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News Headlines & Trends

05.22.10 Pakistan detains 5 over Times Square plot: Report

WASHINGTON, May 22 - Pakistan has detained a co-owner of an upscale catering company in Islamabad and at least four others in connection with the botched Times Square bombing plot for which Pakistani-American terror suspect, Faisal Shahzad has been arrested in the US, a media report confirmed on Saturday. The suspects, including Salman Ashraf of 'Hanif Rajput Catering Service', were taken into custody following the May 1 Times Square terror plot, 'The Washington Post' reported on Saturday. The report came a day after Pakistan's Geo News channel said that six persons had been detained in different places in the country on suspicion of having links to Shahzad. Citing a US embassy alert in Islamabad, the Post said Americans have been warned about the 'Hanif Rajput Catering Service' as "terrorist groups may have established links" to it. The unusual embassy alert yesterday said the company was owned by Salman Ashraf, who was taken into custody a few days ago and his father Rana Ashraf Khan, but it did not elaborate on its alleged ties to militants. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also

foxnews.com, May 22, "Investigator: 2 Pakistani detainees proudly say they helped Times Square bomb attempt"
: ISLAMABAD - Two men detained in Pakistan admitted with pride that they helped the suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing, and one of the men angrily accused his interrogators of "siding with the infidels," a senior intelligence official said Saturday. The pair are among six men officials say have been detained in Pakistan for alleged ties to Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American arrested in the United States two days after the failed May 1 attack in New York. Like Shahzad, the detainees are all from their country's urban elite, including several who were educated in the United States...Five were picked up in the capital, Islamabad, and one is co-owner of a posh catering company that the US Embassy said was suspected of ties to terrorist groups.

The intelligence official, part of the team questioning the men, cited the two suspects as saying they did not do anything wrong and "proudly" describing Shahzad as their friend. The official said one of the suspects had even accused his interrogators of "siding with the infidels." One of the suspects, identified as Shoaib Mughal, is alleged to be a go-between for Shahzad and Pakistani Taliban in their hide-outs close [to] the Afghan border. He was running a large computer dealership in Islamabad before his detention, said the intelligence official..The other suspect, identified only by his first name Shahid, is alleged to have helped arrange money for Shahzad. He has an MBA from the US and apparently knew Shahzad from his time there...

05.22.10 Kabul police uncover major cache of rockets

May 22 - Afghan police say they have seized a cache of hundreds of rockets hidden on the outskirts of the capital Kabul. The find included 278 122mm rockets with a range of 20km (13 miles) and 15 rockets with a range of 30km, city police chief Abdul Rahman Rahman said. No arrests had been made in relation to the find, he told reporters. It followed reports that the Taliban were planning attacks on Kabul during a peace meeting of community and political representatives next weekend. "We had reports that Kabul might be under threat from the north-east and north-west sides of the city," Mr. Rahman said. He alleged that intelligence reports pointed to the involvement of foreign elements "Some elements were paid to relocate these rockets and intelligence gathered shows around 20 million Pakistan rupees ($240,000) was promised to those who undertake the launching," he said. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.22.10 23 killed, 55 injured in central Iraq car bomb

BAQUBA, Irag, May 22 - Third major Iraq attack in 11 days. A car bomb ripped through an Iraqi market on Friday, killing at least 23 people in the third major attack in 11 days, two months after a general election failed to result in a new government. The blast in the town of Khales, in Diyala province 65 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, struck at around 7:30pm (1630 GMT), close to an office of the police rapid reaction force. In addition to the killed, 55 people were wounded, according to an official from Diyala's security command. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.22.10 Three soldiers, one civilian killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) May 22 - Three foreign soldiers and one civilian working with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed in two separate incidents in southern Afghanistan Saturday, the alliance said. "Two ISAF service members and a civilian working with ISAF died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today," ISAF said, without disclosing the soldiers’ nationality, in keeping with NATO policy. "In a separate incident, also in southern Afghanistan, another ISAF service member died following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack," the statement, said referring to the Taliban insurgents’ weapon of choice. The latest casualty brings the number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year to 215, according to an AFP tally based on the icasualties.org website. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.21.10 A month in, outrage over Gulf oil spill grows

GRAND ISLE, Louisiana (AP) May 21 - State and local officials say the federal government isn't doing enough. President Obama faults the agency that oversees offshore drilling. Republicans say the Coast Guard and the administration should have done more. Thick, sticky oil crept deeper into delicate marshes of the Mississippi Delta, an arrival dreaded for a month since the crude started spewing into the Gulf, as anger and frustration mounted over efforts to plug the gusher from a blown-out well and contain the spill. Up to now, only tar balls and a sheen of oil had come ashore. But chocolate brown and vivid orange globs and sheets of foul-smelling oil the consistency of latex paint have begun coating the reeds and grasses of Louisiana's wetlands, home to rare birds, mammals and a rich variety of marine life. [More>>foxnews.com]

05.21.10 Borrowers. lenders targeted in financial reform

May 21 - Congress is getting tougher on both borrowers and lenders blamed for inflating a housing bubble that, when it popped, plunged the nation into a severe recession two years ago. Under sweeping financial overhauls that have now passed the House and Senate, home buyers won't be able to get a mortgage without producing pay stubs or other evidence they can make their monthly payments. Other key provisions include the creation of a financial stability oversight council that would identify risks to the financial system, setting up a bureau of consumer protection to curb abusive lending, particularly with mortgages, and ensuring that troubled companies no matter how big can be liquidated at no cost to taxpayers, reports CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

The 59-39 vote represents an important achievement for President Barack Obama. The measure was his next top legislative priority after signing his health care bill into law on March 23, and he views yesterday's development as an important political win, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller. The bill must now be reconciled with a House version that passed in December. A key House negotiator predicted the legislation would reach Obama's desk before the Fourth of July.

