naval blockade there.

Richard Kuper, an organizer with the U.K. group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said one goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

Mr. Kuper said the boat, which set sail from northern Cyprus flying a British flag, won’t resist if Israeli authorities try to stop it.

Organizer Alison Prager said from the boat before it left Cyprus that although many Jews have been on previous “blockade-busting trips” to Gaza, this was the first time Jewish groups have banded together to send a boat of their own.

The trip comes nearly four months after Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships, including the Mavi Marmara, killing nine activists.

PAKISTAN

Suspected missile hits kill 7 militants

DERA ISMAIL KHAN | Suspected U.S. drone aircraft carried out two missile strikes against a house and a vehicle near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing seven reputed militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The U.S. is now suspected of conducting 19 such attacks this month — the most intense barrage since the strikes began in 2004.

Most have targeted Datta Khel, part of the North Waziristan tribal area that is dominated by militants who regularly stage attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In the first strike Sunday, a drone fired three missiles at a house in Lwara Mandi village in Datta Khel, killing three suspected militants, said the intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Minutes later, a drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the same area, killing four suspected militants, the officials said.

IRAQ

Blast near Fallujah kills 4 Iraqi police

BAGHDAD | A car packed with explosives blew up Sunday near the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, killing four policemen in the latest sign that insurgents could be trying to win back old strongholds, Iraqi officials said. Attacks elsewhere in the country killed at least four others.

Fallujah has been the scene of several recent battles between security forces and suspected Sunni extremists. Two weeks ago, at least seven civilians were killed in a shootout between militants and Iraqi and U.S. commandos during a failed attempt to capture a suspected leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Police and hospital officials in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, said the dead in Sunday’s bombing included a police lieutenant colonel. A policeman and two civilians were also injured, the officials said.

In Baghdad, militants killed a government worker in a highway ambush, and a Culture Ministry employee died of wounds in a separate shooting in a string of attacks targeting public servants, police and hospital officials said.

CHINA

Medvedev: China-Russia ties ‘sealed by blood’

DALIAN | Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in northeast China for an official visit Sunday, saying that Moscow’s ties with Beijing were “sealed by blood” spilled fighting a common enemy.

Mr. Medvedev kicked off a three-day visit to the world’s second-biggest economy by visiting the former Russian city of Dalian and paying respects to fallen Russian soldiers who died defending the port from Japanese invaders.

“Friendship with China is Russia’s strategic choice. It’s a choice that was sealed by blood years ago,” Mr. Medvedev told Russian and Chinese war veterans.

“The friendship between Russian and Chinese peoples cemented by the military events will be indestructible and do good for our future generations.”

CHINA

China claims progress on human rights

BEIJING | China said Sunday it has made progress on human rights, pointing to improved living standards, but an international rights group quickly described the government’s assessment as unrealistic.

Human Rights Watch said the government failed to mention that since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has gotten tougher on freedom of speech, has stepped up restrictions on the media and Internet and cracked down on lawyers and activists.

In a report released Sunday titled “Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2009,” the government highlighted its $586 billion economic-stimulus package that helped the country bounce back from the global financial crisis.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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