- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

PAKISTAN

Militants’ hide-out attacked near border

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships attacked a suspected hide-out in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region near the Afghan border and killed about 30 militants.

Army spokesman Gen. Shaulat Sultan would not reveal the identities or nationalities of those killed late Friday near the town of Miran Shah, the scene of repeated clashes between security forces and militants in the past week.

He told the Associated Press the attack used “authentic intelligence and, according to our information, about 30 miscreants, who included foreigners, were killed.”

An intelligence official in the region said the targeted compound belonged to a pro-Taliban cleric, Sadiq Noor, although it was not clear whether he was there at the time.

JAPAN

Troops may stay longer in Iraq

TOKYO — Japan may extend its humanitarian mission in Iraq beyond a reported May deadline because of the deteriorating security and political crisis there, according to a news report yesterday.

The government has not announced when, or if, it will end its 600-troop humanitarian mission in the southern city of Samawah, but media reports have suggested Japanese troops may start to pull out as early as this month and complete the process by late May.

Sankei newspaper said yesterday that Tokyo plans to drop the May withdrawal deadline, citing unidentified government sources. The report did not suggest an alternative date to complete the process.

NORTH KOREA

Talks delayed over war games

SEOUL — North Korea informed South Korea yesterday that it will delay high-level bilateral talks scheduled this month because of an upcoming South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, according to the North’s official news agency.

Kwon Ho-ung, the North’s Cabinet counselor, said the military exercise cannot be justified, and the South’s “wrong behavior” made it impossible to hold the 18th round of the talks this month.

North Korea routinely condemns the annual joint military exercises as preparations for an invasion.

AFGHANISTAN

Policemen beheaded; bodies dumped

KANDAHAR — Two low-ranking police officers were beheaded and their bodies dumped in a desert after they were kidnapped from their homes in the heartland of Afghanistan’s opium-poppy region, an official said yesterday.

The violence is the latest to hit southern Helmand province since Afghan security forces began a massive campaign earlier this week to eradicate hundreds of acres of opium poppies, which are used to make heroin.

The two police officers were abducted late Friday.

BRITAIN

Global trade talks remain deadlocked

LONDON — Six of the world’s top economic powers made little headway yesterday in removing long-standing hurdles to a global trade deal, but they reaffirmed a commitment to conclude a key part of the pact by the end of April.

The World Trade Organization’s 149 member states are racing to meet the deadline they set in Hong Kong in December for a draft accord in agriculture and industrial goods.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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