THAILAND-LAOS-HMONG: The United Nations refugee agency says it is concerned about the fate of a group of ethnic Hmong being deported from Thailand. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says the agency has been working with the Hmong to resettle them in other countries. Struggles broke out today (Tuesday) as Thailand tried to send at least 150 Hmong to neighboring Laos. A U.S.-based Hmong lobby group, the Fact Finding Commission, says at least two Hmong women who refused to get on deportation trucks in the northeastern Thai town of Nong Khai were beaten by authorities. Later, Government officials in Thailand say they will delay the deportation of about 150 ethnic Hmong refugees, after several western countries( the United Stes, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands) agreed to consider accepting them for resettlement.
IRAQ: Iraqi officials say at least 36 people were killed in two separate bombings that targeted Shi'ite Muslims performing rituals for Ashura observances today (Tuesday). Police say at least 23 people were killed and nearly 60 others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of a Shi'ite mosque near the town of Mandali, close to the Iranian border. In the nearby town of Khanaqin, at least 13 people died and about 40 others were wounded when a bomb exploded amid hundreds of Shi'ites marching toward a mosque.
PALESTINIAN FIGHTING: A calm is taking hold in the Gaza Strip as the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions observe a ceasefire after five days of intense fighting. Palestinian security officials said no major violence has been reported anywhere in Gaza since the truce went into effect early today (Tuesday -- 3 a.m. local time or 0100 UTC). Announcing the ceasefire, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar said both factions should release their hostages and remove roadblocks.
CHINA-AFRICA: Chinese President Hu Jintao begins an eight-nation tour of Africa today (Tuesday) aimed at boosting economic and political ties with the continent. Mr. Hu left Beijing this (Tuesday) morning for Cameroon. During his 12-day journey, he also will visit Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles. China's official Xinhua News Agency says Mr. Hu will use the trip to follow through on aid pledges made to African leaders at a summit in Beijing in November.
SPAIN-ARGENTINA-PERON: Spanish authorities say they will not decide whether to extradite former Argentine President Isabel Peron until Buenos Aires has lodged a formal request for her return. Mrs. Peron is wanted for questioning in Argentina about whether she is connected to a right-wing paramilitary organization accused of a series of kidnappings and killings during her administration from 1974 to 1976. The Argentina Anti-Communist Alliance is accused of killing at least 15-hundred people throughout the 1970's.
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