- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

ISRAEL

Hamas considers one-year cease-fire

JERUSALEM — Hamas may be willing to agree to a cease-fire with Israel for one year, a senior official of the militant group said in an interview published yesterday.

A previous Gaza truce between Hamas and Israel unraveled in mid-May when Hamas intensified rocket launchings into Israel, killing two Israelis. In counterstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army has killed more than 60 Palestinians, most of them militants.

Hamas deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk suggested the group may be interested in ending the violence.

“We may agree to a one-year cease-fire,” Mr. Abu Marzouk was quoted as saying in an interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram. “Both parties have to abide by it.”

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban among 60 killed as boat sinks

KABUL — A boat sank while crossing a river in Afghanistan’s most dangerous province, killing about 60 Taliban fighters and civilians, officials said yesterday.

The boat sank as it was crossing the Helmand River, which snakes through the southern Helmand province, the world’s leading opium-poppy region and site of fierce battles over the last several months.

Meanwhile, 34 suspected Taliban fighters were killed in gunbattles over the past two days in Helmand’s Kajaki district, near where a U.S. helicopter went down Thursday, killing five Americans, a Canadian and a Briton.

SUDAN

Protesters decry U.S. sanctions

KHARTOUM — Hundreds of people protested yesterday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum against recently announced U.S. economic sanctions and called for immediate severance of economic ties with Washington.

Dozens of riot police formed a human wall to bar demonstrators from getting closer to the embassy building, but the demonstration went off peacefully.

On Tuesday, President Bush tightened U.S. sanctions on Sudan over “genocide” in the country’s western region of Darfur and pushed for a tough U.N. Security Council resolution to punish Khartoum for the bloody crisis.

DENMARK

Pirates capture cargo ship

COPENHAGEN — Pirates have captured the Danish cargo ship Danica White off the coast of Somalia, its owner said yesterday.

Joergen Folmer, owner of H. Folmer & Co., told the Danish Ritzau news agency that the ship, with a crew of five Danish sailors, has been “captured by pirates” off the Horn of Africa.

There was no immediate information on the fate of the sailors.

JAPAN

N. Korean refugees arrive on boat

TOKYO — Four persons believed to have fled North Korea arrived at a port in northern Japan in a small boat yesterday and later told police they want to go to South Korea, Kyodo News reported.

The couple in their 60s and their two sons in their 20s and 30s told police they left North Korea because life was so hard there, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said.

If they are refugees, it would be the first time that North Koreans fled to Japan and sought asylum directly, and could further strain ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang if North Korea demanded their return.

EGYPT

Brotherhood backers held in 4 provinces

CAIRO — Egyptian police arrested 55 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood yesterday, security and Brotherhood officials said, as part of a crackdown against the opposition group ahead of parliamentary elections this month.

The arrests in four provinces raise the total to at least 103 Brotherhood activists detained since Thursday, the largest raid since February.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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