SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military denies its forces caused any civilian casualties in an alleged aerial attack Sunday on a hospital in the northern war zone. In an interview with VOA, military spokesman Udaya Nanyakkara said the Tamil Tiger rebels are deliberately firing heavy artillery on civilians they are holding as human shields and blaming it on the military. Nanyakkara had previously said (to The Associated Press) the government stopped using heavy weaponry in its fight against the rebels. A government doctor in the combat zone said the early morning attack killed at least 257 people and wounded 815 others. The pro-rebel Web site TamilNet blames the Sri Lankan military for the attack on the hospital
IRAQ: U.S. House of IRAQ Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Iraq for an unannounced visit. An Iraqi government spokesman says the U.S. congressional leader is scheduled to meet with senior Iraqi officials. No other details of her trip have been released. Pelosi has been a top Democratic critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. She last visited the country in 2008 and met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010. A security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq calls for all U.S. forces to leave the country by the end of 2011.
IRAN-US JOURNALIST: The lawyer for jailed Iranian-American Roxana Saberi says he is optimistic about her fate, saying the Iranian appeal court's atmosphere was "favorable" when he presented her defense. Saberi's lawyer (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi) said he expects the court in Tehran to make its decision regarding Saberi's eight-year prison sentence within the next few days. The 32-year-old freelance journalist was found guilty last month on charges of espionage. Her family and the U.S. government say the charges against her are baseless. Saberi's father (Reza Saberi) says the journalist ended a hunger strike Monday at Evin prison after refusing to eat for nearly two weeks. Witnesses to Sunday's closed-door proceedings say Saberi appeared tired and thin when she arrived at the courthouse.
POPE-MIDEAST: Pope Benedict celebrated Sunday Mass in Jordan before thousands of Christians from across the Middle East. Officials estimate at least 50,000 people came to the open air Amman Stadium to hear the Roman Catholic Church leader. Catholics make up less than two percent of Jordan's mainly Muslim population. Pope Benedict urged the Christians to persevere in their faith, and said the Catholic community is concerned by the difficulties in the region. The visit to the Middle East is his first as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan has lifted its curfew on the northwestern Swat Valley, giving
thousands of civilians the chance to flee intense fighting between
government forces and Taliban militants.Officials say the curfew will be reinstated Sunday afternoon.The United Nations says the fighting has forced 500,000 people to leave
their homes in Dir, Swat and Buner districts in recent days, but some
residents say they are trapped.
The Pakistani military said Sunday it had killed between 180 to 200 insurgents during the last 24 hours in Swat and the surrounding area.