- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007


2 militancy suspects seized after gunfight

JAKARTA — Police said yesterday that they arrested two senior Muslim militants after a shootout yesterday in which one of them was wounded in Poso, a restive town on Sulawesi island, after a tip from residents.

The two suspects, called Basri and Ardin, were wanted in connection with a series of attacks, including the beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in October 2005. A third man, who was not on the wanted list, also was arrested.

On Wednesday, police offered a reward of 100 million rupiah (nearly $11,000) for information leading to their arrest.

“We strongly believe that Basri was involved in 32 or almost all attacks in Poso, including the mutilation of three high-school girls in 2005,” national police spokesman Sisno Adiwinoto told reporters in Jakarta.


Transplants from the executed defended

BEIJING — China said yesterday that it strictly controls organ transplants from executed prisoners after accusations that its military harvests organs.

“This is done very cautiously, and we have strict laws and regulations that require the consent of the people themselves,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. “There are serious regulations in this regard.”

Her comments came a day after David Kilgour, Canada’s former secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific region, and human rights lawyer David Matas issued a report saying the Chinese military is heavily involved in the transplant of organs taken from executed prisoners. They said that members of the banned Falun Gong sect are especially targeted and that foreigners receive some of these organs.


Hanoi, Vatican mull diplomatic ties

HANOI — The communist government will discuss with the Vatican a proposal by the Holy See to establish diplomatic relations, after a Jan. 25 meeting at the papal state between Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Pope Benedict XVI, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung told reporters that relations between Vietnam and the Holy See will “follow a road map” but that no date has been fixed. He said the prime minister “has taken note and assigned the diplomatic agencies to conduct discussion to work out appropriate measures.”

The ministry spokesman said that during the prime minister’s meeting with Benedict, there was no discussion of a visit to Vietnam by the pontiff. The Vatican called the meeting an “important step” toward normalizing diplomatic ties and said the Roman Catholic Church is pleased with “concrete progress” in recent years for religious freedom in Vietnam.

Weekly notes …

A New Zealand man pleaded not guilty yesterday to the first homicide in 150 years on Norfolk Island, a remote Australian island populated by descendants of mutineers from HMS Bounty. Glenn McNeill, 29, a former chef on the island, was formally charged in Norfolk Island Supreme Court in the March 31, 2002, slaying of Janelle Patterson, 28, an Australian restaurant manager. … Toxic plankton has killed thousands of fish in waters off the Indonesian resort island of Bali, an official said yesterday. The “red tide” algae bloom was triggered by an El Nino-induced storm that moved from the Pacific Ocean to the Indonesian waters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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