05.21.10 Second Mid-East talks end with no sign of progress

May 21 - Middle East envoy George Mitchell wound up a second round of indirect peace talks between Palestinians and Israeli without any outward sign of progress. A statement from the office of the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the "possibility" of goodwill gestures towards the Palestinians. No details were given. The US envoy and Mr. Netanyahu met for three and a half hours on Thursday. Mr. Mitchell met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the week. The indirect, proximity talks are set to continue for four months, and should get to addressing some of the core issues - borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. All parties say they hope these will lead to direct negotiations. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.21.10 US ties Pakistan caterrers to terror plot

ISLAMABAD (AP) May 21 - The US Embassy warned Friday that terrorist groups may have "established links" to a high-class catering company in Pakistan that a security official said is owned by a suspect arrested over the failed car bombing in Times Square. In an unusual e-mail message to US residents in Pakistan, the embassy said US government personnel had been instructed to avoid using the Hanif Rajput Catering Service, a well-known firm often used by foreign embassies in Islamabad. The US embassy said the suspicions about the catering company have been shared with Pakistan government agencies. The message said Rajput was owned Rana Ashraf Khan and his son Salman Ashraf. Earlier this week, a senior security official said that one of at least two people arrested in Pakistan over links to a Pakistani-American detained in connection with the failed Times Square car bombing was called Salman Ashraf. He identified him as the son of the owner of Rajput catering service. [More>>nytimes.com]

05.21.10 Eight militants killed in Orakzai clash

HANGU, Pakistan, May 21 - Eight militants were killed and two security men injured during a clash between security forces and militants in Orakzai Agency. Sources said militants stormed a check post in Dabori area in upper Orakzai early on Friday. Two security personnel were injured in the attack whereas eight militants were killed and 15 injured in retaliatory action of security forces. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.21.10 Balkans sound alarm over disappearing forests

(AFP) May 21 - Illegal logging and unregulated real estate projects are threatening the Balkans' once abundant forests, home to more than half of Europe's bears and to large wolf populations. To alert public opinion to the looming dangers, national parks in the region will rally this weekend to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity, set a decade ago by the UN General Assembly for May 22. Albania is one of the world's countries worst hit by deforestation. Woodlands that covered 51 percent of its territory prior to 1990 have now receded to 25 percent, according to several environmental non-governmental organizations contacted by AFP. The Vlora region on Albania's southern Adriatic coast is a prime example, where 102 hectares (252 acres) of forests were cleared to make room for illegal construction, according to the Albanian National Forest Association. Even Albania's national parks such as the Lura, considered a gem of the Balkans with its vast expanse of pine, fir and beech trees, have not been spared by illegal loggers. [More>>independent.co.uk]

05.21.10 Morocco expelled Christians 'to prevent conflict'

RABAT, Morocco (Reuters) May 21 - Morocco has expelled foreign Christians who tried to convert Muslims because, as a moderate Islamic state, it wants to foster “order and calm” and avoid a clash between faiths, its Islamic affairs minister said. The government has expelled around 100 foreign Christians since March, many of them aid workers, in what Western diplomats have called an unprecedented crackdown on undercover preaching. "These incidents (expulsions) were prompted by the activism of some foreigners who undermined public order," Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.

"There are some who hide their proselytism and religious activism under the guise of other activities," he said. The latest expulsion was that of Spaniard Francisco Paton Millan, the head of a small energy company, who was ordered last week to leave the country for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, church workers and European diplomats said. The Islamist-leaning newspaper Attajdid reported on Thursday that the authorities had ordered 23 foreigners to leave last week and that this was part of a new wave of such expulsions.

05.20.10 Stocks slump as fear spikes

NEW YORK, May 20 - Stocks got pummeled Thursday, with the Dow down over 300 points, on worries that the European debt crisis and euro's plunge will send the economy back into recession. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 285 points, or 2.7%. The blue-chip average had fallen as much as 356 points earlier in the afternoon. The Nasdaq (COMP) fell 82 points, or 3.6% and the S&P 500 (SPX) declined 34 points, or 3.1%..."With the jobless data and weakness out of the European markets, stocks are down again," said Steven Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co.

"There's a heightened sense of nervousness and markets look to be testing the lows of two weeks ago, when we had the mini-crash," he said. On May 6, the Dow lost nearly 1,000 points during the session before recovering to close down 348 points. During that session, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell to levels that set them at least 10% off the rally highs. The Nasdaq has already closed at those levels, meaning it is in a correction, according to the technical definition. Should the S&P 500 close at its current level below 1095, and the Dow below 10,085 (it hasn't sunk that low today), they would also be in a correction.
[More>>cnn.com; See related story,

france24.com (Reuters) May 20, "Stocks slide as eurozone members bicker over market policy" :
Germany called on Thursday for a crack-down on financial markets, France took a hard line on its huge overspending and Greece faced more street protests as the eurozone struggled with crisis and division. With stocks already reeling from a surprise and unilateral move by Germany to curb speculative trading, Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed the case for a tax on financial markets to help tame excesses blamed for the global economic slump...

