- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

YEMEN

Troops storm al Qaeda hide-out

SAN’A | Yemeni security forces stormed an al Qaeda hide-out Wednesday in a principle militant stronghold in the country’s west, setting off clashes, officials said, as a security chief vowed to fight the group’s powerful local branch until it was eliminated.

A government statement said at least one suspected al Qaeda member was arrested during the fighting in Hudaydah province. The province, along Yemen’s Red Sea coast, was home to most of the assailants in a bombing and shooting attack outside the U.S. Embassy in 2008 that killed 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians.

Al Qaeda’s growing presence in Yemen, an impoverished and lawless country on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has drawn attention with the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner on Friday. U.S. investigators say the Nigerian suspect in the attack told them that he received training and instructions from al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.



Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula set up its Yemen base in January when operatives from Saudi Arabia and Yemen merged.

NORTH KOREA

Foreign currency use to be banned

BEIJING | North Korea will ban the use of foreign currency for purchases among both its citizens and foreigners beginning Jan. 1, Chinese state television reported Wednesday, another sign the communist government is intent on reasserting control over the economy.

North Korean citizens “will be forbidden from directly using dollars, euros and other foreign currencies in shops, restaurants and other outlets,” CCTV said in a brief report on its main evening news program.

Foreigners must exchange foreign currency for North Korean won in order to purchase items, the report said.

The reported order comes weeks after the hard-line communist government said that it would redenominate the won as part of a far-reaching currency overhaul aimed at curbing runaway inflation and reasserting government control over the economy.

BELGIUM

Report: 137 media workers killed in ‘09

BRUSSELS | This year has been one of the worst on record for the deliberate killing of reporters and media staff, an international journalists’ association said Thursday.

A total of 137 journalists and media personnel were killed in 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists. It said 113 were singled out because of their profession and 24 died accidentally. The Philippines, Mexico and Somalia were the most dangerous countries for journalists.

The total 2009 death toll of 137 compares with a federation tally of 109 and 175 in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

INDONESIA

Ex-President Wahid dies at 69

JAKARTA | Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who briefly ruled during the nation’s first tumultuous years of democracy and sought peace in far-flung secessionist provinces, died Wednesday. He was 69.

Mr. Wahid, known fondly by his nickname Gus Dur, was a proponent of moderate Islam and democratic reformer who ultimately was unable to implement his ambitious ideas in the vast island state of 235 million people.

During nearly two years in power, from October 1999 to July 2001, Mr. Wahid created a broad coalition of unity amid political and financial chaos in the wake of the downfall of late dictator Suharto in 1998 after 32 years.

Mr. Wahid had struggled with illness for years. He was confined to a wheelchair, lost most of his sight, and suffered serious kidney problems.

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