- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2008


59 held in Tibet on ethnic rumors

BEIJING | Authorities in Tibet have detained 59 people accused of disseminating rumors aimed at inciting ethnic tension and have cracked down on illegal downloads of “reactionary music” online, Chinese state media reported Thursday.

Law enforcement officers have found 48 cases of “rumor spreading” since March, when anti-government riots rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa, a report by the China Tibet News said, citing a local public security official.

Xin Yuanming, deputy chief of the Lhasa public security bureau, said those being investigated were instigated by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, according to the report.


Detained activist missing again

HARARE | A Zimbabwean peace activist held in a purported plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe has gone missing again, a leading human rights lawyer said Thursday.

Human Rights Watch called for the immediate release of Jestina Mukoko, saying the charges she faces “seem politically motivated.” The plot Ms. Mukoko is accused of has been widely dismissed as fabricated, and possibly an attempt by Mr. Mugabe’s regime to find an excuse to declare a state of emergency.

Zimbabwean lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said police had refused to comply with a judicial order late Wednesday that Ms. Mukoko be taken to a hospital so allegations of torture could be investigated. Ms. Mukoko had been missing for three weeks before she appeared in court Wednesday and police claimed they were not holding her.


Apartment blast leaves 18 dead

KIEV | Rescuers were searching Thursday for dozens of people trapped under the rubble of an apartment building destroyed in a nighttime explosion that killed at least 18 people in southern Ukraine, officials said.

The blast, apparently caused by leaky oxygen canisters, tore through the five-story building Wednesday night in the Crimea peninsula resort of Yevpatoriya, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Up to 700 military rescuers were picking through mounds of concrete and glass to search for survivors in the wreckage. At least 21 people were pulled out alive, with four of them hospitalized.


Menorah lit for slain couple

MUMBAI | The parents of a rabbi and his wife slain in last month’s Mumbai attack lit a menorah outside a badly damaged Jewish center Thursday, vowing the center’s work would continue.

Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg of New York, father of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, gathered with other community leaders outside the Chabad-Lubavitch center at Nariman House as part of Hanukkah celebrations.

The center was one of 10 sites attacked by Islamist militants in India’s financial capital on Nov. 26-29. The attacks killed at least 179 people.

Watched by dozens of police and onlookers gathered in the busy street, Nachman Holtzberg recited blessings before a group of rabbis led the delegation in prayer. The parents of Gavriel Holtzberg’s wife, Rivka, were also present.


Ebola outbreak declared in south

KINSHASA | The disease that has killed nine people in southern Democratic Republic of Congo has been identified as the deadly Ebola virus, the country’s health minister said Thursday.

The virus appeared in southern Western Kasai province on Nov. 27. There is no cure or treatment for Ebola, which kills 50 to 90 percent of its victims.

Officials said an Ebola epidemic in the same area last year was originally believed to have killed 174 out of more than 400 suspected cases. Medical experts now think the death toll may have been much lower.


3 suspects held in bomb plot

DHAKA | Police in northern Bangladesh arrested three suspected militants tied to a banned Islamic group and seized a large cache of bomb-making materials, an official said Thursday.

The raids came days before national elections to restore democracy, though police said it was unclear whether the explosives were part of any plot to disrupt the elections.

Officials seized at least 50 casings of grenades, explosives, batteries and books on jihad, or holy war, according to the police chief of the Gaibandha district, where the arrests were made in separate raids Wednesday and Thursday.

He said the suspects are members of the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh group, which has been blamed for bombings in Bangladesh in recent years.


65 students sickened by carbon monoxide

BEIJING | Sixty-five elementary school students in northern China were poisoned by carbon monoxide after smoke from a dormitory boiler seeped into their rooms, state media reported Thursday.

Nineteen were still being treated in hospitals in Inner Mongolia, the official Xinhua news agency said.

A regional health official said they weren’t in serious condition.

The students at Niuchang Primary School in Hohhot, the regional capital, reported feeling dizzy Wednesday, Xinhua said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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