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Gunbattle Erupts in Afghan Capital


AFGHANISTAN VIOLENCE: In Afghanistan Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked government ministries and other buildings Monday in the capital, Kabul, triggering fierce gun battles with security forces and killing five people, including one child. Nearly 40 civilians and members of the joint forces have been wounded. There are reports that at least four of the suicide bombers are dead. The gunfighting erupted Monday morning local time, in the heart of Kabul, near the Presidential Palace. The attack spread beyond the city center with a blast at a movie theater. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the situation has been largely brought under control.
HAITI-EARTHQUAKE: The United States is sending more troops to Haiti as tens of thousands of Haitian earthquake survivors continue to wait desperately for promised food and medical care. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will also travel to Haiti Monday to deliver relief supplies and meet with President Rene Preval and other members of Haiti's government.
On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised to expedite the massive humanitarian aid he says is desperately needed. Mr. Ban visited Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, to assess the current relief effort and express his support to the Haitian people. The U.N. says one third of Haitians are in need of assistance following last week's massive earthquake, and at least a million people are homeless.
UKRAINE ELECTION: Preliminary results from Ukraine's presidential election show that Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych are headed for a runoff next month. With about 80 percent of the votes counted from Sunday's election, Ukraine's election commission says Mr. Yanukovych has around 36 percent of the vote, while Ms. Tymoshenko has around 25 percent. President Viktor Yushchenko trails badly in fifth place.
Fifteen other candidates also ran Sunday. Ms. Tymoshenko already has said she is ready for talks with those she calls other democratic forces to win their support in the February 7 runoff. Despite his poor showing, Mr. Yushchenko declared the election a success. He said it shows Ukraine is a democratic European country.
CHILE-ELECTION: Former Chilean President Eduardo Frei has conceded losing the country's presidential election to conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera.
With 99 percent of the polling places counted, official returns showed Mr. Pinera with 52 percent of the vote and Mr. Frei with 48 percent. Mr. Frei conceded defeat Sunday evening, marking an end to two decades of center-left rule in Chile. The new president will succeed outgoing President Michelle Bachelet. She cannot run for a second consecutive term. Mr. Pinera, a Harvard-educated economist, lost to Ms. Bachelet in the last presidential vote in 2006. He owns a television station, a soccer team and a stake in Lan Airlines. He is expected to steer Latin America's most stable economy toward more free-market policies.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: North Korea has repeated its demand that sanctions against it be dropped before it will return to stalled nuclear disarmament talks.
A statement from the North's Foreign Ministry Monday also called again for peace talks with the United States and a treaty to formally end the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, which ended with a cease-fire. South Korea dismissed a similar call from the North last week, saying such dialogue can be held only after Pyongyang returns to six-party talks on its nuclear program.
South Korean officials say North Korea must also take steps toward denuclearization before discussions on a peace treaty to end the Korean War can take place. The United States also turned down Pyongyang's proposal and urged it to return to the nuclear talks.
BURMA POL: Lawyers for Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi say they are optimistic the supreme court will overturn an extension of her house arrest. The 64-year-old Nobel peace laureate was ordered in August to spend another 18 months in detention after being convicted for an incident in which an American man swam to her home uninvited. Aung San Suu Kyi's lead lawyer Kyi Win said the court heard both sides of the case Monday and is expected to reach a decision within a month. A lower court rejected an initial appeal in October.Kyi Win said he expected the court to accept their arguments and release Aung San Suu Kyi. He said they argued that their client's conviction was unlawful because it was based on the country's now-invalid 1974 constitution.

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