THAILAND-THAKSIN: Thailand's military-installed prime minister says former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is free to return from exile to challenge graft allegations against him. Interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont made the announcement today (Tuesday) in Bangkok. A bloodless coup last September removed Mr. Thaksin from power. He was abroad when the coup took place and has not returned since. Mr. Thaksin is living in exile in London. On Monday, an anti-graft committee in Thailand said it will freeze the assets of Mr. Thaksin and his wife, including 21 of the couple's bank accounts worth one-and-a-half billion dollars. The assets are from the sale of Thaksin's Shin Corporation telecom business to Singapore's Temasek Holdings.
CHINA FLOODS: China's official Xinhua news agency says at least 71 people have been killed in southern China in flooding and mudslides brought on by days of torrential rains. More stormy weather is expected in the coming days. Xinhua reports today (Tuesday) that 13 people are missing and more than 640-thousand have been forced from their homes. Worst hit is Guangdong province, where Xinhua says weather-related damage totals 160 million dollars. Downpours and flooding are also soaking the provinces of Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Fujian.
PALESTINIAN UNREST: The Palestinian presidency has accused Hamas leaders of trying to stage a coup as Hamas demands Fatah security forces abandon their positions in Gaza. A statement from the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah said Hamas is trying to seize control of Gaza by force. A short time later, Hamas issued an ultimatum for Fatah forces to leave their positions or face attack.
LEBANON: Two Red Cross workers and three Lebanese soldiers were killed in fighting Monday at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Lebanese officials say a shell hit the relief workers as Lebanese troops fought with al-Qaida-inspired militants based in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli. Gunfire also wounded a Muslim cleric trying to mediate an end to the violence. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the killing of the relief workers and the wounding of the cleric.
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