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The move comes amid growing pressure on domestic rights activists, despite diplomatic overtures by the United States and international calls to implement democratic reforms.

“With the expulsion of Human Rights Watch, the Uzbek government sends a clear message that it isn’t willing to tolerate critical scrutiny of its human rights record,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said.

Uzbekistan lies on a key supply route for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, making it a valuable ally for the West. It also has begun exporting substantial quantities of electricity to Afghanistan.

The country’s strategic importance has made the United States reluctant to criticize Uzbekistan over its rights violations, Human Rights Watch said. It demanded that the U.S. and the European Union pursue a more robust human rights policy with Uzbekistan.

IRAQ

2 Kurdish officials resign in volatile city

SULAIMANIYAH | Two top Kurdish politicians resigned Tuesday from the local government in northern Iraq in what appears to be a political maneuver to challenge Arabs for control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, one of the nation’s most volatile fault lines.

The city is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to it.

Kurds are seeking to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region in Iraq’s north - and out from under control of the Arab-dominated central government in Baghdad.

It is one of Iraq’s most explosive disputes, and Kirkuk’s Arabs and Turkomen have long opposed the Kurds’ goal.

INDONESIA

Small bomb wounds 4 in nation’s capital

JAKARTA | A mail bomb addressed to a moderate Muslim leader exploded in Indonesia’s capital Tuesday as police were trying to defuse it, wounding four people.

The bungled attempt by officers was captured on video and widely aired on local television stations.

The explosive, delivered to the offices of the Islamic Liberal Network, was placed in a hole carved into a heavy book titled “They should be killed for their sins against Islam and the Muslims.”

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