Iraq: Radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political movement has ordered its six ministers to withdraw from the ruling coalition.
At a news conference in Baghdad today (Monday), lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie said the group was pulling out of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's unity government to press a demand for a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Rubaie read a statement he said had been made by Sadr, saying the ministries were being handed over to the government in hopes the positions would be given to independent groups wishing "to serve the interests of the people and the country."
Afghanistan: Officials in Afghanistan say a suicide bomber has killed nine policemen and wounded 25 others in the northern part of the country.
An Interior Ministry spokesman says today's (Monday's) attack occurred next to a police station in the city of Kunduz, where militant attacks are rare. The officers were outside doing morning exercises when the bomber struck. Authorities initially reported 10 deaths.
The suicide attack, 250 kilometers north of Kabul, is the third in Afghanistan in as many days.
On Sunday, a suicide bomber in southern Kandahar province killed four Afghan employees of a U.S.-owned private security firm in an attack on the company's convoy.
A suicide attack Saturday outside a police station in eastern Afghanistan's Khost province killed seven policemen.
Sudan – Darfur: The second highest U.S. diplomat has pressed Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeeping troops, and improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur.
At the end of a five-day trip to Sudan, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said today (Monday) that Sudan needs a larger, joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force with a single, unified command to improve the situation in Darfur. Sudan agreed to a hybrid force last November, but has not implemented the deal.
Khartoum is under international pressure to accept three-thousand U.N. troops and equipment to bolster the existing African Union force in Darfur, where fighting has killed more than 200-thousand people in recent years.
Thailand South: Thai police say suspected separatist militants have set fire to five schools in Thailand's south, where militants frequently target state-run institutions to protest the government's presence in the region.
Police said today (Monday) that a health office and a teacher's house also were set ablaze in Pattani province Sunday. No one was injured.
Authorities blame the attacks on militants believed to be fighting for a separate Muslim state in Thailand's three southernmost provinces, near Malaysia. The militants frequently target schools, which they say represent the Buddhist-dominated government.
Pattani has been particularly volatile over the past week, since Thai troops shot dead three teenagers in what police say was an act of self defense. Hundreds of Muslims protested the shooting Saturday.
China – Taiwan WHO: China's Foreign Ministry is dismissing Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization, saying the island is not eligible for membership.
Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said (late Sunday) that because the WHO is a U.N. agency, only sovereign nations can join. He says this rules out the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.
Taiwan announced last week that it will apply for full WHO membership, following a decade of failed attempts. Taiwan lost its membership to the WHO in 1972, a year after losing its seat in the United Nations to Beijing. China and Taiwan split at the end of a civil war in 1949. China continues to claim sovereignty over the island.
Indonesia Terrorism: Indonesian police say a regional terrorism network has set up a hit squad with a list of targets including police, judges and prosecutors.
Indonesia's top anti-terrorism office says police found evidence of the hit squad last month during a series of raids on the Jemaah Islamiyah, or J.I., network in central Java.
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