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Suicide Attack Near Pakistani President's Office Kills 7, Musharraf Safe


PAKISTAN BLAST: Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber has killed at least seven people near the headquarters of President Pervez Musharraf, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Eleven people were reported wounded in the attack. Authorities say the blast occurred at a police checkpoint on a main road in the city, a short distance from President Musharraf's office. The authorities say General Musharraf was safely in his office at the time of the blast. A double suicide attack in Rawalpindi on September fourth killed 25 people, many of them on a Defense Ministry bus.

CHAD - FRANCE: Officials in Chad say a judge has charged 16 Europeans with kidnapping and other offenses after they tried to fly 103 African children out of the country to live with families in France. Officials say the judge in the eastern town of Abeche charged nine French citizens late Monday with abduction and fraud. The French nationals include six members of the charity Zoe's Ark and three journalists. The Chadian judge also charged seven Spanish crew members of a charter plane with complicity in what prosecutors are calling a kidnapping attempt.

NIGERIA - OIL WORKERS: Nigerian militants have freed six foreign oil workers abducted last week from an Italian oil ship off the coast of southern Nigeria. Italian energy company Eni says the Polish and Indian workers were released today and are in good health. Gunmen in speedboats kidnapped the workers last Friday from a ship (the "Mystras") about 80 kilometers off the Nigerian coast. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for the abduction. The Nigerian rebel group had suspended attacks on Niger Delta oil facilities after President Umaru Yar'Adua took office in May promising to address rebel grievances.

SOMALIA - PIRACY: Maritime officials say pirates have hijacked a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. The origin of the ship is unclear. The head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program says the vessel is a South Korean cargo ship with 22 crew members on board. He says it was seized late Monday or early today. But a spokesman for the International Maritime Bureau (based in Malaysia) told the French news agency the captured ship is from North Korea. The vessel is the second to be seized by pirates off Somalia's coast in recent days.

BURMA: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is calling for a fresh approach to the way the international community works to bring democracy to Burma. Speaking with reporters in Bangkok, on the second leg of his Asian tour, Kouchner said it would be impossible to change Burma's "military regime" overnight. He said trying to do so would be counter-productive. Kouchner did not give many details, but did question the effectiveness of sanctions against Burma. Instead he suggested the international community work more closely together to prod Burma to change.

VIETNAM - NOKOR: North Korea's second highest ranking official, Premier Kim Yong Il, has concluded the Vietnam leg of a rare foreign tour. Kim spoke Monday of North Korea and Vietnam's shared communist roots and his hope for closer ties. He spoke during a ceremony held at the former residence of Vietnamese revolutionary leader and first president, Ho Chi Minh. The head of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party, Nong Thuc Manh, says Vietnam has long desired to play a role as mediator between North Korea and the rest of the world. On Saturday, officials from both nations signed agreements on agriculture, sports, tourism and cultural exchanges.

CHINA - ASEAN - FOOD SAFETY: Chinese and Southeast Asian ministers and representatives have issued a statement promising to strengthen food safety cooperation. The joint statement was signed Monday in the southern city of Nanning (capital of Guangxi province), where China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held a two-day meeting on food safety. The countries promised to encourage exchanges of food safety information and to cooperate in combatting the illegal food trade. Separately, China published a statement on a government Web site Monday claiming 774 people have been arrested during a recent food and drug safety crackdown.

NOKOR - TALKS: The top U.S. negotiator in nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea is in China to discuss ongoing efforts to permanently disable the North's nuclear weapons program. After arriving in Beijing today, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was upbeat about the progress of the six-party talks, but said there was still a lot to do before the end of the year. In addition to meeting with Chinese officials during his two-day stop in Beijing, Hill will meet with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye Kwan.

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