PAKISTAN - MOSQUE:
The top cleric at a radical mosque under siege by Pakistani troops in the capital of Islamabad says he would rather die than accept government surrender terms. Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the senior cleric at the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid), said today hundreds of followers still inside the mosque will - in his words - "be martyred, but we will not surrender." The defiant Ghazi made his comments in a television interview as more gunshots and explosions were heard at the mosque on the third day of the government siege.
BRITAIN - TERROR: Australian police have searched two hospitals
in Western Australia in connection with last week's failed car-bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. Federal police commissioner Mick Keelty said police seized computer files and other materials from hospitals in the state capital Perth and the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie today. The raids came after an Indian doctor was arrested Monday in the eastern Australian city of Brisbane. The 27-year old Mohamed Haneef is one of eight suspects who are all doctors or worked for Britain's national health service. He is the only one held outside Britain.
EAST TIMOR: East Timor's former president and independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, says he has formed an alliance with two other parties in a bid to form a new government following parliamentary elections. Mr. Gusmao says his National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor, or CNRT, has teamed up with the Democratic Party and the Association of Timorese Democrats-Social Democratic Party. The CNRT came in second place in Saturday's parliamentary elections with 24 percent of the vote. The ruling Fretilin party won the most votes - 29 percent - far short of a majority to govern alone. Fretilin also has been trying to establish alliances to form a coalition government.
THAILAND - POLITICS: A military-appointed council in Thailand has
approved the final draft of a new constitution, which is now expected to face a national referendum next month. The Constitution Drafting Council unanimously approved the draft today. The document would reduce the number of parliamentarians, and military leaders say it will limit the prime minister's powers. Thailand's military government scrapped the 1997 constitution after seizing power from then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a peaceful coup last year. Mr. Thaksin's supporters are expected to oppose the draft when it comes up for a public referendum next month.
BURMA ACTIVISTS: Burmese state media say the country's military government has released five political activists from detention. "The New Light of Myanmar" says three current members and one former member of the opposition National League for Democracy were released Thursday after being, what the newspaper called, "educated." The report says they were detained May 15th for inciting public unrest and instability. The activists were among a group of about 50 people who joined a prayer vigil in Rangoon to call for the release of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The newspaper says another activist detained in April for protesting high taxes also was released Thursday.
JAPAN - DEFENSE: Japan's Cabinet has approved a defense report
that urges the country to quickly finish building a missile defense system to counter the potential threat from North Korea. Japan's annual defense report released today warns that North Korea's missile and nuclear programs are becoming increasingly advanced. The report recommends greater cooperation between Japan and the United States on the defense shield and other security issues. The defense report expresses concern about China's growing military strength, a position shared by the U.S. It also outlines the creation of a new Central Readiness Force.
CHINA - HEALTH - POLITICS: A Beijing court has handed a suspended death sentence to a top food and drug official for bribery charges. The court today convicted Cao Qenchuang of accepting bribes while he was heading the drug registration division of China's State Food and Drug Administration. Suspended death sentences are often commuted to time in prison. Cao's superior (, Zheng Xiaoyu,) was sentenced to death in May for taking more than 830-thousand dollars in bribes to approve hundreds of drugs, some of which were substandard. One antibiotic approved by the regulator caused at least 10 deaths.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed three
terrorists and detained eight suspected insurgents in al-Anbar province, west of Baghdad. In a statement, the military said today that coalition forces captured a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member who is allegedly responsible for overseeing terrorist attacks, as well as attempting to promote jihadist propaganda. Thursday, a car bomb ripped through guests of a wedding party in Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding about 25 others. Iraqi officials say some of those killed were children, and that the bride and groom were among the wounded.
AFGHANISTAN: NATO officials in Afghanistan say three troops from the international force have been killed and several others wounded in two separate incidents in the eastern part of the country. International Security Assistance Force authorities announced the deaths today, but did not give the nationalities of the victims. Most NATO troops in the region are Americans. Two NATO soldiers were killed Thursday during a military operation. Authorities said other NATO and Afghan troops were wounded, along with a civilian contractor. A third NATO soldier was killed (Thursday) by a roadside bomb.
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