The U.S. military in Iraq says a Marine helicopter was shot down in the southern city of Najaf today (Thursday) during fighting between U.S. forces and supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A spokesman said several crew members were wounded, but did not provide further details. Earlier, the military said fighting in Najaf erupted when local authorities requested Marines' help, after the city's main police station came under attack twice.
Meanwhile, at least five people were killed and more than 20 others wounded in a car bomb explosion outside a police station in the town of Mahawil, south of Baghdad.
A U-S newspaper report says a suspected al-Qaida operative detained during raids in Britain Tuesday had access to surveillance data that led U.S. authorities to issue heightened terrorist alerts this week.
Australia's foreign minister says he will make a rare visit to North Korea later this month. Alexander Downer says he will be in Pyongyang August 17th and 18th, after two days of talks with officials in China, to encourage North Korean leaders to ease tensions over their nuclear weapons program.
A U-S-based human rights group has called on Thailand to prosecute any officials found responsible for illegal use of lethal force during a military raid on a mosque in the south of the country earlier this year that left 32 young Muslims dead. Human Rights Watch says a full, independent inquiry into what happened in April is need to make sure that those responsible are prosecuted and disciplined.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is criticizing a human rights report suggesting that authoritarian culture is growing under his rule. In its first ever report, Thailand's National Human Rights Commission singled out Mr. Thaksin's 2003 anti-drug campaign as the worst case of deterioration in the country's human rights performance.
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