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23 Taleban Militants Killed in Clashes in Southern Afghanistan


AFGHANISTAN: Officials in Afghanistan say at least 23 Taleban militants and two policemen have been killed in clashes in the southern part of the country. The governor of Khost province says NATO airstrikes killed 13 Taleban fighters as they retreated from a gun battle with Afghan police, who called for air support. Five policemen were wounded. The Taleban fighters had attacked a government building.

TALEBAN - FRENCH HOSTAGES: French officials have confirmed the Taleban has freed one of two French aid workers the militants have been holding captive in Afghanistan for the last three weeks. A foreign ministry statement issued today said a worker for the children's aid group Terre d'Enfance had been released, but it did not indicate which hostage. Taleban militants had been holding a French woman and man known only as Eric, as well as three of their Afghan colleagues since April third.

IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says U.S. fighter jets have destroyed a truck rigged with explosives near Fallujah, while Iraqi police say militants have killed at least 13 people in Baghdad. The military says the truck bomb was discovered Friday after questioning a militant detained near Fallujah. In Baghdad today, police say gunmen opened fire on a vehicle driving through a Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhood, killing four of the seven people in the vehicle, including at least one Iraqi humanitarian worker.

EU - TURKEY: A European Union official has warned Turkey's military to stay out of politics after it expressed concern about the election of a new president. Olli Rehn, the EU expansion affairs commissioner said today that the election was a "test case" for the Turkish military's respect for democracy. The military issued a statement of concern Friday after Abdullah Gul, the candidate of the Islamic-rooted ruling (A.K.) party, failed to win enough votes in Parliament to become president in the first round of balloting.

CHINA - TAIWAN: Chinese President Hu Jintao is calling for closer economic and cultural relations with Taiwan to maintain peace in the region, and to curb what he calls the island's "secessionist activities." China's official Xinhua news agency says Mr. Hu made the comments today in Beijing at a forum on China and Taiwan business ties. Xinhua says that during the forum, the Chinese leader met with the honorary chairman of Taiwan's main opposition party, Lien Chan.

CHINA - US - TIBET: Five Americans who were detained and deported by China earlier this week for holding a pro-Tibetan independence demonstration on the base of Mount Everest say they feared for their lives while in Chinese custody. The five, including a Tibetan-American, arrived Friday in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. The activists told reporters there today they were psychologically intimidated while in custody.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel's military says troops have shot four armed Palestinians planting explosives near the border between Gaza and Israel, killing three of the gunmen. The military said troops spotted the four Palestinians near the border fence today and opened fire, killing three and wounding one. Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians in fighting a week ago.

ESTONIA - RUSSIA: Estonian police have clashed with hundreds of mostly ethnic-Russian protesters for a second straight night Friday following the removal of a controversial Soviet World War Two-era statue from central Tallinn. Police used water cannon and rubber bullets to hold off protesters, who responded by throwing bottles and rocks. Authorities say about 300 people were detained, and about 10 injuries were reported.

BURMA - NOKOR: North Korea's vice foreign minister has wrapped up a four-day trip to Burma that culminated in the two countries re-establishing diplomatic relations. Speaking today in Rangoon before returning to Pyongyang, Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Yong Il, says he was satisfied with his trip. During talks Thursday between Burma's deputy foreign minister, Kyaw Thu, and Mr. Kim, the two countries decided to re-established diplomatic relations.

THAILAND - UNREST: Police in southern Thailand say at least one gunman has opened fire on the same mosque where three years ago security forces killed 32 suspected militants, fueling an Islamic insurgency. Officials say around 20 men were praying in the Krue Se Mosque today in Pattani province when the attack happened. No one was injured. Thai officials have not said who they suspect carried out the attack.

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