05.20.10 'Artficial life' breakthrough announced by scientists

May 20 - Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell. The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA. The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms. The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases. The team was led by Dr. Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute in Maryland and California. He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.20.10 Mothers ask Iran to free jailed US hikers

May 20 - The mothers of three American hikers imprisoned in Iran on spying charges have pleaded for their children to be released as a "humanitarian gesture." The three women, who saw their children Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, for the first time since their arrest, used the occasion to ask for clemency. They had travelled to Tehran after being granted one-week visas by the Iranian authorities in what is being seen as a breakthrough in the case. After their emotional reunion the mothers, dressed in modest Iranian abayas and headscarves, revealed they had begged Iran to show mercy towards their children. "We have requested their freedom but I don't know what will happen," Mr. Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, told reporters. "Please, please let them go," she said. "It would be a good gesture for the world to see Iran doing a humanitarian act." [More>>news.sky.com]

05.20.10 DPRK warns of "all-out" war

SEOUL / PYONGYANG (Xinhua) May 20 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday rejected a conclusion drawn by a multinational team of investigators over warship Cheonan's sinking and warned that any retaliation will lead to an "all-out" war. A spokesman from the National Defense Commission of the DPRK rejected the conclusion as a "fabrication." The commission said it will dispatch inspectors to South Korea to verify the claim announced by a multinational team of investigators. President Lee Myung-bak has vowed to take "firm measures" against the DPRK over the sinking of its warship. [More>>xinhuanet.com; See also en.rian.ru (RIA Novosti) May 20, "Russia urges Seoul, Pyongyang to show restraint over ship sinking."]

05.20.10 After Facebook, Pakistan blocks YouTube for 'objectionable content'

ISLAMABAD, May 20 - Pakistan on Thursday blocked popular video sharing website YouTube for hosting "sacrilegious content", a day after severing access to social networking site Facebook over a page featuring blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. In a statement, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that YouTube had been blocked due to "sacrilegious contents" but did not point to specific material on the website that prompted the authorities to block it. The government acted against both Facebook and YouTube after it failed to persuade the websites to remove the "derogatory material," the statement said. The government yesterday blocked Facebook after Lahore High Court ordered to restrict access to the site until May 31, depriving the access to social networking site to Pakistan's nearly 20 million Internet users. "We strongly condemn the publication of blasphemous caricatures of our holy Prophet on Facebook," foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters in the capital Islamabad. [More>>indianexpress.com; See other details, thenews.com.pk, May 20, "Pakistan blocks YouTube over blasphemous material."]

05.20.10 Zawahri praises al-Qaeda leaders killed in Iraq - TV

DUBAI (Reuters) May 20 - Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri praised two leaders of the group killed in Iraq, according to an audio recording aired by Al Jazeera television on Thursday. Zawahri is thought to be in hiding in mountainous territory close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda's Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, were killed in a joint operation by Iraqi security forces and US troops April 9. Zawahri praised both men for "reviving Jihad" in the country, comparing them to leaders in early Islam and denounced the Baghdad government and Western "Crusaders" for their killing. The television aired a brief excerpt of the recording. [More>>thestar.com.my]

05.20.10 Pakistan shelling kills 19 militants: officials

PESHAWAR (AFP) May 20 - Pakistani combat helicopters attacked militant hideouts in a restive tribal district Thursday, killing at least 19 rebels, officials said. The helicopter gunships destroyed six militant hideouts in the Dabori area of Orakzai, one of seven lawless districts in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, where troops have been battling the Taliban since March, security officials said. The military's media wing confirmed the raid, saying "19 terrorists have been killed." Another military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the death toll may go up. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.20.10 Fresh claims of Afghan Taliban chief's arrest

ISLAMABAD, May 20 - Expert say claims of Mullah Omar's capture baseless. Independent western media reports claimed on Wednesday that Pakistani authorities finally succeeded in capturing the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar. The Miliblogging site Free Range International, while citing prominent sources from both Afghan and Pakistani officials, claimed that Mullah Omar was captured and put under house arrest by Pakistani top intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) at a undisclosed location. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.20.10 Key militant commander killed in Swat

SWAT, Pakistan, May 20 - Security forces killed key militant commander in Swat offensive. According to sources, on a tip-off forces launched a search operation in Shakardara area in Matta. Militant commander Sher Rehman Gujjar was killed during a clash between security forces and militants while others managed to flee. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.20.10 Turkey 'bombs Kurd targets' in Iraq

May 20 - Turkish fighter jets have bombed dozens of Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq, local television has reported. Some 20 warplanes hit around 50 positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in the ZAP-Khakurk region on Thursday, Turkish broadcaster NTV said. The army has not yet confirmed the raid and there was no immediate news of casualties. Anita Mcnaught, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Turkish capital Ankara, said: "We understand that the Turkish armed forces were made aware of the movements of a significant number of rebels and decided to launch the strikes to pre-empt their arrival in Turkey. What is known about these sorts of attacks is that since the end of 2007 they have been made with the assistance with the US military, as part of a deal at the end of President Bush's [of the US] administration." [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.19.10 Markets plunge as Merkel delivers euro warning and bans short-selling

May 19 - European stock markets fell sharply today and the euro hit a four-year low against the dollar after Germany declared war on speculators, including a surprise ban on "naked" short-selling. Angela Merkel, her political career threatened, told Parliament that the consequences would be "incalculable" if eurozone countries did not meet the challenges faced by their single currency. Speaking to MPs after introducing the short-selling ban and a new tax on banks, the Chancellor said: "This challenge is existential and we have to rise to it. The euro is in danger. If we don't deal with this danger, then the consequences for us in Europe are incalculable. If the euro fails, then Europe fails." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

