- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide attack targets U.S. patrol

KABUL | A suicide bomber struck U.S. troops patrolling on foot in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least two soldiers and three civilians and wounding at least nine others, officials said.

The blast followed an allegation from President Hamid Karzai that clashes between U.S.-led troops and insurgents left 17 civilians dead earlier in the week. The U.S. military insists all 32 people killed in the fighting were militants.

It also comes at a time when the U.S. is rushing 20,000 more troops into Afghanistan to combat a Taliban insurgency that has sent violence to record levels.

U.S. officials have warned the violence will probably intensify in the coming year. More U.S. troops, 151, died in Afghanistan in 2008 than in any other year since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.

SRI LANKA

Army pushes rebels further into jungle

COLOMBO | Sri Lankan forces sweeping down from the north captured an important Tamil Tiger base on the Jaffna peninsula Thursday, further boxing in the retreating rebel group, the military said.

The capture of Pallai on the narrow isthmus connecting Jaffna with the rest of the island nation came after the rebels reportedly withdrew much of their artillery and heavy weaponry from the peninsula into their jungle strongholds to the south.

The group appeared to be sacrificing its bases on the peninsula and consolidating its forces in the Mullaittivu area, where it likely will make a stand against the government.

CHINA

Democracy activist jailed for six years

BEIJING | A 65-year-old democracy activist who tried to set up an opposition party in China was sentenced to six years in jail, a human rights group said Thursday.

A court in Hangzhou, a prosperous city in eastern Zhejiang province, sentenced Wang Rongqing on Wednesday on charges of subverting state power for organizing the banned China Democracy Party, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Mr. Wang was detained in June, two months before the Olympic Games started, the group said. His brother, Wang Rongyao, confirmed the sentence.

Mr. Wang has been repeatedly harassed and detained by police during his years of activism, which started in the late 1970s as China’s hard-line Maoist era came to a close and some started calling for democracy.

INDIA

Accounting scandal hits investors hard

MUMBAI | India reeled Thursday over a false-accounting scandal at outsourcing giant Satyam, likened to that at U.S. energy giant Enron, amid fears for jobs, foreign investment and the country’s business credibility.

There were fears the Hyderabad-based company - India’s fourth-largest IT exporter - could collapse as clients run scared and potential bidders shy away from being associated with a tainted firm.

Satyam Computer Services founder and chairman, B. Ramalinga Raju, resigned Wednesday, admitting in a letter to the industry regulator and stock exchange that company accounts and assets had been falsified and profits inflated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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