China came to a standstill for three minutes today (Monday) as the public mourned the tens of thousands of victims of last Monday's powerful earthquake. Across the country, air raid sirens and car, train and ship horns blared at 2:28 p.m. (0628 UTC) to mark the exact time the seven-point-nine earthquake struck Sichuan province seven days ago, killing more than 34-thousand people. Authorities expect the final death toll could be above 50-thousand.
Burma has agreed to let its Southeast Asian neighbors coordinate foreign assistance for cyclone victims. After an emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore today (Monday), the city-state's foreign minister, George Yeo, said Burma would accept international assistance. The news came after Burma's ruling military allowed U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes to tour the Irrawaddy delta today, which was hit May third by Cyclone Nargis.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has quit the ruling UMNO party to protest the leadership of his hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The "Star" newspaper said today (Monday) that Mr. Mahathir urged other party members to quit also, but told them not to join any opposition party. He said they could rejoin UMNO (- United Malays National Organization -) once there is a change in leadership. Mr. Mahathir has been strongly critical of Prime Minister Abdullah since UMNO lost heavily in March general elections.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military says
a day of fierce fighting in the island's north has killed at least 61 Tamil rebels and at least 15 soldiers. The military said today (Monday) that government soldiers fought several battles with the rebels Sunday in the districts of Mannar, Vavuniya and elsewhere. The rebels have not commented on the report, and the deaths could not be independently verified because the government prohibits journalists and rights workers from visiting the conflict zones.
PAKISTAN VIOLENCE: Taliban militants in Pakistan are claiming responsibility for a suicide attack that killed 13 people outside an army base in Pakistan's volatile northwest. Militant spokesman Maulvi Omar said today (Monday) that the Tehrik-e-Taliban group carried out Sunday's bombing in the city of Mardan. He said the group was seeking revenge for military operations carried out by Pakistani and foreign coalition forces. Omar specifically condemned a missile strike that killed 14 people in northwestern Pakistan's Bajaur region last week. Pakistan's army says coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan carried out the attack.