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Suicide Bomber Kills 6 in Pakistan


Pakistan Unrest: Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber has killed six people in Swat Valley, a day after the military said it drove out almost all pro-Taliban militants from the region after weeks of fighting.
Security officials say a policeman and five civilians, including two children, were killed today (Sunday) when the bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into a police checkpoint. Several people were wounded in the blast.
On Saturday, the army said some 290 militants have been killed and another 143 captured in scenic Swat Valley since major operations began last month to retake territory from pro-Taliban forces.
An army spokesman (Major General Nasser Janjua) says five soldiers and six civilians also were killed in the fighting, but that militant leader Maulana Fazlullah managed to flee to nearby mountains with at least 200 of his supporters.
In another incident today (Sunday), Pakistani police say unknown assailants fired at least three rockets at an air force base in the northwester city of Peshawar.

Afghan Violence: Afghan and NATO forces are moving in on Musa Qala in southern Helmand province as part of an operation to retake control of the town from the Taliban.
Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says the joint force of mostly British and Afghan troops are advancing on the town today (Sunday), and already have captured two senior Taliban commanders.
Taliban sources say insurgents have taken strong positions inside Musa Qala in preparation for the assault.
Afghan defense officials say ground forces killed 12 militants at the start of the operation late Friday.
Two children and a British soldier were also killed in the fighting.
Taliban militants overran Musa Qala in February, after British troops withdrew and handed over security responsibilities to local elders.
In Kabul today, British Defense Secretary Des Browne met with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak before flying to the western city of Herat.

Iran Nuclear: Iran's foreign ministry is dismissing allegations by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Tehran government is trying to create chaos in the Middle East.
Gates was speaking Saturday at a global security conference in Bahrain. He urged Gulf Arab states at the conference to support U.S.-led efforts to pressure Iran into suspending uranium enrichment -- a process that can be used in developing nuclear weapons.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman (Mohammad Ali Hosseini) said today (Sunday) that Gates was interfering in the domestic affairs of regional countries.
Tehran also is accusing Washington of using espionage to compile a new intelligence report (the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate) about Iran's nuclear program.
The U.S. report released last Monday says Tehran ended a nuclear weapons program in 2003. Iran has never acknowledged having a nuclear weapons program and says its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only.

Iran – US – Iraq: Iran's government says Baghdad is offering to host talks next month between the United States and Iran about Iraq's security situation.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman (Mohammad Ali Hosseini) said today (Sunday) Tehran is studying an Iraqi government proposal for a January meeting between U.S. and Iranian officials.
Washington and Tehran have held three rounds of talks about Iraq this year in Baghdad, breaking a 27-year freeze in diplomatic ties. The last meeting was in August.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said last month that Tehran agreed to a fourth round of talks with the U.S. but did not give a date. The U.S. and Iraqi governments have yet to announce a date for the next U.S.-Iran meeting.
Washington and Tehran have blamed each other for violence in Iraq, and their previous talks did not appear to make much progress.

CIA videotapes: CIA videotapes: The U.S. Justice Department and the CIA are working together on an inquiry into the destruction of recordings that showed American agents interrogating terrorist suspects.
The Justice Department released a letter (Saturday) confirming that officials from both agencies will meet during the next few days, in a preliminary effort to review what happened and decide whether a full-scale investigation is warranted.
The U.S. director of central intelligence (Michael Hayden) pledged the agency's cooperation and said an inquiry into the destruction of the videotapes is welcome.
News that the CIA tapes were destroyed two years ago has brought sharp protests from some members of Congress, and demands for further explanations by the intelligence agency.
The White House says President Bush was unaware of the CIA's action (until Thursday). Senior government officials have told reporters Mr. Bush's former counsel, Harriet Miers, had specifically instructed the CIA not to destroy the videotapes.

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