05.19.10 Bangkok burns as army breaks up protest

May 19 - Many parts of Bangkok are ablaze after the Thai army smashed the Red Shirts' protest and ordered a curfew across the capital. Protesters set fire to the offices of a Channel 3 TV station in Bangkok, trapping 100 people inside. Other parts of the city have been burning with fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and the upmarket Central World shopping mall, one of the biggest shopping centres in southeast Asia. The Foreign Office is now advising against all travel to Bangkok in view of the "highly uncertain" security situation. In a statement it said: "We judge that the risk to the safety of British nationals has increased and have amended our travel advice accordingly." The trouble follows a deadly operation by the Thai army to break up the long-running anti-government protest, leaving three people dead, including an Italian journalist. [More>>news.sky.com]

05.19.10 Times Sq. bomb suspect had other NYC targets

May 19 - Faisal Shahzad targeted Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, CBS News reports; suspect goes to court, enters no plea. The suspect in the botched Times Square bombing told investigators that he had other targets in New York City, CBS News reports. The new development in the case comes after prosecutors announced Faisal Shahzad's first appearance in federal court on Tuesday. Shahzad appeared in court on five felony charges related to the May 1 botched bombing, muttered one word and entered no plea. Before his court appearance, Shahzad told investigators that he targeted other Midtown Manhattan attractions such as Grand Central Terminal and Rockefeller Center, CBS News reports. [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

foxnews.com, May 19, "Link to NYC bomb suspect
: A Pakistani army major was arrested Tuesday in connection with the failed Times Square car bombing on May 1, The LA Times reported Wednesday. The major's link to suspect Faisal Shahzad, was unclear but Pakistani law enforcement sources confirmed to the newspaper that the pair had met in the capital Islamabad and that they were in cellphone contact. The sources did not provide further details of the meeting or calls and spoke on condition of anonymity. The report was later denied in a statement to the media from the Pakistan Army's Inter-Services Public Relations unit. It said the officer, identified by some local newspapers as Signal Corps Major Adnan, was sacked and arrested for insubordination unconnected to the New York Terror attack. [end]

05.19.10 World Cup bomb plot detailed by al-Qaeda suspect

May 19 - An alleged al-Qaeda militant detained in Iraq has given details about a plan he had to attack the World Cup in South Africa next month. The Saudi man, Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani, told reporters he had suggested an attack on the Dutch and Danish teams in revenge for cartoons drawn of the Prophet Muhammad. But he said senior al-Qaeda leaders had not yet approved the plan. On Monday Iraqi police claimed to have prevented an attack on the World Cup. The claims prompted phone calls from South African police, trying to find out what was going on. Mr. Qahtani was arrested after Iraqi forces found a note detailing the plan in a hideout used by two senior al-Qaeda figures, killed in April. "We discussed the possibility of taking revenge for the insults of the prophet by attacking Denmark and Holland," Mr. Qahtani told the Associated Press. "If we were not able to reach the teams, then we would target the fans." The plan would have included car bombs and gun attacks. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.19.10 Japan 'state of emergency' over foot-and-mouth outbreak

(AFP) May 19 - Japan on Tuesday admitted it was slow to detect an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease as the affected region declared a state of emergency after culling more than 110,000 animals. The disease, which sickens animals but rarely affects humans, was confirmed in late April, three weeks after the first animals fell ill, triggering a beef and pork export ban and threatening Japan's premium Miyazaki beef sector. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who on Monday announced special aid for the region, conceded that "there may have been certain (problems) in terms of having done everything we could to prevent the spread" of the disease. [More>>independent.co.uk; See more details,

japantoday.com, May 19, "Gov't to kill all livestock within 10 km of disease-hit areas in Miyazaki"
: TOKYO - The government said Wednesday it will slaughter all pigs and cows within a 10-kilometer radius of the areas hit by foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture to contain the spread of the infection. A total of about 205,000 domesticated cows and pigs will be given vaccines before they are slaughtered in order to delay the spread of the infection, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu told a news conference...

05.19.10 French cabinet approves burqa ban law

PARIS (AFP) May 19 - The French cabinet approved a draft law to ban the Muslim full-face veil from public spaces today, opening the way for the text to go before parliament in July. "In this matter the government is taking a path it knows to be difficult, but a path it knows to be just," President Nicolas Sarkozy told the assembled ministers, according to his office. While Sarkozy's right-wing majority is expected to be able to push the law through parliament, constitutional experts have warned that it could be thrown out by judges and might fall foul of European law. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

05.19.10 'Madarsas [madrasahs] teaching extremism must close in Pak'

WASHINGTON, May 19 - An eminent US Congressman on Wednesday demanded an immediate closure of madarsas adhering to the Deobandi school of thought in Pakistan, charging that they were churning out terrorists. Congressman Ed Royce, Co-Chair of the India Caucus in House of Representative, also said that these schools were acting as recruiting ground for terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and should be shut down. He was addressing a Congressional luncheon organized by the National Federation of Indian American Association (NFIA). "Deobandi schools continue to churn out terrorists that attack democracies around the world. There are 800 specifically of these Deobandi schools that are focused on jihad in Pakistan," he claimed. "Every graduating class, those young men are then approached and recruited as a result of that education that they receive in that type of radicalism and are recruited to carry out terror," Royce said.

