- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

PAKISTAN

Saeed’s detention extended 60 days

LAHORE | Pakistan has extended the house arrest of the head of a charity thought to be a front for the militant group blamed in the Mumbai attacks, an official said Saturday.

Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a founder of the now-banned militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, will remain detained for an additional 60 days, said Usman Anwar, a top government official in the Punjab province.

Mr. Saeed leads the charity that the United Nations recently declared a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant organization that India thinks masterminded the November slaughter of 171 people in its financial center.

VATICAN CITY

Vatican may join anti-terrorism body

VATICAN CITY | The Vatican is considering whether to join the European Union’s anti-terrorism body, Eurojust, in a bid to increase security, an official said Saturday.

Vatican City’s chief prosecutor, Nicola Picardi, said the increased threat of international terrorism required new forms of cooperation among countries. In October, the Vatican successfully joined Interpol, and the Vatican’s Gendarmeria has been attending meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe since 2006, he said.

While only 492 people live in Vatican City, about 18 million pilgrims and tourists pass through each year.

PERU

Bus crashes into ravine, killing 33

LIMA | Peruvian police say at least 33 people are dead and 23 injured after a bus ran off a remote, rain-slicked mountain road.

Police said rainy conditions made for poor visibility when the vehicle plunged into a ravine before dawn Saturday. Officials said the bus was traveling to the northern city of Querocoto.

There was no word on the condition of the injured, who were being taken to hospitals. Bus crashes are common in the mountains of Peru, where most roads are unpaved.

IRAN

Iran disputes report of ban on volunteers

TEHRAN | Iranian officials strongly disputed media reports Saturday that Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, has banned volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel and stressed that the supreme leader meant only that practical obstacles remained for such attackers to get to Gaza.

The officials said the Associated Press misinterpreted Ayatollah Khameini’s comments when he said Thursday that “our hands are tied in this arena.”

The Iranian officials said the comments meant only that any Iranians would have great practical difficulty in reaching Gaza because of Israel’s offensive.

SOUTH AFRICA

ANC launches election campaign

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Saturday launched its campaign for an election that could see the party of the anti-apartheid struggle face a serious challenge from a breakaway group.

Jacob Zuma, the often-controversial ANC leader, rallied tens of thousands into a stadium that was a sea of yellow with people wearing the party’s T-shirts. Elections are expected to be held in the first half of the year.

The ANC has been in power for 15 years, since the end of the country’s white-minority apartheid rule. For the first time, the ANC faces a serious challenge from the Congress of the People, set up in December by disillusioned former ANC activists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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