BBC reporter Alan Johnston,
released today (Wednesday) by kidnappers in the Gaza Strip, says "It is just the most fantastic thing to be free." Johnston gave a news conference today before leaving for Jerusalem in the company of British diplomats. He said his captors, militants known as the Army of Islam, allowed him to have a radio that helped him keep up with what was going on during his four months of captivity.
Several hundred religious students, mostly women, have walked out of a mosque in Pakistan's capital after the government set a deadline for them to surrender. But, leaders of the besieged mosque remain inside. Government officials had given students until 0600 UTC today (Wednesday) (11 a.m. local time) to lay down their arms and come out. No violent incidents have been reported. Hundreds more students still remain inside.
NOKOR-NUCLEAR: South Korea says it will send North Korea a shipment of heavy fuel next week, as part of North Korea's agreement to shut down its main nuclear reactor. A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said today (Wednesday) the delivery will include between five-thousand and 10-thousand tons of heavy fuel. Seoul has promised to send about 50-thousand tons in all.
CHINA-ALAVERY TRIAL: Trials began today
(Wednesday) in northern China's Shanxi province for 12 people charged in connection with slave labor practices at brick kilns and mines. China's official Xinhua news agency says the 12 defendants have been charged with illegal detention, forced labor and murder. The slave labor ring was exposed in June after Chinese authorities raided thousands of brick factories in the provinces of Shanxi and Henan.
U.S INDEPENDENCE DAY: Today (Wednesday) is the
Independence Day holiday in the United States, celebrating this country's birth as an independent nation 231 years ago. President Bush will travel to (the northeastern city of) Martinsburg, West Virginia to visit soldiers and families attached to a National Guard unit based in the city. On the Fourth of July in 1776, Americans in what is now the United States declared their independence from Britain. The historic document signed on that day will be read aloud and honored during a ceremony today (at the National Archives) in Washington, and in other locations around the country.
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