ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Thailand Insists on Hmong Return to Laos


US AIRLINE INCIDENT: A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al-Qaida tried to ignite a bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to the U.S. city of Detroit Friday. Passengers say they heard a loud pop and then saw smoke when the suspect, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, unsuccessfully tried to detonate the explosive shortly before the plane began its descent. He was immediately subdued by other passengers and crew. Reports say Mutallab taped powder to his legs and had a syringe filled with liquid to mix with the powder and create the explosion.

TSUNAMI ANNIVERSARY: People across Asia paused Saturday to observe the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004 that killed up to 230,000 people in about a dozen countries. The devastating December 26 tsunami destroyed entire coastal communities, decimated families and crashed over tourist-filled beaches, sweeping away everyone and everything in its path. Brief memorials were held in mosques throughout the region, beside mass graves, and at seaside resorts and communities on the rim of the Indian Ocean.

IRAN: Fierce clashes are being reported in Iran between government forces and opposition supporters. Reformist Web sites say the skirmishes broke out Saturday in central Tehran. One Web site (Rah-e-Sabz) says riot police and other government forces confronted protesters in the streets and began smashing the windows of honking cars. A separate Web site (Jaras) reports riot police have fired canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowd but that the violence is spreading. Reformists have recently been staging protests to coincide with public events.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli forces have stormed the West Bank town of Nablus, killing three men suspected of killing an Israeli settler. An Israeli military spokeswoman says Israeli soldiers surrounded the homes of the three men early Saturday morning, and went in after the men refused to surrender. She says at least one of the men was armed. Palestinian officials say the men were members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement and that all three had previously been disarmed by Palestinian security forces. Palestinian medics also say the wife of one of the men was wounded in the raid.

AFGHANISTAN: NATO officials in Afghanistan say a heavily armed Taliban commander sought refuge in a mosque before starting a shootout that led to his death. NATO says international and Afghan forces tracked down the militant commander to a compound (just outside the town of Pirdad) in Wardak Saturday. When the joint NATO-Afghan forces approached, the commander fled to a nearby mosque, refused to surrender and eventually opened fire. The officials say he was armed with grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

NOKOR - US ACTIVIST: Human rights activists say an American Christian missionary crossed into North Korea Friday to urge leader Kim Jong Il to repent. The activists said Saturday that Robert Park crossed into North Korea from China Friday, carrying a letter urging the North Korean leader to release political prisoners, shut down the concentration camps where they are held, and open the borders to allow aid teams to enter. South Korea and Western governments say North Korea maintains a network of political prisons holding tens of thousands of prisoners. Pyongyang denies the charges.

THAILAND - HMONG: Thailand's government says it will go ahead with a plan to send thousands of ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers back to Laos despite more calls to drop the project. Thai government officials rejected repeated criticism they have been receiving since announcing 4,000 migrants would be sent home to Laos before the end of the year. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Friday everything will be done so the repatriation is successful. The United States, the United Nations and human rights groups Thursday urged Thailand to cancel the repatriation, saying the ethnic Hmong would face persecution in Laos. The Laotian government has denied the Hmong will face reprisals.

VIETNAM - CHINA DRUGS: Vietnamese media reported Saturday that a court has sentenced five Chinese men to death for trafficking nearly eight tons of hashish destined for Canada. The Vietnam News Agency said the five, from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, were found guilty Friday of smuggling the marijuana and nearly 20,000 pairs of jeans into the country from Pakistan. The defendants, aged between 42 and 57, were arrested in May of 2008. They were also charged with smuggling more than $180,000 in cash. Vietnam has some of the toughest drug trafficking laws in the world.

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