IRAQ: Iraqi police say at least 25 people have been killed and several others wounded in a fierce clash between Sunni Arabs and al-Qaida - linked militants near the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. The fighting erupted early today, when dozens of militants attacked two small towns and executed three young men and the Imam of a local mosque. Residents fought back. A local police chief (Brig. Gen. Ali Dilayan) said at least 10 militants were killed in the fighting and several women also died in the cross-fire. He said other attackers retreated, taking at least five women as hostages.
BURMA - PROTEST: Reports from Burma say at least 30
demonstrators have staged a new protest against a steep rise in fuel prices imposed by the country's military government, the third such rally this week. Shortly after protesters began their march today in Rangoon, they were met by about 20 government supporters. Witnesses say some of the demonstrators were beaten, dragged into vehicles and driven away. The fuel price protests began on Sunday, and witnesses say some 300 people participated in a rally Wednesday just one day after the government arrested 13 activists.
WORLD HEALTH THREATS: The World Health Organization says infectious diseases are spreading around the world at a faster rate than ever before, making them more difficult to treat. In its annual World Health Report, issued today, the United Nations agency says one or more new diseases have been identified every year since the 1970s, a rate it says is "unprecedented." The agency also says efforts to control such well-known diseases as tuberculosis have been compromised as they evolve into stronger, more drug-resistant forms. WHO says the spread of infectious diseases is due to growth of international air travel over the last 50 years.
AFGHAN - GERMANY HOSTAGE: A German engineer held hostage by Taleban militants in Afghanistan has appeared in a video appealing for help. The video shown on private Afghan television today shows the hostage slumped over and coughing. In the video, he says he is living in poor conditions and asked the Afghan government and German embassy to help secure his release. The man was one of two German engineers and four Afghans kidnapped by the Taleban in central Afghanistan last month. The other German engineer was shot to death by his captors after he suffered a circulatory collapse due to the strain of the kidnapping.
AFGHAN - VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say an attack on a police convoy in southern Afghanistan has killed at least three people and wounded 13. Police say a roadside bomb hit the convoy of vehicles in the town of Gereshk, in Helmand province today. Helmand is largely controlled by the Taleban and is Afghanistan's biggest producer of opium poppies. The province is at the center of the Taleban insurgency that Afghan and NATO troops have been fighting since the extremist group was driven from power in 2001. On Wednesday, Canada's military said a roadside bomb killed two Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter (50 kilometers) west of the southern city of Kandahar.
BANGLADESH: Bangladesh's military-backed government says it will lift a curfew for three hours today in the capital, Dhaka, and five other cities. The usually bustling streets of Dhaka were mainly deserted today, although some pedestrians and bicycle rickshaws have been seen making short trips. Some journalists report receiving warnings from authorities. The government imposed the indefinite curfew and temporarily cut mobile phone service Wednesday evening to try to control clashes between students and security forces at universities. One person was killed in the riots Wednesday. At least 150 others were injured.
NOKOR - FLOODS: South Korea has begun sending emergency aid across the peninsula's heavily fortified border to help North Korea cope with the aftermath of widespread flooding. Today's shipment is the first batch of seven-and-a-half million dollars worth of aid promised to North Korea. South Korean officials say they want to complete the aid shipments by the end of this month. The International Federation of Red Cross Societies says the flooding has almost completely wiped out North Korea's system of hospitals and clinics. The organization says people are getting sick because of poor hygiene and contaminated drinking water.
US - FLOODING: At least 22 people are dead after two storm
systems flooded much of the midwestern and southwestern United States in recent days. Many lakes and rivers have risen several meters above flood stage, washing out roads and bridges and forcing scores of people to evacuate their homes. The American Red Cross says more than four-thousand homes have been damaged or destroyed in Minnesota alone. Many parts of the states of Ohio and Wisconsin are under a state of emergency. Parts of Texas and Oklahoma are struggling to recover after Tropical Storm Erin dumped several centimeters of rain in those states.
Listen to our World News for details.