"Our message is that those schools have to be shut down. The LeT campus have to be closed. Those individuals have to be brought to justice who had a hand in training these young people in terror. This must stop," said the Congressman, who serves on the International Terrorism Subcommittee in the House of Representative. He said the administration should put enough pressure on the Pakistan government to close down the schools. Addressing the gathering of eminent Indian Americans who had travelled from various parts of the country to attend this Congressional Luncheon, the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said India and the US over this past decade have forged closer relationship not only based on common values, but also on mutual interest.

05.19.10 55 extremists killed in Orakzai; 2 troops dead

PESHAWAR, May 19 - At least 55 extremists were killed in fresh clashes with the security forces in Upper Orakzai Agency this morning, Geo News reported Wednesday. Also, two security personnel lost their lives and eight others were injured in the skirmishes. According to sources, the security forces and the extremists entered clash in Upper Orakzai Agency area of Sipah Ghar, where two security men were martyred and eight others injured. The security forces soon retaliated and killed 55 extremists in the action and injured several others. The injured soldiers were transported to the CMH Tal and Kohat for medical treatment. [>thenews.com.pk; See other details,

khaleejtimes.com (Reuters) May 19, "Pakistan forces 'kill 40'; US officials in talks"
: KAYALA, Pakistan - More than 200 Pakistani Taliban attacked a security post in the northwestern region of Orakzai on Wednesday, triggering a clash in which at least 40 militants and two soldiers were killed, officials said. The violence came as US National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta were in Pakistan to urge the government to step up pressure on militant groups following a botched May 1 car-bombing in New York's Time Square, a White House official said. Pakistani forces have increased their attacks in the Orakzai and Khyber regions of the northwest in recent weeks after largely clearing Taliban strongholds in other areas.

The militants emerged out of forested mountains to attack the checkpoint in the Dobbari area soon after dawn, said a government official in the region, Nauman Khan. "They first fired rocket-propelled grenades at our checkpost and then closed in and attacked," said a military officer in the northwest who declined to be identified. "We responded quickly and repulsed the attack after fierce fighting which lasted about three hours," said the officer. At least 40 militants as well as two soldiers were killed. Twenty-two soldiers were wounded, he said...

05.19.10 Taliban attacks Afghan air base

May 19 - At least seven Taliban fighters have been killed and nine NATO troops wounded in an assault on Bagram air base in Afghanistan, NATO says. NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, said on Wednesday: "Seven insurgents have been killed... during the attack on Bagram that included rockets, small arms and grenades." The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying 20 suicide bombers took part in the assault, which began overnight. Zabihullah Mujahid, the group's spokesman, told the AFP news agency: "Four suicide bombers activated their explosive belts and fighting is continuing at the base."

'Brazen' attack

Bagram, which is near Kabul, the capital, is one of the biggest military bases in Afghanistan and mainly holds US troops as well as a detention centre where al-Qaeda-linked fighters and "terror" suspects are held. Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Bagram, described the attack as "quite brazen and daring". She said the attack started "about 3am when US guards at Bagram spotted a car and started shooting at it. That's when this long gun battle that lasted for about eight hours happened. It was very intense [the battle] between 3am and until about daylight." [A] Taliban spokesman said that the attackers detonated themselves in front of the main gate and managed to enter the airfield.

05.19.10 US hikers are spies: Iran intelligence minister

TEHRAN, May 19 - Mothers of Americans allowed visit as "humanitarian" gesture. Iran's intelligence minister on Wednesday accused three US hikers in custody for the past 10 months of being spies, just hours before their mothers were expected in Tehran, ISNA news agency reported. "Iran has allowed the mothers ... to visit their children as a humanitarian act based on religious rules to show the world the Islamic Republic's behavior in this case," Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was quoted as saying, referring to a decision by Iran to grant visas for the mothers. Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were detained on July 31 after straying across Iran's border in what they described as a mistake while on a hiking trip in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region. The trio are being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Washington insists they are innocent and should be released. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.18.10 Kit Kat manufacturer Nestle to stop using oil after graphic Greenpeace Youtube video airs

LONDON, May 18 - The maker of KitKat chocolate bars, Nestle, has announced it will stop using oil from suppliers who are destroying rainforests. The Sun said Nestle's move comes after Greenpeace accused the company of killing off orangutans by buying palm oil from companies connected with the destruction of rainforests. Greenpeace released a YouTube video which showed Kit Kats were being made using oil from the biggest and most destructive producer in Indonesia the Sinar Mas Group. Watch the YouTube video here

The campaign was a parody of Nestle's Kit Kat ads and showed an unwitting office worker taking a break to enjoy a Kit Kat chocolate bar - but instead biting into an orangutan’s finger, causing blood to stream down his face and onto his keyboard. The ABC said Nestle tried to get Greenpeace's video withdrawn from YouTube, but Greenpeace campaign head Steve Campbell said that only boosted the number of posts online worldwide. "We ended up with 1.3 million views at last count of the video," he said. Nestle vowed yesterday to snub firms that own or manage "high-risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation."

