- - Thursday, June 14, 2012

KABUL — Afghan officials said they are halting efforts to dig out more than 60 bodies from the site of a devastating landslide that followed earthquakes in northern Afghanistan earlier this week.

They plan to make the area a memorial to the dead.

The government had said 71 people were buried in Monday’s landslide, but the police chief of Baghlan province’s Burka district said they have pulled out only five bodies in four days of digging.

He said that religious leaders in the area recommended that they leave the bodies buried under the hill and rename it “Martyrs Hill.”

The police chief said Thursday that more than 800 people helped with the effort to dig out the bodies of the victims.

Two earthquakes struck the area early Monday, causing the landslide.

MYANMAR

Both ethnic groups suffered in clashes

YANGON — The communal violence that swept through a western Myanmar state over the past week killed 29 people and inflicted similar damage on both of the contending ethnic communities, figures from local authorities showed Thursday.

Authorities in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe also revealed that 30,000 people had been displaced, much higher than previous tallies and possibly posing a relief problem for a poor area.

Government media made some effort to not directly blame either side for the violence, describing rioters as “terrorists.”

But other press coverage and news spread over the Internet gave a strong impression that the Rohingya community was mostly the aggressor.

The reports fueled long-standing prejudice against the Rohingya, who Myanmar’s government and many citizens widely regard as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

INDIA

Pakistan firing kills 1 Indian in Kashmir

SRINAGAR — Pakistani forces killed one Indian soldier in firing across their disputed border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, the Indian military said Thursday, while both sides accused the other of starting the skirmishes.

Indian military spokesman Col. R.K. Palta said Pakistani forces opened fire first with rockets and automatic weapons on Wednesday and continued Thursday in what India considered a violation of a cease-fire, and that Indian forces returned fire.

The Pakistani side continued firing even when Indian forces worked to evacuate an injured soldier who later died in a hospital, Col. Palta said.

He said India contacted Pakistan via a hotline to try to de-escalate the situation at the border, about 115 miles southwest of Srinagar. “However, Pakistani troops continued firing on Indian posts,” he said, adding that the situation remained tense.

A military official in Pakistan, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Pakistani army has strict rules on who it allows to be named in the media, said the Indian side launched “unprovoked firing.”

He did not respond to the report that an Indian soldier had been killed.

Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India. Their armies have observed a cease-fire in the region since November 2003, but there have been isolated shooting incidents since then.

India and Pakistan have fought two of three wars over control of Kashmir - a territory claimed by both in its entirety - since their independence from Britain in 1947.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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