- - Monday, August 9, 2010


North Korea fires artillery off coast

SEOUL | North Korea fired about 110 rounds of artillery Monday near its disputed sea border with South Korea, the South’s military said, amid high tension over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on North Korea.

The rounds were fired shortly after South Korea ended five-day naval drills off the west coast that the North called a rehearsal for an invasion, vowing to retaliate.

All the artillery shells landed harmlessly in the North’s waters and caused no damage to the South, a South Korean Joint Chief of Staff officer said on the condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

South Korea considered the firing to be part of a military drill by North Korea but bolstered its military readiness against further provocation, the officer said. The South also warned Pyongyang over the firing by naval radio, he said.


1,300 missing in floods, landslides

ZHOUQU | Rescuers dug through mud and wreckage Monday in search of more than 1,300 people missing after flash floods and landslides struck northwestern China, one of a series of floods across Asia that have killed hundreds and spread misery to millions more.

In Pakistan, frustrated victims railed against the government’s anemic relief effort for the estimated 13 million affected by the country’s worst-ever floods, while rescuers in mountainous Indian-controlled Kashmir raced to rescue dozens of stranded foreign trekkers and find 500 people still missing in flash floods that have killed at least 140.

Sunday’s disaster in China’s Gansu province killed at least 137 people and swamped entire villages. The government said 1,348 were missing as of 4 p.m. Monday.


Muslim rebels say peace talks at risk

CAMP DARAPANAN | The leader of the Philippines’ largest Muslim guerrilla group on Monday said peace talks to end the long-running insurgency could be derailed by the new government’s plans to overhaul the negotiations.

Since 1997, Manila has been engaged in stop-start negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to end a conflict that began in the 1960s and has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth on resource-rich Mindanao island.

The rebels have agreed to talks with the new government of President Benigno Aquino III, but are worried that it wants to remove Malaysia as a broker and review all previous deals. Distrust between the parties would undermine hopes for a lasting peace.


Israelis threaten to quit U.N. probe

JERUSALEM | Israel threatened Monday to pull out of a U.N. inquiry into a deadly raid on a Turkish flotilla heading for Gaza, after the U.N. chief said there is no agreement that the panel would refrain from calling Israeli soldiers to testify.

Last week, Israel agreed to participate in the U.N. probe into the May 31 raid, when nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed after Israeli naval commandos boarded a Turkish vessel aiming to break Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza.

The surprise development was announced just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu testified before his country’s own inquiry into the raid. He charged that Turkey had an interest in the violent confrontation and refused to exert its influence to stop the flotilla. A Turkish official rejected that as “ridiculous.”


High court in limbo amid political spats

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka | Political turmoil paralyzing the Maldives deepened Monday after the attorney-general resigned in frustration over parliament’s refusal to appoint a new Supreme Court.

In an attempt to prevent the country from spiraling into judicial chaos, President Mohammed Nasheed issued a decree Sunday — the day an interim court was to have been disbanded — allowing the Supreme Court to continue administrative functions until the crisis is resolved.

Political disorder engulfed the nation of 1,192 low-lying coral islands after the 13-member Cabinet resigned en masse in June, accusing the opposition of undermining Mr. Nasheed’s powers by defeating all motions put before it. The Cabinet was reappointed last month.

Mr. Nasheed took power in the country’s first democratic elections two years ago, after repeatedly being imprisoned under the 30-year rule of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whom he defeated in the 2008 elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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