05.18.10 'World's biggest' forest protection deal for Canada

May 18 - Timber companies and environment groups have unveiled an agreement aimed at protecting two-thirds of Canada's vast forests from unsustainable logging. Over 72 million hectares are included in what will become the world's largest commercial forest conservation deal. Logging will be totally banned on some of the land, in the hope of sustaining endangered caribou populations. Timber companies hope the deal will bring commercial gains, as timber buyers seek higher ethical standards. The total protected area is about twice the size of Germany, and equals the area of forest lost globally between 1990 and 2005. "The importance of this agreement cannot be overstated," said Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC). [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.18.10 Docs astonished as girl grows new kidneys

May 18 - A girl has stunned doctors by growing two new kidneys to replace ones that had failed and left her seriously ill. Five-year-old Angel Burton went for surgery after being beset by kidney problems since birth. But surgeons at Sheffield Children's Hospital were astonished to find she had a pair of perfectly-formed organs sitting on top of the old ones. Furthermore, the extra organs had taken over the work of the originals so instead of suffering kidney failure, she could look forward to a bright, healthy future. Angel's mum, Claire Burton, told the Daily Mail: "It's a real miracle. We're just so grateful to have Angel back to her happy, healthy self." She said the surgeon told her he was "stunned" regular scanning over a five-year period had failed to pick up on the extra organs. It is thought they were not detected as the new kidneys were sitting just above the originals and tests showed them as one. [More>>news.sky.com]

05.18.10 Major powers have a deal on sanctions for Iran, US says

WASHINGTON, May 18 - The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it had struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp repudiation of the deal Tehran had offered just a day before to ship its nuclear fuel out of the country. "We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, without giving any details of the pact. "We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide." The agreement was reached by the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council — plus Germany. Russia and China have been the most resistant to the American-led efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran. [More>>nytimes.com]

05.18.10 Convicted killer of Iranian ex-PM granted parole, leaves Paris for Tehran

May 18 - A French court ordered the conditional release Tuesday of Ali Vakili Rad (pictured), the Iranian agent jailed for the 1991 assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar, a former Iranian PM during the Shah's era who had fled to France. Hours after a French court granted him parole Tuesday, Ali Vakili Rad, an Iranian agent convicted for the murder of a former Iranian prime minister, left Paris for Tehran, according to airport officials. Ali Vakili Rad was sentenced to life imprisonment (with a minimum of18 years to be spent in jail) for the 1991 assassination of former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in the Parisian suburb town of Suresnes. Bakhtiar, the country's last prime minister under the Shah, had fled to France following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Vakili Rad's release came two days after Iran freed French academic Clotilde Reiss, who was arrested last July in the aftermath of the June 12 Iranian elections and charged with spying. [More>>france24.com]

05.18.10 Suicide attack kills more than 20 in Kabul

KABUL (AFP) May 18 - A suicide car bomb attack targeting NATO troops in the Afghan capital on Tuesday killed more than 20 civilians in one of the deadliest strikes in Kabul in months, an army doctor said. The bomber detonated in western Kabul during the busy rush hour, close to an army recruitment centre and a hospital, but the Afghan interior ministry said NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was the target. "We have five bodies brought to our hospital so far... the number of the dead is more than 20, all civilians. The death toll is very high," Afghan army chief doctor General Ahmad Zia Yaftali said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban militia has made suicide bombings a signature of its nearly nine-year insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government and US-led troops. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also thenews.com.pk, May 18, "Suicide attack kills 40 in Afghan capital."]

05.18.10 Yemen court sentences six Somali pirates to death

DUBAI (Reuters) May 18 - A court in Yemen sentenced six Somali pirates to death for hijacking a Yemeni oil tanker in April 2009, killing one Yemeni crew member and leaving another missing, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. Six other pirates were sentenced to 10 years in prison in the hijacking, which also wounded four crew members of the "Qana" ship that was heading to the port of Aden. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.18.10 Bomb kills 11 people in northwestern Pakistan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) May 18 - A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed 11 people Tuesday in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape a large army offensive against the Taliban, police said. The explosion, which killed three police officers and eight civilians, struck the patrol vehicle as it traveled through the town of Dera Ismail Khan, said Mohammed Aslam, a senior police official in the area. The victims included a senior police officer in the area as well as his guard and driver, Aslam said. The civilians who were killed included two schoolchildren, he said. Another 15 people were wounded. [More>>japantoday.com; See other details,

foxnews.com (AP) May 18, "Remote-controlled bomb targeting police patrol in NW Pakistan kills 13, including 3 police"
: A remote-controlled bomb targeting a police patrol killed 13 people Tuesday in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape an army offensive against the Taliban, police said. The attack, which killed three police officers and 10 civilians, occurred as the patrol vehicle traveled through the town of Dera Ismail Khan, said Gul Afzal Khan, the police chief in the area. He initially blamed the explosion on a suicide bomber but later said it was a remote-controlled bomb...

05.18.10 First case of burka rage in France

May 18 - Taking offence at the attire of a fellow shopper, a 60-year-old lawyer ripped a Muslim woman's burka off in a clothing shop, in what is being described by the police as France's first case of rage against the Islamic veil. During a weekend shopping trip the woman lawyer had an argument over the attire following which the pair came to blows before being arrested. The incident happened due to growing racial tensions in the country, as France prepares to introduce a total ban on burkas and other forms of religious dress, which cover the face, The Telegraph reports. [More>>indianexpress.com]

