- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2009

PAKISTAN

Jets bomb militant hide-outs

ISLAMABAD | Military jets and artillery pounded suspected militant hide-outs in two towns in Pakistan’s northwest Sunday, killing 27 fighters, officials said. Elsewhere in the volatile region, a citizens militia killed seven suspected militants.

As the violence raged, President Asif Ali Zardari claimed that the entire country backs the battle against the extremists.

The military has stepped up strikes in the past week on suspected militant bases in Bajur, where violence has spiked again almost five months after the military declared victory after a months-long offensive.

Two local government officials, Iqbal Khan and Nawaz Khan, said bombs dropped from planes on targets in Salarzai town killed 13 militants. In nearby Charmang, shelling killed 14 militants, the officials said. The military has attacked targets in Charmang several times in the past week.

VENEZUELA

Chavez opposes patents on medicine

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez has vowed to shake up the rules governing intellectual property rights on medicines and other products in Venezuela, the socialist’s latest move against the private sector.

“A song is intellectual property, but an invention or a scientific discovery should be knowledge for the world, especially medicine,” Mr. Chavez said late Saturday.

“That a laboratory does not allow us to make a medicine because they have the patent, no, no, no,” Mr. Chavez said.

Mr. Chavez, who has nationalized many Venezuela industries and is critical of the private sector, ordered his trade minister to analyze the nation’s patent rules.

HAITI

Voters ignore Senate election

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Election officials flew street banners and sent text messages to encourage a big turnout for Haiti’a hotly anticipated Senate runoffs, but very few in the capital city were voting Sunday.

Eleven vacant seats in the 30-member Senate are on the line. With them are President Rene Preval’s hopes of overpowering uncooperative legislators and pushing through internationally backed economic reforms and constitutional amendments that would give his successors more power.

Voting was extremely light in Port-au-Prince, though it was too early to gauge the turnout in the rest of the country.

Many Haitians said they are wary of voting after weeks of political clashes, some deadly, and they’re fed up with what they see as an ineffective government that has done nothing about the country’s dire poverty.

IRAQ

Terror worries up, U.S. pullout nears

BAGHDAD | The U.S. military sent search dogs Sunday to help find more than a dozen people still missing and feared dead after the country’s worst bombing this year devastated a northern Iraqi town just over a week before U.S. troops are due to leave Iraq’s cities.

The truck bombing Saturday near the ethnically tense city of Kirkuk flattened a Shi’ite mosque and dozens of mud-brick houses around it, killing at least 75 people.

Iraqi police blamed al Qaeda in Iraq, saying it was part of an insurgent campaign to destabilize the country and undermine confidence in the government.

Americans will remain ready to help, as they were in the aftermath of Saturday’s bombing, but many Iraqis fear that their departure after two years of a steady urban presence will prove deadly.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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