- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

SRI LANKA

Warplanes bomb suspected rebel camp

COLOMBO — Sri Lankan warplanes bombed a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel camp in the northeast yesterday as part of a stepped-up offensive against the guerrillas, a defense official said.

“Using MiG 27 jet planes, the air force took Tiger targets in the Thoppigala jungles,” military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

The defense ministry said warplanes were supported by artillery attacks by the army.

The military claimed that 31 rebels were seriously wounded in the attack. There was no comment from the rebels.

PAKISTAN

Bhutto to skip opposition meeting

KARACHI — Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has decided to skip a conference of parties opposed to President Pervez Musharraf scheduled to take place in London later this month, an aide said yesterday.

Mrs. Bhutto’s absence, political analysts say, will inevitably refuel speculation that she will cut some deal with Gen. Musharraf either before or after elections due this year or early 2008, which could pave the way for her Pakistan People’s Party to join the ruling coalition and her eventual return to Pakistan.

The All Parties Conference, to be hosted by another exiled former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is due to be held March 24-25 to chalk out an anti-Musharraf campaign ahead of the elections.

INDIA

Servant confesses to slayings, sex assaults

NEW DELHI — A servant confessed to killing and sexually assaulting at least 19 children and women and stuffing their dismembered remains into a storm drain outside the house where he worked, officials said yesterday.

The killings in a well-to-do section of Noida, a New Delhi suburb, prompted outrage after relatives of the victims said police had ignored their complaints as up to 38 people went missing over two years. Nearly all the victims were from poor families working as servants in the area.

The suspect, Surender Koli, was a servant at a house in Noida. He and the home’s owner were arrested in December.

NEPAL

Maoist chief meets prime minister

KATMANDU — Nepal’s Maoist chief Prachanda met Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to discuss plans for the ex-rebels to join the government, but no date was set for their entry, a minister said yesterday.

“The Maoist chief met with the prime minister and discussed joining the interim government to gear up for the constituent assembly elections,” Tourism Minister Pradeep Gyawali told reporters.

“The premier is eager to set up the interim government soon including the Maoists,” he said, but added no time was set.

Mr. Gyawali also said that the ministries and administrative positions for the Maoists have not yet been decided.

There was no immediate comment from the Maoists.

INDIA

Sex workers offer to pay for protection

CALCUTTA — The communist government of an eastern Indian state yesterday rejected a proposal by local sex workers that they pay taxes totaling as much as $400,000 a month to end police raids.

“It sounds ridiculous that sex workers are offering tax to the government,” West Bengal Law Minister Rabilal Moitra said in the state capital, Calcutta.

“The government has no plan to give legal sanction to prostitution. Police will continue to raid brothels to stop prostitution.”

Prostitution inhabits a legal gray area in India — it is not banned outright but pimping, trafficking and solicitation of clients are illegal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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