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MANILA — Soldiers attacked al Qaeda-linked Muslim terrorists at an encampment in the Philippines’ volatile south Thursday. Eight government troops and four rebels were killed in the fighting, the military said.

Army Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz said government forces struck in the morning after the military pinpointed an encampment of Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for past attacks in Basilan Island’s Sumisip township.

Sporadic fighting continued until afternoon, with reinforcement troops deployed.

Officials said the terrorists belong to the same group that ambushed a truckload of rubber plantation workers in Sumisip two weeks ago. Five farmworkers and one government militiaman were killed in that attack, and 22 others were wounded.

Violence in the southern Philippines continues despite efforts by U.S.-trained Philippine forces to put an end to decades of bombings and ransom kidnappings by Muslim extremists in the predominantly Christian nation.

Philippine offensives have weakened the militants, but they remain a threat. They are holding several foreign hostages, apparently to use ransom money to buy food and weapons.


Panel restricts Chinesebid for media group

TAIPEI — Taiwan regulators have put strict conditions on a bid by a China-friendly media group to purchase the island’s largest cable TV system, as concerns grow that China’s commercial clout is undermining freedom of the press in one of Asia’s liveliest media markets.

The National Communications Commission approved a bid by Taiwan’s China Times Group to buy the system for $2.4 billion in a decision released late Wednesday. But it requires the Chinese investors to sell a cable TV news station criticized for its pro-China content and allow an independent group to screen the news broadcasts of another station it controls.

The decision was made as other cable stations on the island weigh the advantages of silencing anti-China commentators to help them sell Chinese-language programming to the lucrative Chinese market.


Orangutan moved to stop her from smoking

JAKARTA — Indonesian zookeepers have moved an orangutan out of visitors’ sight so she will stop smoking lit cigarettes that people regularly throw into her cage.

Taru Jurug Zoo spokesman Daniek Hendarto said Thursday that Tori and her male companion, Didik, were moved Wednesday to a small island within the zoo. The zoo in the Central Java town of Solo has four endangered orangutans.

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