- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

INDIA

Policemen killed, Maoists suspected

PIRAKATA | Maoist rebels are suspected of killing nine policemen in a land mine attack in eastern India on Thursday, as hundreds of soldiers moved to confront the guerrillas in a neighboring state.

The nine officers were in a jeep near Narayan Patna village in Orissa state to clear roads that had been blocked by the rebels, said local police Chief Sanjeev Panda. There were no survivors, he said.

The police were attacked as authorities sent hundreds of soldiers to neighboring West Bengal state, where Maoist rebels captured more than a dozen villages, killed political rivals and burned police stations and government offices.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor. They frequently target police and government workers.

NORTH KOREA

Chem, bio weapons as deadly as nukes

SEOUL | North Korea’s massive stockpile of chemical weapons is as threatening as its nuclear program, analysts said Thursday, highlighting an aspect of the secretive regime’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that is rarely discussed.

Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs are centerpieces of the regime’s catalog of weapons of mass destruction.

But the impoverished nation, which has put most of its scarce resources into boosting its military capabilities under its “army-first” policy, also has a large chemical arsenal, as well as capabilities to produce biological weapons.

The independent International Crisis Group said the North is thought to have 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents and sarin. These weapons can be delivered with ballistic missiles and long-range artillery and are “sufficient to inflict massive civilian casualties on South Korea.”

AFGHANISTAN

Bicycle bomb kills child

KANDAHAR | A bomb strapped to a parked bicycle exploded near a construction office in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing one employee and a child about 11 years old, police said.

Meanwhile, five police officers died when a police vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Kandahar province’s Shorawak district, said Gen. Saifulah Hakim, a border police commander. He said two officers were also wounded in the explosion.

Such attacks are common in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency has regained control of large areas in the past three years after having been routed from control of the country in 2001.

In Pakistan, suspected U.S. missiles pounded militant hide-outs Thursday in a tribal belt near Afghanistan, killing at least eight people.

VIETNAM

Activists arrested on collusion charge

HANOI | Authorities in Vietnam have arrested three pro-democracy activists, accusing them of colluding with a prominent civil rights lawyer to sabotage the communist government, state media reported Thursday.

The three are accused of violating Article 88 of the Penal Code, which bans spreading false propaganda about the state, the official Vietnam News Agency said. It said they plotted with the civil rights lawyer, Le Cong Dinh, who was arrested last week on the same charge.

Mr. Dinh, one of Vietnam’s most high-profile lawyers, represented two human rights lawyers who were jailed by the government in 2007 on charges of spreading anti-government propaganda. At their trial, he made an outspoken defense of free speech.

Mr. Dinh, 41, was arrested Saturday at his home in Ho Chi Minh City. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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