AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say at least seven people were killed during fierce fighting in Kabul between security forces and militants with suspected links to Sunday's attack on President Hamid Karzai. Reports from the scene said five militants and two intelligence agents died today during an assault on a suspected Taliban hideout in a densely populated neighborhood of the capital. Several hours of fighting in the area involved small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Authorities said the fight ended when five militants blew themselves up inside the house.
CHINA - TIBET: Tibetan exiles and Chinese authorities have released separate details of recent violence in a Tibetan community in the western Chinese province of Qinghai. The Indian-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy and Chinese state media reported on violence in Darlag (Chinese: Dari) County. China's official Xinhua news agency says the county police chief, a Tibetan, was shot dead Monday while pursuing the ringleader of a local riot that happened last month. Xinhua says the alleged ringleader was killed when police returned fire.
OLYMPIC TORCH: The torch of the Beijing Olympic Games has arrived in Hong Kong. An elaborate red carpet ceremony marked the torch's arrival at the territory's airport today, with cheering supporters waving Chinese flags. The torch arrived from Vietnam, the final international stop of its journey. The torch has been at the center of persistent protests as it was carried across the globe. Relays have ignited protests over Beijing's human rights record and its crackdown on recent unrest in Tibet and other Tibetan regions of China. At least three pro-Tibet campaigners were deported in advance of the flame's arrival in Hong Kong.
NOKOR - FOOD CRISIS: Two U.S. experts on North Korea say the country is at risk of famine. Economist Marcus Noland says the situation in North Korea is at its worst since the end of a period of famine in the 1990s. Research by Noland and Stephan Haggard of the University of California shows that food prices in North Korea have almost tripled in the last year. The experts' calculations suggest that the situation in North Korea may be worse than the United Nations has predicted. Noland will present the pair's findings Wednesday at the Washington-based Peterson Institute (for International Economics) where he is a fellow.
INDONESIA - BIRD FLU: Health authorities in Indonesia have confirmed another bird flu fatality, raising the country's death toll from virus to 108. The latest victim is a three-year-old boy from a village in Central Java who died on April 23rd at a local hospital after suffering from respiratory problems. A spokeswoman from the Health Ministry says two laboratory tests confirmed the toddler was infected with the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus. The spokeswoman says investigators have found the child had contact with dead poultry.
INDONESIA - ABDUCTIONS: Authorities in Indonesia's Aceh province say five Chinese nationals kidnapped last week have been released unharmed. The abductees were found Tuesday in the mountainous jungle of the Gayo Lues district. They were among seven Chinese miners and one Indonesian abducted last Saturday in Gayo Lues and held for more than 30-thousand dollars in ransom. Two of the Chinese miners and the Indonesian were released unharmed the next day. The kidnappers have not been apprehended. The ransom demands were not met.
US - IRAN - MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iran is using the Palestinian militant group Hamas as a "proxy" army to destabilize the Middle East. She told a gathering of American Jewish leaders in Washington Tuesday that Hamas militants are serving as "proxy warriors" for an Iranian government bent on destroying Israel. Iran is a vocal supporter of Hamas but denies arming or training the group, which controls the Gaza Strip. Secretary Rice also said Washington is planning additional economic sanctions on Iran for its alleged involvement in terrorism and weapons proliferation.
SOMALIA - VIOLENCE: Somali witnesses say Ethiopian troops have shot dead at least 13 civilians after a roadside bomb exploded in the town of Baidoa. Witnesses said the soldiers opened fire in all directions today after at least one Ethiopian soldier was killed in the explosion. At least nine other people were reported injured in the gunfire. A similar incident took place Monday in Baidoa, when an explosion killed four Ethiopian soldiers. Two Somalis died in the resulting gunfire. Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's government come under frequent attack from Islamist insurgents.
WORLD MEDIA FREEDOM: A report by the U.S.-based organiza tion Freedom House says media freedom has declined around the world, continuing a six-year trend. The pro-democracy organization released its annual study of press freedom on Tuesday. Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor says this year's global survey indicates that setbacks in press freedom outnumber advances two to one. The report lists North Korea as the world's most repressive media environment, followed by newly added Eritrea, and then Burma, Cuba, Libya and Turkmenistan.
US - ECONOMY: The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to announce another cut in interest rates when it concludes a two-day meeting today in Washington. Observers say the central bank's Open Market Committee will likely impose a cut of a quarter of a percentage point, lowering the overall rate to just two percent. It would be the seventh time since last September the Federal Reserve has lowered the federal funds rate, which is the rate that banks and other depository institutions charge when they lend money to each other, usually on an overnight basis.
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