ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Afghans Cast Ballots Under Tight Security and the Threat of Taliban Violence


AFGHANISTAN: Voters in Afghanistan have cast their ballots in the country's second-ever president election Thursday under tight security and the threat of Taliban violence. Initial turnout appeared low in parts of the country, including the capital, Kabul, where explosions were heard early in the day. Later, police exchanged gunfire with a group of armed men who took over a building in the east of Kabul. Two men wearing suicide vests were killed. Elsewhere, in southern Helmand province, a child was killed after a series of rockets landed in the capital, Lashkar Gah.

IRAQ: Iraqi police say a bombing in Baghdad has killed two people and wounded at least 10, one day after bombs and mortar attacks killed 95 people and wounded more than 500 others in the Iraqi capital. Officials say the bomb was strapped to a bicycle and exploded at Rasheed street in central Baghdad on Thursday. Wednesday was the bloodiest day in the Baghdad since U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban areas on June 30. The carnage prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to vow an immediate re-evaluation of the government's security methods.

US - NORTH KOREA: The governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, will host more rare talks with North Korean diplomats Thursday, in what he calls a "hopeful sign" of improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Richardson and the two visiting diplomats will meet for their second and final day of talks in Sante Fe. Richardson told CNN Wednesday that he detected a lessening of tension during his talks. The veteran negotiator and former U.N. Ambassador also said North Korea is seeking direct negotiations with the U.S. The State Department said the Obama administration facilitated the meeting, but that the governor was not asked to convey any message to Pyongyang.

US - VIETNAM: U.S. Senator Jim Webb says the U.S. should do more to defend the sovereignty of Asian countries who might be worried about China's recent claim to 80 percent of the South China Sea. Vietnam and five other Southeast Asian nations dispute the claim. Webb said Wednesday in Vietnam's capital Hanoi that the U.S. should do more to "balance" China in the region. But he said it should be done by diplomatic rather than military means. Webb is on five-country tour of Asia -- seen as part of a broader diplomatic effort by the U.S. to rebuild ties with the region. He said Asia is vitally important to the United States.

TAIWAN - TYPHOON: Taiwan's cabinet has approved a $3 billion for typhoon reconstruction after the worst storm to hit the country in 50 years killed more than 100 people and devastated the south. The cabinet passed a budget Thursday to cover the expenses of rebuilding in areas damaged by the natural disaster. The leaders must now submit the budget to parliament for approval. On Wednesday, survivors of a typhoon in southern Taiwan scolded the island's President Ma Ying-jeou as he toured the ruins of a village devastated by the storm.

BURMA: The American man sentenced to prison in Burma for his uninvited visit to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi returned home to the United States Wednesday. John Yettaw arrived in Chicago from Thailand, where he was hospitalized after being deported from Burma on Sunday under a deal struck by U.S. Senator Jim Webb. Yettaw suffers from diabetes and epilepsy. A military court in Burma this month convicted Aung San Suu Kyi with breaking the terms of her house arrest by sheltering Yettaw and sentenced her to an additional 18 months of house arrest.

LOCKERBIE: Scotland has ordered the early release of a dying Libyan jailed for life for the 1988 mid-air Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill announced the decision Thursday in Edinburgh, saying the release was granted on compassionate grounds. Authorities say the convicted bomber, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, is near death from inoperable cancer. Recent speculation about Megrahi's early release angered the families of the victims -- many of whom were American college students returning from studies in Europe. (New Updates)

RUSSIA - SHIP: Crew members of the cargo ship Arctic Sea and their suspected hijackers have arrived in Russia. Three Russian military planes carrying 11 crew members and eight alleged hijackers from Cape Verde (a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa's western coast) arrived at an airport near Moscow on Thursday. Russia's foreign ministry says the captain and three crew members remain on board the Arctic Sea. Russia's defense minister (Anatoly Serdyukov) says the ship was hijacked off the Swedish coast on July 24.

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