- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

IRAN

Court convicts 4 for plotting coup

TEHRAN | Iran’s official news agency reported that four Iranians were convicted and sentenced to prison in what officials described as a U.S.-backed plot to topple the government.

IRNA said Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced the four to prison on charges of trying to overthrow the Islamic government with the support of the U.S. State Department and the CIA. The report did not provide any further details, including the length of the sentences or the men’s names.

On Tuesday, a judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said the four had planned to recruit others to be trained in anti-Iranian activities abroad.

PHILIPPINES

Kidnapped workers check in by phone

MANILA | The Red Cross said Saturday that three workers kidnapped on a restive southern Philippine island have called colleagues and said they were unharmed.

Anna Nelson, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Philippines, said the three made the call Friday, a day after they were abducted by motorcycle-riding gunmen on southern Jolo island.

Miss Nelson said there was no further information on their whereabouts, and she declined to give other details regarding their phone call.

MALAYSIA

Islamists win decisive by-election

KUALA TERENGGANU | Malaysia’s opposition Islamist party won a fiercely contested by-election Saturday in a vote that was cast as a referendum on incoming Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), one of three partners in Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition alliance, won the seat in Kuala Terengganu by a more-than-expected 2,631 votes, overturning a government majority of 628 votes.

Analysts said the by-election results could raise political risk at a time when Mr. Najib, who heads the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 51 years, has to confront the possibility of Malaysia’s first recession in eight years.

THAILAND

Hundreds may have perished at sea

BANGKOK | Thailand will investigate reports that the Thai navy abandoned migrants on a barge in the ocean where hundreds of them may have drowned, the government said Saturday.

More than 100 Burmese and Bangladeshi workers were rescued last month by Indian authorities from a barge adrift near the Andaman Islands. It was the first reported incident of the Thai navy forcing a boat out to sea rather than detaining the migrants as was policy in the past.

The Thai Foreign Ministry also said it will reassess the overall situation of illegal immigration in light of the incident and would attempt to work with neighboring countries to better address the problem.

INDIA

Elephants kill 3 in northeast

GAUHATI | A herd of nearly 150 hungry elephants rampaged through a village in India’s remote northeast, trampling to death a young family as they slept in their hut, a resident and a wildlife official said Saturday.

The Asiatic elephants destroyed four homes in Assam state’s Karbi Anglong village Friday night, a resident said. A farmer, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter died in the incident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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