NATO says coalition troops killed at least 30 suspected Taleban militants in southern Afghanistan overnight. More than 320 militants have been killed in an intense week-long NATO-led operation against Taleban holdouts in the country. Meanwhile, security is tight across Kabul as Afghans commemorate the fifth anniversary of the assassination of anti-Taleban guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.
IRAQ: Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims gathered in Iraq's holy city of
Karbala for a religious festival. Iraqi authorities expect the number of pilgrims to top one million. Heavy security is in place across the city during the festival commemorating the birth of ninth-century Imam al-Mahdi al-Muntadar. In other developments today (Saturday), bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least two people. And, a gunman killed an employee of Iraq's government-run newspaper in the capital. Iraqi officials also announced Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is heading to Iran Monday. Officials say his two-day visit will focus on security and bilateral issues.
KHATAMI - US: Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has condemned the September 11th attacks against the United States, during a speech just outside Washington. Mr. Khatami said Friday two crimes were committed on September 11th five years ago - the killing of innocent people and making the attack in the name of Islam. He urged Muslims to work to counter what he called Islamaphobia.
THAILAND POL: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says the general election
scheduled for October 15th is likely to be delayed, a move that would extend Thailand's political crisis. Mr. Thaksin said today (Saturday) he expects a delay to allow take time for newly-selected election commissioners to receive formal approval from the king. Thailand's Senate voted late Friday to select five new election commissioners, including four senior judges and a top public prosecutor. They will replace several former election officials convicted of illegally helping Mr. Thaksin's ruling (Thai Rak Thai) party in April's snap election.
TAIWAN - CHEN PROTEST: Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to demand the resignation of President Chen Shui-bian. Most demonstrators dressed in red to symbolize their anger toward their leader. Many protesters also gave a "thumbs down" sign as they shouted for Mr. Chen to step down. The main organizer of today's (Saturday) protest is Shih Ming-teh, a former chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which is now led by Mr. Chen. Shih is calling for Mr. Chen to quit over a series of corruption scandals involving his family and senior officials. Mr. Chen denies any wrongdoing. After marching through Taipei's streets, the protesters began a sit in near the Presidential Office building, which they plan to continue until next Friday.
CHINA - MAO ANNIVERSARY: China is observing a low-key remembrance day for
former leader Mao Zedong, who died 30 years ago today (Saturday). The Chinese government is not holding any official events to mark the anniversary. Observers say Chinese leaders want to avoid stirring up bitter memories about Mao's 27-year rule, widely considered responsible for claiming tens of millions of lives. Chinese state-run newspapers are largely ignoring the anniversary.
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