ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Five Militants Killed in Afghan Offensive


AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say five suspected Taliban militants have been killed in a major coalition offensive in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Afghan army commander Sher Mohammad Zazai says the five were killed during "face-to-face fighting" at two locations. British, U.S. and Afghan forces launched the ground offensive in the town of Marjah as part of an effort to regain control of one of the Taliban's largest remaining strongholds in the country. In a Saturday news conference, British Major-General Nick Carter said coalition forces had a successful "insertion" into Marjah on Friday.

OLYMPICS OPENER: The 2010 Olympic Winter Games have officially begun in Vancouver, Canada. World-famous Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky lit the Olympic cauldron in the stadium along with three other Canadian athletes and medalists, despite a sight mechanical error. Gretzky then headed outdoors to light a second cauldron, visible across the city. Earlier, representatives from Canada's indigenous people welcomed some 5,000 athletes from more than 80 countries as the official opening ceremony began Friday evening.

YEMEN: A Yemeni official has accused Shi'ite rebels of violating a cease-fire agreement, just hours after it took effect. Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Qawsi said at least one soldier was killed and several others wounded in a rebel attack in Saada province on Friday. He said rebels had also attacked his vehicle. The rebels denied being part of the attack. Yemeni officials say they expect minor violations of the truce agreement, but that the cease-fire still holds. The truce was reached Thursday between President Ali Abdullah Saleh and rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi.

IVORY COAST: Ivory Coast's president says he is dissolving the government and electoral commission following rising tensions over next month's planned election. President Laurent Gbagbo announced on state television Friday that he has asked Prime Minister Guillaume Soro to form a new government. The move throws into doubt next month's planned presidential elections, as well as the political reconciliation process in the divided country. Presidential elections have been repeatedly postponed since 2005.

US - DALAI LAMA: The White House is rejecting a demand from China that a meeting next week between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, be canceled. A spokesman for the president said the meeting at the White House will "take place as planned next Thursday" (February 18). A statement issued in Beijing on Friday by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China "firmly opposes" the visit by the Dalai Lama and called on the United States to "immediately withdraw" the invitation.

US REPUBLICANS - SECURITY: U.S. Republicans are calling for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack mastermind and his co-conspirators to be tried in a military court. Speaking for the weekly Republican address, Senator Lindsey Graham (from the southern state of South Carolina) called U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to prosecute the five suspects in civilian court in New York City a "major mistake." The Obama administration has faced increasing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats to prosecuting terror suspects in civilian court.

OBAMA - BUDGET: U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a law that will allow the U.S. to borrow nearly two trillion dollars more than before. The president signed the bill Friday night at the White House with little public fanfare. The maximum debt the U.S. can carry is now $14.3 trillion. The U.S. was already poised to exceed the previous maximum. The change comes at a time when the American public is increasingly concerned about the government deficits. In an attempt calm those fears, the bill also included a "pay as you go" provision. (News Updates)

US - SPACE: The U.S. space agency NASA says the doors of the International Space Station's newest addition have been opened and several astronauts ventured inside for the first time. Space station commander Jeff Williams opened the hatch into the module, known as "Tranquility," Friday night (9:17 EST/2:17 am UTC). He was followed into Tranquility by the commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour(George Zamka) and several others. The team is working to set up the mechanisms inside the module. (News Updates)

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