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3/15/06 World News in Lao: Israel Forces on Alert Following Tuesday's Raid on Palestinian Jail


Israel-Palestinians: Israeli security forces are on high alert for possible Palestinian reprisals, following the capture of a leading Palestinian militant after a siege at a West Bank jail Tuesday. Israeli troops took custody of Ahmed Saadat and at least four other militants, after a 10-hour siege of the prison in Jericho. Saadat is a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which claimed responsibility for the 2001 murder of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi.

Palestinians have staged a general strike to protest Israel's assault on a Palestinian jail and seizure of a group of militants who were being held there. Shops and schools in the Gaza Strip and the major towns in the West Bank are closed (today / Wednesday).

Thailand Politics: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says he is considering stepping down temporarily and appointing a caretaker leader to carry out political reforms demanded by the opposition. Mr. Thaksin has been accused of corruption and many people want him to resign. He did not indicate when he would step aside or for how long. During a campaign stop northeastern Thailand today (Wednesday), he said he will base his decision on what is good for the nation, and not be pressured by what he called mob rule.

Meanwhile, Thai officials have disqualified more than one-third of candidates for snap parliamentary elections called for April second by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand's three main opposition parties are also boycotting the vote - saying the only way to achieve political reform is if Mr. Thaksin steps down. As a result, Mr. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party is running unopposed in more than two-thirds of the constituencies.

Rice - Indonesia: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has praised Indonesia for its democratic development and its leadership role in Southeast Asia. She made the comments in a speech today (Wednesday) to an international relations forum in Jakarta, before wrapping up her two day visit to Indonesia. Rice commended Indonesia on becoming a young democracy after the autocratic rule of former president Suharto. The secretary of state also thanked Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for visiting Burma earlier this month to try to persuade its military rulers to follow Indonesia's democratic example.

Bird Flu: Health officials in Denmark have reported the country's first case of the H5 N1 strain of avian flu virus in a wild bird. Authorities did not confirm today (Wednesday) whether the bird was infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. Danish officials said details would be released later today. Meanwhile, Indian authorities are preparing to cull tens of thousands of chickens to contain the country's latest outbreak of bird flu. Officials said today they will kill at least 75-thousand birds around the site of the outbreak in the western state of Maharashtra.

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