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Briefly

- - Thursday, April 7, 2011

CHINA

China says artist faces economic charges

BEIJING | China confirmed Thursday that it has detained a renowned artist who had been missing for four days, but it insisted that his case involves unspecified "economic crimes" and not human rights.

Ai Weiwei, an internationally famed avant-garde artist who is also an outspoken government critic, was last seen early Sunday in police custody after he was barred from boarding a flight to Hong Kong at a Beijing airport.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news conference that police were investigating Mr. Ai.

INDIA

Hunger strike focuses on government corruption

NEW DELHI | A 73-year-old Indian activist harnessing the tactics of Mohandas K. Gandhi has galvanized public anger at rampant corruption with a high-profile hunger strike demanding the government adopt immediate reforms.

Anna Hazare's fast, which entered its third day Thursday, has drawn breathless, round-the-clock TV coverage; attracted the support of an array of opposition - and even some ruling-party - politicians; and has sent the government scrambling in search of a compromise.

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide attack kills 6 at police compound

KANDAHAR | Suicide bombers and gunmen stormed a police compound in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, opening fire and setting off explosions in a coordinated attack that killed six members of Afghan security forces.

American Black Hawk helicopters and at least eight U.S. armored vehicles rushed to support dozens of Afghan troops battling the assailants at the three-building police complex in restive Kandahar province.

One suicide bomber pretended to be an ambulance driver and detonated his explosives after wounded officers were placed inside the marked rescue vehicle, Kandahar Police Chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid said.

All three attackers blew themselves up, Chief Mujahid said.

CAMBODIA

Fishermen save tourists off capsized boat

PHNOM PENH | Cambodian police said fishermen rescued 92 foreign tourists whose boat capsized, apparently after drunken passengers started dancing and made the boat unstable.

The tourists hired the boat Thursday afternoon to go to an island near Sihanoukville beach. A police official in Preah Sihanouk province said it overturned soon afterward and four local fishing boats rushed to rescue the passengers and five Cambodian crew members.

Everyone from the boat was rescued and no one was injured.

PAKISTAN

U.S. assessment on militants rejected

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan on Thursday rejected a White House report that criticized its efforts to defeat militants along the Afghan border, another sign of the uneasy nature of the Washington-Islamabad counterterrorism alliance.

The report released this week said that Pakistan has made little progress in the past year in battling Islamist extremists, and that there is "no clear path toward defeating the insurgency" in the country. It also raised concerns about political gridlock and economic problems plaguing the nation.

The U.S. considers Pakistan key to its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda. It has given Pakistan billions in military and other aid over the past decade to stop its soil from being used as a haven for Taliban and other militants fighting in Afghanistan.

In rejecting the criticism, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua noted that Pakistan, which has staged several offensives against insurgents, had sacrificed many lives to end the extremist threat. She also said Pakistan should not be held accountable for Western failings in Afghanistan.

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan remembers 2010 uprising victims

BISHKEK | Memorial ceremonies were held across Kyrgyzstan on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of a bloody uprising that led to the ouster of the Central Asian nation's authoritarian leader.

President Roza Otunbayeva and other senior government representatives laid wreaths at the Ata-Beit cemetery in the capital of Bishkek, where many of the 87 people killed in last year's clashes are buried.

While officials have played up the heroism of the dozens who died during the revolt, some remain uneasy at the lack of noticeable improvements and bemoan a growing ethnic nationalism.

From wire dispatches and staff reports