05.17.10 Euro plunges to four-year low against dollar

May 17 - Nervous trading sent the euro into a nosedive early today, as fears of further debt crisis contagion and stalling growth crept across dealing rooms. The euro, already under pressure in New York before the weekend, plunged to a four-year low of $1.2237 against the greenback in Asian trade this morning, sending stock markets in Japan and South Korea sharply lower. The euro's slide propelled the battered currency through its October 2008 low of $1.2329 — a support level that many had thought would hold out longer. By early afternoon it had clawed its way back to $1.2339, but analysts said that a sell-off was likely to continue over the coming weeks. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,

nytimes.com, May 17, "Europe's debt crisis is casting a shadow over China"
: HONG KONG - The pain of the European debt crisis is spreading, with the plummeting euro making Chinese companies less competitive in Europe, their largest market, and complicating any move to break the Chinese currency's peg to the dollar. Chinese policy makers reached a consensus last month about dropping the dollar peg. But allowing the renminbi, the Chinese currency that is also known as the yuan, to rise against the dollar now would mean a further increase in the renminbi's level against the euro, creating even more problems for Chinese exporters to Europe. The euro has plunged against the renminbi in recent weeks, at one point Monday reaching its lowest level since late 2002 before turning higher...

msnbc.msn.com, May 17, "GM posts its first quarterly profit in 3 years" : DETROIT - Detroit automaker says it has ‘good chance’ of making a profit in 2010. General Motors Co posted a first-quarter profit as production snapped back. The automaker also said it was making progress on a turnaround expected to put it on track toward its first full-year profit since 2004. Analysts said the results underscored the advances GM made by slashing costs in a bankruptcy funded by the Obama administration and kept open the prospect the automaker would launch an initial public offering as soon as this year. GM posted a net profit of $865 million, compared with a loss of $5.98 billion a year before as it ramped up production by nearly 57 percent from year-earlier levels to meet steadier demand in the United States and a sales boom in China...

05.17.10 Wounded rogue Thai general dies as chaos continues

BANGKOK, May 17 - A rogue Thai general who helped anti-government protesters and was shot by an unidentified sniper died on Monday from his wounds, raising fears of new violence after five days of street battles that have killed 36 people in downtown Bangkok. Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdiphol, a renegade army officer accused of creating a paramilitary force for the Red Shirt protesters, died on Monday of gunshot wounds, the Vajira Hospital reported. The death came five days after he was shot in the head by a sniper in downtown Bangkok while talking to journalists inside the perimeter of the protest zone. The attack on Khattiya, more popularly known as Seh Daeng, triggered widespread street fighting between anti-government protesters and the army in central Bangkok.

"Seh Daeng has accomplished his duty. All of us here have the duty to carry on the quest for justice," a Red Shirt leader, Jatuporn Prompan, said. He said that the only hope now to end the violence was intervention by Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The 82-year-old monarch, hospitalized since September, has remained publicly silent on the crisis unlike decades past when he stepped in to stop bloodshed. The Red Shirts have been protesting since mid-March demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

05.17.10 Iran signs nuclear fuel-swap deal with Turkey

May 17 - Iran has signed an agreement to send uranium abroad for enrichment after mediation talks in Tehran with Turkish and Brazilian leaders. Correspondents say the plan could revive a UN-backed proposal and may ward off another round of sanctions. But the BBC's Tehran correspondent says the deal will be viewed with scepticism in Western capitals, as Iran says it will continue enriching uranium. Meanwhile, France has announced progress at the UN on fresh sanctions. AFP news agency reported that Israeli officials were accusing Iran of manipulating Brazil and Turkey to stave off sanctions. The West has long suspected that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at making weapons - a charge Tehran denies. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.17.10 Day 28: BP has some success containing oil spill

May 17 - BP Says will pay 'all legitimate claims' regardless of $75 million cap. For nearly four weeks BP's well has been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but now the company says one of its schemes to capture that oil is actually working. Remote submersibles hooked up a mile-long tube to the broken well pipe over the weekend. BP says it is siphoning some of the leaking oil to a tanker on the surface. "We've got flow going, it is great progress over the last 24 hours. What we are doing is slowing, doing something called opening up the choke at the top of well to slowly increase the flow rates," Bob Dudley, BP's managing director who is overseeing the response efforts, said on "GMA." "We want to draw down the pressures at the bottom without bringing in the sea water … so we are doing this slowly and over the next day or so we should have a better idea of the flow rate from the well," Dudley said. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

05.17.10 Pakistan military kills 'fighters'

May 17 - Pakistan's military says it has killed more than 60 suspected fighters close to the country's border with Afghanistan. Fighter jets and ground forces attacked targets in the Orakzai tribal region in the latest attempt to flush out Pakistani Taliban fighters from the area. Up to 42 people died in Monday's air raids, with a further 18 killed by Pakistani troops in the ground. One soldier died and 10 were wounded in the fighting, the country's military said. The campaign against Pakistani Taliban fighters in Orakzai is now in its second month. Thousands of people have fled the area because of the heavy fighting, and media access is restricted, making it impossible to verify the military's claims.

Meanwhile, fighters who kidnapped 60 people at gunpoint elsewhere in Pakistan's tribal region on Sunday have released 40 of their hostages, according to a local official. A further 10 people said they escaped from the kidnappers, who ambushed the group in Kurram while they were on their way to Peshawar, Rasheed Khan, a local administrator, said. The kidnappers released women, children and the poor, but kept wealthy hostages so they could declare ransom from their families, Khan said. "Now the militants only have 10 people in their custody, and efforts are under way to recover them," he said. 
[>aljazeera.net; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, May 17, "Taliban leader surrenders" : MIANWALI, Pakistan - A self-[pro]claimed Ameer of Tahreek-e-Taliban Saraiki Hanif Gabol alias Maviya has handed over himself to Mianwali police, Geo News reported on Monday. Police sources said that Hanfi Gabol belonged to [the] Choti area of Dera Ghazi Khan. He joined Tahreek-e-Taliban (Hasan group) and [was] appointed as Ameer of Saraiki lashkar to carry out terror activities. Under arrest, he claimed several terrorist incidents [that] happened in different parts of Punjab. Hanif Gobal was the mastermind of [an] attack on Khosa House in Dera Ghazi Khan, police sources added. He admitted his involvement in terror acts in front of media and claimed that he is expert in making suicide jackets. [end]

