THAILAND-LAOS: Thai foreign ministry officials say they have reached an agreement to deport more than 65 hundred ethnic minority Hmong refugees back to Laos where the Hmong say they could face persecution. Ministry officials made the announcement today (Monday) following a meeting between Thailand's Prime Minister Surayut Chulalont and his Laotian counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh. In response, the spokeswoman (Kitty Mckinsey) for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is urging the Thai government to screen all the refugees before they return to Laos. The spokeswoman said that while it was likely that most were migrants, some may be in need of protection. So far, the Thai government has refused to grant the U.N. access to the refugees to determine their reasons for fleeing.
PALESTINIANS: Rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions fought pitched battles in the Gaza Strip today (Tuesday), two days after announcing a ceasefire. Hospital officials say at least three people -- one Hamas policeman and two Fatah security men -- were killed. They say several civilians, including many children, were also wounded. The clashes broke out at the Shifa Hospital, on the streets of Gaza City and near the headquarters of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian intelligence service.
THAILAND STOCK MARKET: Thailand's stock market has suffered its biggest ever one-day plunge after the central bank took drastic action to stop the rise in value of the Thai baht. The main stock index in Bangkok tumbled almost 15 percent as panic selling wiped out 28 billion dollars of the market's value. The Bank of Thailand announced Monday a series of measures to discourage inflows of foreign capital, which have caused the baht to jump about 14 percent against the dollar since the start of this year.
INDONESIA-EARTHQUAKE: Aid workers in Indonesia are struggling to get supplies to hundreds of people made homeless by Monday's earthquake in northern Sumatra. The magnitude five-point-eight quake hit a remote part of North Sumatra province before dawn Monday, killing four people and injuring about 30. Authorities lowered the death toll after initially reporting seven people killed.
IRAN-NUCLEAR: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has again threatened retaliation if the U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions because of Tehran's nuclear program. In a speech today (Tuesday -- in the Western Iranian city of Kermanshah), Mr. Ahmadinejad warned Britain, France and Germany that Iran will consider their support for U.N. sanctions as "an act of hostility."
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