- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2010

INDIA

Suspected rebels kill 12 villagers

PATNA | Suspected Maoist rebels raided a village in eastern India early Thursday and killed at least 12 people in an apparent act of revenge after several guerrillas were captured and turned over to police.

Nearly 150 attackers set dozens of mud huts with thatched roofs ablaze, burning to death a family of four in Kasari, a village nearly 125 miles southeast of Patna, capital of Bihar state, said U.S. Dutt, an inspector-general of state police.

Seven others were killed when the suspected rebels opened fire on villagers and dynamited some homes, Mr. Dutt told the Associated Press.

Five others were hospitalized and one later died from his injuries, said state official Amir Subhani.

The raid came two days after a remote police post in neighboring West Bengal state was attacked, leaving 24 police officers dead. The violence highlights the growing power of the insurgents, who are now active in 20 of the country’s 28 states.

MALAYSIA

3 women caned for extramarital sex

KUALA LUMPUR | Authorities in Malaysia caned three Muslim women for having extramarital sex, making them the first women in the country to receive such punishment under Islamic law, an official said Wednesday.

The caning of women has fueled debate about whether Islamic conservatism is intruding into people’s personal lives in this moderate Muslim-majority country. Another woman, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, was sentenced to caning last year for drinking beer.

Ms. Kartika’s sentence has not been carried out, but authorities at a women’s prison near Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 9 caned three other Muslim women who had been convicted in an Islamic Shariah court of having sex outside of marriage, according to a Home Ministry official. They did not explain why the punishment was only announced Wednesday.

Each woman received between four and six strokes of a rattan cane, the official said.

SRI LANKA

Court frees coup suspects linked to ex-army chief

COLOMBO | A court in Sri Lanka has freed 14 men held on suspicion of plotting a coup with opposition leader and ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka, an official said.

Colombo Magistrate Champa Rajaratne released the men, including 10 retired army officers, on Wednesday as police failed to indict them since their arrest on charges of a conspiracy after Mr. Fonseka lost last month’s presidential vote.

The men had been working at Mr. Fonseka’s campaign office from where the ex-army chief was also arrested by the military on Feb. 8.

The government has accused Mr. Fonseka of plotting a coup and says he faces being court-martialed, although he has yet to be charged.

Mr. Fonseka, who is being held at the naval headquarters in Colombo, petitioned the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse’s re-election. He claimed that vote-rigging and electoral malpractice robbed him of election victory.

AUSTRALIA

‘Harry Potter’ author hit with plagiarism lawsuit

SYDNEY | J.K. Rowling has been named in a lawsuit claiming she stole ideas for her wildly popular and lucrative “Harry Potter” books from another British author.

The estate of the late Adrian Jacobs on Wednesday added Ms. Rowling as a defendant in a lawsuit it filed in June against Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for purported copyright infringement, according to a statement released by the estate’s representatives, who are based in Australia.

The lawsuit, filed in a London court, claims Ms. Rowling’s book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” copied substantial parts of Jacobs’ 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard - No. 1 Livid Land.” Jacobs’ estate also claims that many other ideas from “Willy the Wizard” were copied into the “Harry Potter” books. Jacobs died in London in 1997.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is the fourth book in Ms. Rowling’s series and was published in July 2000.

Ms. Rowling said the claim was completely untrue.

PAKISTAN

Avalanche leaves 50 dead or missing

PESHAWAR | An avalanche crashed down on a village in northwestern Pakistan, burying houses and leaving more than 50 people dead or missing, officials said Thursday.

Rescuer teams digging into the snow and rubble almost a full day after Wednesday night’s avalanche had recovered 38 bodies and had little hope that 14 people still missing would be found alive, local government Aminul Haq told Dunya television.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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