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Pakistan Elections Delayed Until February 18th


PAKISTAN: Election officials in Pakistan say parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for next week, will be delayed until February 18th, due to the violence following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq made the announcement in a news conference today. He appealed to the country's political parties to accept the decision. Election officials in Pakistan are meeting to set a new date for parliamentary elections, after last week's assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto threw preparations for the January 8th vote into disarray. (News Updates)

KENYA: The head of the African Union is traveling to Kenya today to try and mediate an end to the post-election violence that has rocked the eastern African nation. The visit by Ghanian President John Kufour comes one day after 30 people were killed when a mob set fire to a church in the western town of Eldoret. The victims had fled into the church to seek refuge from the violence. Witnesses say the fire was set by a gang of young men who poured fuel on the structure before setting it ablaze.

SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan police say at least four people have been killed in a bombing in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. Officials say the bomb went off as an army bus carrying wounded soldiers passed a busy intersection near a small hotel in Colombo's (Slave Island) commercial district. Twenty-four people, including 11 soldiers, were also injured in the blast. A military spokesman (Udaya Nanayakkara) blamed the explosion on Tamil Tiger rebels. In other news, Sri Lanka's military says its troops killed at least 25 Tamil Tiger rebels in separate incidents Monday and Tuesday in the north of the country.

US POL: Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will engage in a final day of campaigning across (the midwestern U.S. state of) Iowa today, the last day before the state's party nominating caucuses. On the Democratic side, the race remains a three-way battle among Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barak Obama, and former Senator John Edwards. Many recent polls show a virtual tie among the trio, although one newspaper survey (the "Des Moines Register") showed Senator Obama in the lead. He and Senator Clinton are planning to run two-minute television ads tonight on local stations throughout Iowa.

CHINA - NOKOR: Chinese flag carrier Air China has delayed the launch of a new regular route to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, insisting the move was not linked to the North's nuclear disarmament process. Air China said today that it had postponed the opening of the new route until March. The airline plans to fly three days a week between Beijing and Pyongyang. Company officials said a busy flight schedule had triggered the delay and denied it had anything to do with "politics" or the six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

CHINA - OLYMPICS - MEDIA: Foreign journalists in China say they continue to face official interference, despite new rules relaxing media restrictions ahead of the Summer Olympics. The Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents Club of China Tuesday said it had recorded more than 180 incidents of interference - including beatings and intimidation - in 2007. The group noted that officials continue to obstruct foreign reporting in China's minority-dominated western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. But the group also said new rules introduced by Chinese authorities generally have improved reporting conditions for foreign journalists.

THAILAND - PRINCESS OBIT: Thailand's Royal Household Bureau says Princess Galyani Vadhana died today at the age of 84. The elder sister of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej had been hospitalized since June of last year and was undergoing treatment for abdominal cancer at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital. Officials said in a statement that the princess' condition had been deteriorating gradually and that she died in the early morning hours. The palace announced a 100-day mourning period and that the princess' funeral would be held at Bangkok's Grand Palace. Princess Galyani was born May sixth, 1923, in London, England.

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