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Afghan Taliban Claim Responsibility Attack on US Intel Workers


AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide blast in eastern Afghanistan that killed eight Americans Wednesday. Employees of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency are reported to be among the dead. A Taliban spokesman (Zabiullah Mujahid) said Thursday that the attack on a U.S. base in Khost province was carried out by an Afghan army officer working for the militants. U.S. officials said the bomber got inside the base -- Forward Operating Base Chapman -- before he detonated his explosive vest near the facility's gym.

US - AIRLINE ATTACK: U.S. President Barack Obama will receive the results of a preliminary investigation Thursday into the security lapses that preceded the attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound jetliner on Christmas Day (last Friday). The focus of the probe appears to be aimed at the National Counterterrorism Center, the main agency charged with collecting and analyzing intelligence gathered by many key government agencies. Officials say the center failed to connect the various reports on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man suspected of attempting the attack.

US - INDONESIA - TERRORISM: The U.S. embassy in Indonesia says it has received warning of a New Year's Eve terrorist attack from the governor of the resort island of Bali. On Thursday, New Year's Eve, the U.S. embassy sent e-mails to American citizens quoting Bali's governor as saying that there was an indication of an attack in Bali. The embassy also urged U.S. citizens to keep a "low profile" and be "vigilant and prudent at all times". An embassy spokeswoman says the governor's message had been widely distributed to restaurants and cafes by the Bali Tourism Board.

INDONESIA - WAHID - FUNERAL: Thousands of mourners filled roads Thursday in Indonesia to say farewell to late President Abdurrahman Wahid, the country's first democratically elected president following the fall of military strongman Suharto. Wahid was buried near his home in East Java. Better known by his nickname Gur Dur, he died Wednesday at the age of 69 of complications arising from diabetes and strokes he had suffered. Current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led the memorial service. President Yudhoyono praised the late leader, calling him one of the best sons of the nation and one of its best statesmen.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani security forces have raided a hospital used by militants in the South Waziristan tribal region, killing at least four foreign fighters. Officials said Pakistani forces also arrested more than 20 suspected militants in Wana, the main town in the region that is a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. On Wednesday, the Taliban's main faction in Pakistan claimed responsibility for Monday's attack on a Shi'ite religious procession the southern city of Karachi that killed at least 43 people. A spokesman warned of more attacks in the coming days.

BRITAIN - BURMA: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written a personal letter of support to detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The letter, posted on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Web site Wednesday, says Britain will continue to do everything possible to encourage change and democracy in the military-ruled country. Mr. Brown said if the forthcoming 2010 elections in Burma are genuinely free and fair, the international community is ready to welcome Burma back into the community of nations.

US - CHINA STEEL: China is denouncing a ruling by a U.S. government trade agency to impose high duties (taxes) on Chinese-made steel pipe imports. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of setting duties between 10 and 16 percent on Chinese steel. China's Ministry of Commerce released a statement on its website Thursday saying it was "strongly dissatisfied" with the ITC's decision, but did not say whether it would retaliate against the U.S. U.S. steel companies and workers' unions brought the case to the commission, accusing Beijing of subsidizing Chinese steel makers, making the steel pipes very cheap to import.

NEW YEAR'S DAY 2010: As many cities around the world make last-minute preparations to bring in 2010, a handful of others in the Asia Pacific region have already said goodbye to 2009. Fireworks exploded over the skies of Auckland, New Zealand when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2010, becoming the first major city to celebrate New Year's Day. Auckland is one of a handful of cities which has already ushered out 2009 because of its location near the International Date Line. The worldwide celebratory mood is tempered by the lingering threat of terrorism, brought on the failed in-flight bomb attack of a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day, as well the global economic slowdown that hung over much of 2009.

Listen to our World News for details.

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