Pakistani military officials say they are in the final stages of rooting out Islamic militants holed up in Islamabad's Red Mosque, a day after troops began an assault on the complex. Officials say Pakistani forces are clearing out a residential area of the mosque's compound today (Wednesday). More than 50 militants and eight Pakistani soldiers were killed as troops raided the compound on Tuesday. Among those killed was the cleric leading resistance at the mosque, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who advocated strict Taleban-style Islamic law in Pakistan.
Philippine officials say Islamic militants have killed 14 marines, beheading 10 of them, during the heaviest fighting in recent months in the country's restive south. A Marine spokesman (Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan) said today (Wednesday) that about 50 marines searching for a kidnapped Italian priest were attacked by about 300 insurgents, mainly from the Abu Sayyaf rebel group. Nine marines were wounded in the fighting in Tipo Tipo, on the southern island of Basilan.
Chinese state media say floods and landslides caused by torrential rainfall have killed at least 360 people across China this summer. The official Xinhua news agency says most of the deaths have occurred in southwestern Sichuan province. It says the floods have affected 40 counties in the province, submerging four downtown areas and bursting two dams. Xinhua says that nationwide, the floods have destroyed more than 200-thousand houses and affected more than four million hectares of grain crops. Authorities put the direct economic losses at more than three-billion dollars.
NOKOR-MEDICINE: A South Korean pharmaceutical group says it has sent about three million dollars worth of medicines to North Korea. The Korea Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association says it sent the medicines in May, at the request of the North Korean Red Cross. It says the North's Red Cross had sent a letter in February requesting drugs to treat tuberculosis, pneumonia and other diseases -- even if they were outdated. The pharmaceutical group says it declined the request for drugs past their expiration date because of safety concerns.
THAILAND-POL: The general who led Thailand's military coup last year says he has not decided whether to run for a parliamentary seat in a general election promised for later this year. General Sonthi Boonyaratglin denied a a "Bangkok Post" newspaper article today (Wednesday) that says two political parties now being organized are interested in fielding him as a parliamentary candidate. The general says he has not thought about his future after he faces mandatory retirement from the army in September.
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