- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2006

SRI LANKA

Finns, Danes to quit as truce monitors

COLOMBO — Finland and Denmark will quit the unarmed Nordic mission monitoring Sri Lanka’s battered 2002 truce after a dispute with Tamil Tiger rebels over an EU terror ban, they said yesterday, as mortars and air strikes hit the island.

The Tigers demanded monitors from European Union states Sweden, Finland and Denmark quit the five-nation monitoring mission by Sept. 1 after the European Union listed the Tigers as terrorists.

Diplomats fear weakening the mission would further undermine the cease-fire, raising the risk of a new civil war. Sweden, which provides the mission’s head, has yet to say whether it will pull out. Sri Lanka wants all three nations to stay.

NEPAL

Government, rebels extend cease-fire

KATMANDU — Communist rebels and the government have extended a cease-fire for another three months to allow talks aimed at ending Nepal’s decadelong conflict to continue, a rebel spokesman said yesterday.

The two sides declared a cease-fire April 27 after King Gyanendra ceded most of his power to a new parliamentary government. That accord was due to expire Thursday.

The parties agreed June 16 to draft an interim constitution and bring the rebels into the government, but there has been little progress on either matter. A United Nations team was in Nepal this week to meet with both sides.

INDIA

Brothers arrested in Bombay blasts

BOMBAY — Two Muslim brothers have been arrested in connection with this month’s Bombay train bombings, taking the number of persons in custody to eight, police said yesterday.

India has blamed the blasts that killed more than 180 people on Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistani military spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence. But police suspect they used Indian Muslims to plant the bombs on packed commuter trains and stations.

The brothers had been to Pakistan on different occasions to train in the use of arms, but their exact involvement in the blasts was being investigated, police said.

All the arrested, including a doctor, a chemical engineer and a computer software professional, are Indian Muslims.

Weekly notes …

Pakistan has sought the help of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal to revamp its system of madrassas after accusations that some of the Islamic schools teach religious hatred and are breeding grounds for militancy. Madrasas in West Bengal teach religious tolerance and include Christian and Hindu students in the classrooms as well as teaching subjects such as science and information technology. … Pakistan postponed for a third time the hanging of a Briton convicted of murder in order to give politicians another month to persuade the victim’s family to grant a pardon. Mirza Tahir Hussain, 36, was set to be hanged Aug. 3 for killing a taxi driver 18 years ago. Hussain said at his trial that the driver had tried to sexually assault him, and then pulled a gun that went off when the two struggled.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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