- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2010


Two killed to end gunbattle

SRINAGAR | Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir ended a 20-hour gunbattle with suspected rebels Thursday, shooting and killing the two attackers who paralyzed the region’s main city.

The attack was the first prolonged gunfight in Srinagar since 2006 and raised concerns about a possible spike in violence in the tense region after years of declining attacks.

The heavily militarized territory is claimed in its entirety by India and neighboring Pakistan both nuclear-armed nations - and the dispute has sparked two wars between the rival countries.

The attackers entered a crowded shopping area in Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon and hurled hand grenades and opened fire at a group of soldiers, killing one police officer and one bystander, said top police official Farooq Ahmed.

The assailants then took refuge in a hotel, where they held off troops throughout the night. Early Thursday, government forces fought their way into the hotel, killing the men, said Mr. Ahmed.

Government soldiers were searching the area for any leftover explosives and any other suspicious items, Mr. Ahmed said.

-The fighting wounded 10, including four soldiers, he said.


Officials: Church set on fire

KUALA LUMPUR | A church has been set on fire in Malaysia by unidentified attackers, officials said, amid a growing conflict in the country over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Officials said a portion of the Metro Tabernacle Church was set ablaze a little after midnight Thursday. The church is located in a three-story building on a shopping street in Taman Melawati, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur.

Kevin Ang, a church spokesman, said only the first floor office of the church was destroyed. The worship areas on the second and third floors were undamaged. There were no injuries.

District police chief Zakaria Pagan told the Associated Press that authorities were investigating the incident.


Uranium program

began after deal

SEOUL | Noth Korea appears to have launched a uranium-enrichment program as a new way of building atomic bombs soon after its 1994 deal with the U.S. to dismantle its existing plutonium nuclear weapons program, South Korea said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said in an interview with Yonhap news agency published Wednesday that the North appears to have launched its uranium enrichment program right after the 1994 agreement, or by 1996 at the latest.

Pyongyang last year said it had a uranium-enrichment program, but did not say when it had started it.

Mr. Yu, who has expressed doubts in the past that North Korea will give up its nuclear program, did not give specific evidence as is common practice concerning intelligence matters. Mr. Yu’s ministry confirmed his remarks.


China unhappy over plans for atoll

BEIJING | China on Thursday said it was unhappy at reported Japanese plans to build a port on a remote Pacific atoll, which Beijing fears Toyko will use to stake a claim to a large swathe of ocean as an exclusive economic zone.

Okinotori, also known as Douglas Reef or Parece Vela, is some 1,050 miles south of Tokyo. Japan has already built facilities such as a lighthouse there, and poured in concrete to make sure the atoll does not slip totally beneath the waves.

China has said that the atoll does not meet internationally recognized criteria to be classed as an island, making claims to the waters and continental shelf surrounding it invalid.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said this week that the transport ministry had asked for funding to build a port on Okinotori to help with exploration for resources in the area.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the atoll could not be the basis for any territorial claims.

“Building infrastructure cannot change its legal position,” she told a regular news briefing in Beijing.


Japanese whalers pursued by copter


| Japanese whalers and conservationists squared off Thursday for more hostilities in the Antarctic, a day after the hunters crushed one of the activists’ boats in a clash each side blamed on the other but all agreed endangered lives.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society searched Antarctic waters by helicopter for a key Japanese whaling ship Thursday, renewing its attempts to find and harass the whalers into giving up their hunt, the group’s founder Paul Watson said.

The escalating Antarctic confrontations were broadly condemned, but no plan was hatched to prevent future confrontations. Legal uncertainties about jurisdiction and the remoteness of the area make policing the international waters at the bottom of the world extremely difficult, experts say.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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