- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2003

INDONESIA

Islamic terrorists have 300 combatants

JAKARTA — The militant Muslim group Jemaah Islamiyah has at least 300 fighters trained in the Philippines and Afghanistan, a senior Indonesian policeman said yesterday.

Its leader, linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda and suspected of involvement in last year’s Bali bombings, was arrested in Thailand last week and is in U.S. custody.

Erwin Mappaseng, head of the criminal-investigation department, told a news conference yesterday that “according to our count, [Jemaahs membership] would be 300, but it could be more than that.” The group wants to set up an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

NEW ZEALAND

Strong quake rocks wintry South Island

SINGAPORE — A powerful earthquake hit New Zealand’s remote southwest Fiordland region, a government agency in the country said early today.

The shallow earthquake of 7.1 magnitude occurred at 12:12 a.m. PST, New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said in an e-mail. It was centered nearly 300 miles southwest of Christchurch, the main city on South Island, and about 60 miles from Queenstown mountain resort.

The epicenter was 40 miles northwest of Te Anau.

JAPAN

‘Robot suit’ will help aged walk

TOKYO — Japanese companies are preparing to release next spring a prosthetic “robot suit” that will help aged or disabled people walk at up to 2.5 mph, climb stairs or sit on thin air to rest without a chair.

Trading house Mitsui and Co. and some 30 other Tokyo firms plan to set up a joint venture in April or May next year to market the powered suit developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, an engineering professor at Tsukuba University.

“This is neither a factory robot, nor one for amusement like a pet robot. This is a brand-new proposal projecting a future image of relations between people and robots,” Mr. Sankai said. It will sell for about $8,400.

Weekly notes …

Grant Aldonas, U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade, told an East-West Center luncheon in Honolulu on Wednesday that China has been more open on some issues than either Japan or South Korea. “China is willing to meet us more than halfway,” he said. Mr. Aldonas said this message must be better communicated in Washington. “At the end of the day, the strongest and most dynamic growth rate is still in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We have to make sure we are deeply anchored.” … A Chinese real-estate tycoon was taken hostage and killed by a gunman who broke into his home in Lanzhou, capital of remote northwestern Gansu province, police said yesterday. The slaying of Liu Enqian, head of Gansu Changqing real estate company, was the third reported attack on a Chinese millionaire this year. The gunman killed himself after police surrounded the house.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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