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Frictions, Confusion in Haiti Relief Effort


HAITI - EARTHQUAKE: Efforts to aid survivors of Haiti's earthquake are becoming increasingly tense, as survivors fight to get help and foreign governments and relief groups strive to provide it.
Diplomatic squabbles broke out Saturday as France accused the United States of exerting too much control over which flights are allowed to land at the airport in Port-au-Prince. International aid workers still struggled Saturday to deliver desperately needed water, food and medical supplies to Haitians four days after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Some survivors began leaving the devastated capital on foot, as the city was beset by reports of violence and looting. Aid groups say their efforts are being hampered by blocked roads and limited resources, including limited fuel supplies for their vehicles. VOA correspondent Brian Wagner flew aboard a U.S. helicopter delivering aid to the capital. Wagner said the helicopter hovered while its crew tossed boxes to people below. Haitian officials said some 40,000 corpses have been buried in mass graves and predicted the death toll could reach as high as 200,000. Rescue crews from more than 30 nations continued searching through the remains of collapsed buildings for survivors, even as hope dims that those trapped will be rescued in time.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Saturday with Haitian President Rene Preval in a tent at the Port-au-Prince airport. Clinton said the meeting focused on finding the best way to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say a suspected U.S. drone missile strike has killed at least 15 militants. Authorities say the toll could rise.
Sunday's attack took place in the Shaktoi area of Pakistan's restive South Waziristan region. The pilotless drone strikes are a source of friction between the United States and Pakistan, which sees them as a violation of its sovereignty. But Washington says they are an effective weapon in remote tribal areas. Pakistani Taliban militants issued a new audio recording Saturday they said proved their leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, survived a suspected U.S. missile strike earlier in the week. Pakistani intelligence sources had said Mehsud was wounded in the missile strike that killed at least 12 suspected militants.
The United States has increased attacks using pilotless drones since a suicide bomber killed seven U.S. intelligence agents in eastern Afghanistan in late December.
UKRAINE ELECTION: Voters in Ukraine are heading to the polls in an election widely expected to lead to defeat for incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko.
Mr. Yushchenko came to power in 2004 in the populist Orange Revolution. But his government has been plagued by political turmoil and a poor economy. He trails badly in opinion polls. The man he defeated six years ago, Viktor Yanukovych, tops the polls, with Ukraine's prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in second place. Neither Mr. Yanukovych nor Ms. Tymoshenko will likely win a majority in Sunday's election among the 18 candidates, forcing a runoff vote on February 7.

Mr. Yanukovych, a former prime minister, is considered pro-Russian, while Ms. Tymoshenko leans toward the West, though she has vowed to repair Ukraine's strained relations with Moscow if elected.
IRAQ - ALI DEATH SENTENCE: The man known to the world as "Chemical Ali" for his use of chemical weapons against Iraqi civilians during the reign of Saddam Hussein, has been sentenced to death for a fourth time by a Baghdad court. This time, Ali Hassan al-Majid is to die for the 1988 gassing of Kurds in the village of Halabja in northeast Iraq. An estimated 5,000 people were were killed in the attack. Sunday's death sentence follows three earlier ones for other crimes against the Iraqi people committed while he was a senior official under Saddam. The latest was last year, when Majid was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the killing of Shia Muslims in the Sadr City district of Baghdad in 1999.
YEMEN: Yemen's Defense Ministry says government forces have captured three al-Qaida militants in the north, near the border with Saudi Arabia.
The ministry says the three men were caught Saturday with weapons, explosives and propaganda pamphlets, and they reportedly were wearing military fatigues.They were arrested near Saada province, scene of a separatist rebellion. The arrests came a day after a Yemeni airstrike killed six members of "al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula" including Qassem al-Raimi, known as the group's military chief in Yemen. Al-Raimi escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006.
Also Saturday, Zaidi Shi'ite rebels claimed they shot down a Saudi military helicopter in Yemen. Saudi officials have not commented on the claim.

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