- - Thursday, July 28, 2011

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan Taliban launch twin attacks

KABUL | Two suicide bombers and militants armed with heavy weapons launched twin attacks targeting the Afghan government and its allies Thursday, killing at least 19 people in the latest outburst of violence weakening the government’s grip on the Taliban’s southern heartland.

Insurgents have been assassinating Afghan officials and attacking government installations to demonstrate they remain a potent force despite pressure from the U.S.-led military coalition.

They are also out to show Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration is too weak to provide security as foreign troops begin to withdraw from the war.

The hours-long battle in Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, began around noon when a suicide attacker in a car laden with explosives rammed a wall of the governor’s compound, provincial spokesman Milad Ahmad Mudasir said.

Other insurgents entered the governor’s compound through the damaged wall and fought Afghan security forces.

At roughly the same time, a second suicide bomber targeted the nearby compound of Matiullah Khan, a power broker in Uruzgan who runs a company that provides security for NATO supply convoys and assists coalition forces.

He blew up an explosives-packed car outside a radio and television center attached to the compound to gain access to Mr. Khan’s property, Mr. Mudasir said. Mr. Khan was unharmed.

SOUTH KOREA

Rains may have shifted S. Korean land mines

SEOUL | South Korea’s military warned Thursday that buried land mines may have slid down mountains eroded by flooding rains this week, as the death toll from the torrential downpours rose to at least 57.

Massive rainfall since Tuesday has severely disrupted life in Seoul - which has more than 10 million people - and surrounding areas, submerging streets filled with idled cars, flooding subway stations and forcing businesses to shut.

The rain stopped or decreased Thursday, but more was forecast until Friday morning.

At least 57 people have died due to rain-induced landslides, flooding and accidents related to the precipitation, officials said. At least 12 people were confirmed missing.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said that Wednesday’s rainfall in Seoul of 12 inches was the biggest one-day amount in the capital since 1998 and the third highest ever.

At a mountain in Seoul where a deadly slide hit Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said mines placed there in the 1960s could have shifted.

Soldiers with metal detectors were waiting to search for the mines, said Yoon Yong-sam, a spokesman for the air force, which had planted them around an air defense base on the mountain.

LAOS

Lao forests feeding Vietnam industry

BANGKOK | Despite an export ban, Vietnamese companies are smuggling logs from the once-rich forests of Laos to feed a billion-dollar wood industry that turns timber into furniture for export to the Europe and the United States, an environmental group said Thursday.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency alleged that the Vietnamese military was heavily involved in bribing Lao officials and then trafficking the timber on a massive scale to be processed in neighboring Vietnam. The government and military deny it.

Laos, with some of the last intact tropical forests in Southeast Asia, banned the export of raw timber in 1999 and says it is expanding its forest cover.

But there are widespread reports of rampant logging, often associated with the country’s mushrooming dam projects and agricultural plantations.

INDONESIA

Fishermen find body of American surfer

JAKARTA | Local fishermen on Thursday found the body of an American surfer who went missing last weekend in waters off western Indonesia.

Daniel Bobis apparently hit another surfer’s board after emerging from the barrel of a powerful, 10-foot wave. His leash broke, and his board washed to shore.

A member of the search-and-rescue team said Mr. Bobis’ body was found about 20 miles from where he’d last been seen.

Mr. Bobis, 32, was a math teacher and coach at Long Beach High School in New York. He had been vacationing with his wife, Rachel, on Sumatra island.

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