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SOUTH KOREA

Reports: N. Korea behind GPS disruption in South

SEOUL | North Korea is responsible for the disruption of GPS signals in some part of South Korea’s capital region last week that caused malfunctions in mobile phones, media reports quoted officials as saying on Sunday.

Communications officials could not say whether the North was behind separate cyber-attacks on government websites, including that of the presidential Blue House and the Defense Ministry since Friday.

If the North were responsible for either of the incidents, it could mark an escalation of tension between the rivals already high from two attacks on South Korean territory last year and ensuing exchange of threats of war and retaliation.

North Korea was suspected of a massive wave of cyber-attacks on U.S. and South Korean government and corporate websites in 2009.

Signals intended to disrupt GPS and other wireless communications were detected originating in North Korea’s border cities of Kaesong and Haeju on Friday, Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai rejects apology for deaths

KABUL | Afghanistan’s president on Sunday rejected a U.S. apology for the mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys in a NATO air attack and said civilian casualties are no longer acceptable.

According to a statement from his office, Hamid Karzai told Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, that expressing regret was not sufficient in last week’s killing of the boys, ages 12 and under, by coalition helicopters.

“President Karzai said that only regret is not sufficient and also mentioned that civilian casualties during military operations by coalition forces is the main reason for tension in relations between Afghanistan and United States,” the statement said. “It is not acceptable for the Afghan people any more. Regrets and condemnations of the incident cannot heal the wounds of the people.”

NATO has also apologized for the mistaken killings of the nine boys, which occurred March 1 in the Pech valley area of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who directs day-to-day operations of coalition forces across Afghanistan, later issued a video statement of apology.

CUBA

Court to rule in U.S. contractor case

HAVANA | A Cuban court will rule this week on whether U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross is guilty of crimes against the state, after prosecutors claimed he was involved in a “subversive project” to “defeat the revolution,” the government said Saturday.

The government said Mr. Gross tried to set up “clandestine networks of info-communications outside the control of Cuban authorities to feed counterrevolutionary provocations” using “sophisticated technologies.”

The Cuban statement followed the conclusion of a two-day trial in which Mr. Gross, 61, was officially charged with “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.” Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year sentence.

Mr. Gross has been jailed since his arrest in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

U.S. commandos capture pirates in raid

DUBAI | American commandos captured four suspected pirates who boarded a Japanese-owned oil tanker off the coast of Oman, anti-piracy officials said Sunday.

The 24 crew members on the MV Guanabara took refuge in a protected part of the vessel after reporting they were under attack Saturday, the officials.

A special unit from the destroyer USS Bulkeley boarded the tanker Sunday and detained the suspected pirates without firing a shot about 328 nautical miles southeast Oman.

JAPAN

Foreign minister resigns in disgrace

TOKYO | Japan’s foreign minister suddenly quit Sunday, after admitting he broke the law by accepting a foreign political donation.

The resignation of Seiji Maehara, after only six months as foreign minister, is seen as another blow to the embattled administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Mr. Maehara, 48, acknowledged receiving $590 last year from a 72-year-old Korean woman who has lived most of her life in Japan. Some Japanese newspapers, however, said her donations over the past several years totaled $3,000.

BAHRAIN

Thousands block prime minister’s office

MANAMA | Thousands of Shiite opposition supporters blocked the entrance to the Bahraini prime minister’s office, but failed to disrupt a government meeting on Sunday, as the campaign for reform in the strategic Gulf nation entered its third week.

Bahrain’s Shiite majority has long complained of discrimination and political persecution in the island nation, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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