PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani security officials say at least 30 militants, possibly including a top commander, have been killed in airstrikes in northwestern Pakistan. They say today that fighter jets started pounding militant hideouts in the Swat Valley late Friday.A military spokesman says Pakistan forces are working to flush militants from the area.The operation in Swat follows the Pakistani government's offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in Bajaur tribal region.More than 500 militants have been killed and thousands of people have been displaced since the Bajaur operation began.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan officials are blaming Tamil Tiger rebels for a bomb blast that rocked the capital of Colombo today, wounding 45 people.Sri Lankan officials say the bomb was placed near a fruit vendor in the city's commercial district, not far from the central bus station.A military spokesman told reporters Tamil rebels were likely behind the attack.He called them desperate, and accused them of targeting civilians because of a series of military defeats along the northern front lines.Earlier this week, Sri Lankan leaders urged civilians in the northern part of the country to flee to government-held areas, as troops closed in on the administrative capital of the rebels.
INDIA - FLOODS: A boat searching for survivors in flood-ravaged eastern India has capsized, pushing the official death toll from flooding to more than 80.Officials in the state of Bihar said today that at least 20 people died when the overcrowded boat was caught by strong river currents and overturned. Before the accident, Indian officials had blamed the severe flooding for 65 deaths, although aid workers say the death toll is likely much higher and expected to rise.Officials say more than two million people have been affected by floodwaters in Bihar state, and that it could be months before some will able to return to whatever is left of their homes.
HURRICANE GUSTAV: The U.S. National Weather Service says hurricane Gustav has increased in intensity, with winds reaching 180 kilometers per hour as it crosses the Caribbean towards Cuba. More than 80 deaths in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have been attributed to Gustav, which is now being called a "major hurricane."It is expected to hit western Cuba today, and is heading toward the southern United States, including New Orleans, which was devastated by hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago.Forecasters say Gustav could produce more than 50 centimeters of rain in some areas, triggering life-threatening flash floods and land slides.
US POLITICS: U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has chosen a relative unknown
-- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin -- as his vice presidential running
mate.McCain announced his selection Friday to a crowd of
supporters at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, ahead of
next week's Republican National Convention. He called Palin the "right partner"
with strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion.The social
and economic conservative is the first woman to run on the Republican party's
national ticket. Democratic candidate Barack Obama has begun a bus tour
of key battleground states with his running mate, fellow Senator Joe Biden.
THAILAND PROTESTS: Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej says he will not resign, despite growing street protests aimed at ousting his seven-month-old government.Mr. Samak repeated his refusal to step down at a ceremony today to honor Thailand's royal family.He made the appearance after returning to Bangkok today from an audience with revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.Mr. Samak flew to the southern town of Hua Hin late Friday to brief the king at his palace about days of protests demanding the prime minister's resignation.
CHINA - QUAKE: The U.S. Geological Survey says a five-point-seven earthquake struck today in China's southwestern Sichuan province.The agency says the quake hit 30 kilometers southeast of Panzhihua at a depth of 10 kilometers. Chinese officials say there have been no immediate reports of damage or injuries. On May 12th, an earthquake in Sichuan province killed nearly 70-thousand people and left millions more homeless.The Chinese government says it will cost nearly 150-billion dollars to rebuild areas devastated by the massive quake.A government reconstruction plan says thousands of schools are among the structures that need to be rebuilt.
ZIMBABWE TALKS: State media in Zimbabwe say President Robert Mugabe's party has rejected the opposition's latest power-sharing demands."The Herald" newspaper reports today that the ruling ZANU-PF has dismissed the suggestion that the Cabinet be co-chaired by Mr. Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as "stunning ignorance on how government works."The harsh words come just a day after power-sharing talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change resumed in South Africa.
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