- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

CHINA
Manned spaceflight planned for this year
BEIJING China plans to launch its first manned spacecraft in the second half of the year, state media said today, citing a senior aerospace official.
Yuan Jie, director of the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau, revealed the time frame after returning from the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou IV spacecraft this week, according to the China News Service, a government news agency. Other state media also reported it, quoting the news agency.
"China's Shenzhou V will send a person into space in the latter half of this year," the news agency said in a brief dispatch on its Web site.
The current Shenzhou craft, the Shenzhou IV, was orbiting the Earth today, three days into what is expected to be a seven-day mission.

SOLOMON ISLANDS
Cyclone smashes South Pacific
HONIARA A severe cyclone that smashed into three remote South Pacific islands shredded trees and buildings, aerial photos showed yesterday, but aid officials downplayed fears about the fate of the islands' 2,000 residents.
Photos taken by free-lance photographer and filmmaker Geoff Mackley showed walls and roofs ripped off buildings amid shredded and toppled trees on the tiny island of Tikopia, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Zoe's 186 mph winds.
Australian government aid officials who flew over the island on an Australian air force plane yesterday said the devastation and any loss of life did not seem as bad as feared.

GAZA STRIP
Anniversary marked amid continued fighting
JERUSALEM Thousands of Palestinians, many carrying assault rifles and dummy rockets, marched in the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday to mark the founding anniversary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, in a show of defiance against Israeli occupation.
In the northern Gaza Strip, meanwhile, the army said three armed Palestinians tried to infiltrate into a Jewish settlement at nightfall. They were fatally shot by soldiers, who later found knives on their bodies, the army said.
The rallies, marking the 38th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, came after 27 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

AFGHANISTAN
Guests killed at wedding reception
KABUL Five persons were killed and six wounded when guests at an Afghan wedding party fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the air, only to have it land nearby and explode, an official said yesterday.
The blast occurred Friday in Gardez province, about 77 miles south of Kabul, but the casualties were not reported for several days.
Guns are often fired into the air to celebrate marriages in Afghanistan.

YEMEN
Authorities round up Muslim militants
SAN'A Scores of Muslim militants suspected of having terror links have been arrested during a search for a terrorist cell targeting foreigners and secular-minded politicians, a security official said yesterday.
The arrests followed the weekend assassination of veteran leftist politician Jarallah Omar and the Monday killings of three American missionaries in southern Yemen. Muslim extremists are suspected in both attacks.

IRAQ
Blix heading to Baghdad
NEW YORK Chief arms inspector Hans Blix probably will go to Baghdad between Jan. 18 and 20 for talks with Iraqi officials, presumably about a crucial report to the U.N. Security Council a week later, U.N. officials said.
Iraq extended the invitation to Mr. Blix in a letter dated Saturday and reported by the Iraqi News Agency on Tuesday.
Mr. Blix must give to the Security Council on Jan. 27, his first full analysis on Iraq's cooperation with the inspectors and the accuracy of a 12,000-page weapons declaration it submitted last month.


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