Afghanistan: Afghan and international forces have initiated an attempt to rescue 23 South Korean hostages their pro-Taleban captors have threatened to kill within hours.
Military officials said today (Sunday) the rescue mission was under way south of Kabul. It began shortly after a South Korean delegation arrived in Afghanistan to start negotiations aimed at winning the release of the Christian evangelical hostages, who were abducted Thursday.
The Taleban set a Sunday night deadline (seven p.m. local time - 1430 UTC) for an answer to its ultimatum that all South Korean troops leave Afghanistan. South Korea has said it will bring its 200 troops home by the end of the year, as had already been scheduled.
Negotiations over the fate of the South Korean hostages will occur as authorities try to confirm the fate of two Germans taken hostage by Taleban militants last week.
The Taleban claims to have killed both Germans, but Afghan and German authorities say they believe one hostage died of a heart attack and the other is still alive. Afghan officials said today (Sunday) that they have recovered the body of one German but the cause of death was not immediately known.
Pakistan: Pakistani military officials say troops have killed 19 pro-Taleban militants in two clashes in the North Waziristan tribal area that has been the scene of increased violence recently.
The military said today (Sunday) that militants tried to attack army positions Saturday, but the attacks were foiled and 13 militants were killed. No government troops were reported hurt of killed. The military says six more militants were killed today (Sunday) in a separate gun battle that left at least six government troops injured
In the United States, President Bush said (Saturday) Washington fully supports Pakistan's government in its efforts to oust al-Qaida and Taleban extremists from tribal areas near the Afghanistan border.
Mr. Bush says a new U.S. intelligence report links al-Qaida's resurgence in Pakistan to a deal that (Pakistani) President Pervez Musharraf made with tribal leaders last year.
General Musharraf agreed to withdraw troops from the border zone after tribal leaders promised they would not allow Taleban or al-Qaida fighters to use the area.
Israel – Palestinians: Palestinian officials say Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip today (Sunday).
The Israeli army confirmed that troops shot two Palestinians approaching the border fence with Israel.
Israeli troops often cross into the Gaza Strip to try to prevent armed infiltrations. Israel also conducts raids in the area to try to prevent militants from launching rockets into Israel.
Turkey Elections: Millions of voters in Turkey are crowding into polling stations for parliamentary elections pitting the Islamic-oriented ruling party against nationalists and other challengers.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party is expected to win a new five-year mandate, although it could lose ground in the 550-seat parliament to opposition leader Deniz Baykal and his Republican People's Party.
One other group, the Nationalist Party, is expected to gain at least 10 percent of the vote - the threshold for party representation in parliament. To avoid that requirement, a number of politicians are running without party affiliation.
Opinion surveys indicate that more than 30 independent candidates could win seats. Among them are several Kurdish political figures, who would be returning to parliament for the first time since the 1990s.
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