Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has met with his top advisers to discuss ending a nearly week-long standoff with Islamic militants holed up in an Islamabad mosque. The meeting was held today (Monday) as sporadic gunfire was heard near the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid), where scores of militants have refused orders to surrender. The government says the militants are holding hundreds of women hostage as human shields in hopes of preventing a possible assault on the mosque by government troops. The women attend a school in the mosque compound.
IAEA-NOKOR: The International Atomic Energy
Agency has approved sending a special mission to monitor the shutdown of North Korea's main nuclear facility. The new IAEA mission will begin once North Korea says it has received the first shipment of fuel oil pledged as part of its February disarmament agreement. That oil is expected to arrive later this week. Meeting today (Monday) in Vienna, the U.N. nuclear agency's 35-nation board also approved a new 401 million-dollar budget for the agency.
NIGER-KIDNAPPING: Chinese diplomats say a Chinese business executive who was kidnapped in Niger Friday is not in any danger. China Daily quotes the Chinese Embassy in Niger as saying that tribal rebels are holding the man (Zhang Guohua), but that his life is not under threat. The kidnap victim is said to be a senior manager at a uranium-prospecting company in Niger owned by a Chinese nuclear engineering firm.
CHINA FLOODS: Chinese state media say torrential rains have flooded parts of seven provinces in China, killing 94 people. The Xinhua news agency says 25 other people have been reported missing after high waters wept through their neighborhoods. Xinhua says more than 49-thousand homes have collapsed and another 240-thousand were damaged by the torrential rains, which began June 28th. A million hectares of farmland have been damaged, contributing to an estimated 257 million dollars in agricultural losses.
INDONESIA-BIRD FLU: Indonesian Health Ministry officials say a six-year-old boy has died of bird flu. Authorities say the boy died Sunday in a Jakarta hospital. He was from the city of Cilegon in Banten province. It is not clear how he contracted the disease. More Indonesians have been infected with bird flu than anywhere else in the world. One hundred-two Indonesians have tested positive for the H5N1 virus, 81 of whom have died.
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