thenews.com.pk, May 17, "Forces kill eight militants in Orakzai" : PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A security man was martyred and seven others injured during skirmishes between security forces and militants in lower Orakzai whereas eight militants were killed in a retaliatory action. Sources said militants stormed a check post in Khawastori area in lower Orakzai. A security official was martyred and seven others wounded in the attack. Eight militants were killed and several others injured during retaliatory action of the forces. Operation in the area is underway. [end]

05.17.10 MUI wants Ba'asyir sermon in Banten cancelled

JAKARTA, May 17 - The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has asked the Old Banten sultanate management not to invite Abu Bakar Ba'asyir to deliver a sermon at the compound after the arrest of 12 suspected terrorists linked to the firebrand cleric. MUI Banten chapter secretary Syibli Sarjaya, said in Serang, Banten, Monday that management should get another  preacher to “avoid new problems.” He said that he was told that Ba’asyir, in previous sermons at Banten, had said that the government was thogut, or evil, for not implementing sharia law...The police recently arrested 12 members of the Jamaah Anshoru Tauhid group, which was established and led by Ba'asyir, for terrorism allegations. [Full story>>thejakartapost.com]

05.17.10 Now, a fatwa against birthday celebration!

May 17 - In a fresh fatwa, Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deboand has said that Islam does not permit celebrating birthdays. Responding to a query posed by a woman, the country's biggest Islamic seminary observed that the tradition to celebrate birthdays was started by the Jews and Christians, but Islam does not permit this practice. The Darul Uloom Deoband has in recent days issued edicts declaring that working in banks and opting for an insurance policy was against the tenets of Islam, sparking a debate. The seminary had also decreed that it was illegal according to the Sharia or Islamic law for a woman to work and for a family to accept a woman's earnings. [More>>indianexpress.com]

05.16.10 Huge oil plumes found under Gulf as BP struggles

(AP) May 16 - Oil from a blown-out well is forming huge underwater plumes as much as 10 miles long below the visible slick in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said as BP wrestled for a third day Sunday with its latest contraption for slowing the nearly month-old gusher. BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the US, has been unable to thread a tube into the leak to suck the crude to a tanker. Engineers remotely steering robot submersibles were trying again Sunday to fit the tube into a breach nearly a mile below the surface, BP said. Oil has been spewing since the rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 people and sinking two days later. The government shortly afterward estimated the spill at 210,000 gallons — or 5,000 barrels — a day, a figure that has since been questioned by some scientists who fear it could be far more. BP executives have stood by the estimate while acknowledging there's no way to know for sure. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

05.16.10 Out of the depths comes war's lethal legacy

May 16 - Vessels wrecked by the elements, scuttled, or sunk by submarines are emptying their dangerous cargoes into the world's oceans. Environmentalists are becoming increasingly concerned that some of the thousands of wrecked ships around the globe, many of them along Britain's coastline and dating back to the Second World War, are ticking time bombs that could be about to wreak one final act of havoc. Many of the vessels, which have lain almost forgotten at the bottom of the world's oceans for decades, were destroyed by enemy action or scuttled after the war. Some were oil tankers or supply ships packed with aviation fuel and ammunition.

More than half are believed to be British. And now, as they rust away, they are starting to leak. Earlier this year the Royal Navy's auxiliary ship Darkdale sprang an oil leak, prompting a ban on fishing in the area of the South Atlantic where it lay. The vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine as it lay at anchor off Jamestown Harbour in the British territory of St. Helena in 1941. It sank with the loss of almost all hands and its cargo of 3,000 tons of fuel oil, 850 tons of aviation gasoline and 500 tons of diesel and lubricating oil....Such is the concern about war wrecks that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Ministry of Defence have just completed compiling a database of every ship wrecked in Britain's coastal waters
they extend 200 miles out to sea since 1870. Of the 9,905 wrecks catalogued, around a third are thought to be from the Second World War.

...Sea Australia has more than 8,500 Second World War wrecks on its database. The Pacific is thought to be at particular risk. In 2008, scientists warned that the pristine lagoons of Micronesia were at risk from oil slicks originating from sunken ships. Ms. Matthews added that one area of concern is the establishment of responsibility for the wrecks when they lie in international waters. A 2004 survey by Sea Australia found that 51 per cent of wrecks across the globe were owned by the UK, with the next highest, 16 per cent, belonging to the United States. The MoD said it is only responsible for wrecks in British territorial waters. Sea Australia disagrees. "If you own the ship and you own the cargo, then are you not also responsible for the cargo causing pollution in somebody else's waters?" asked Ms Matthews. "The short answer to that is 'yes.' "
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

05.16.10 US drone kills 15 suspected militants in northwest Pakistan

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 16 - A US drone attack has killed at least 15 suspected militants in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border, local authorities said on Sunday. All the 15 militants were killed on Sunday after the missiles fired by the drone hit the suspected terrorists' hideouts in the villages of Dabori, Gojar and Kamer Mela in the Orakzai tribal region, the authorities said. Violence surged in the country in 2009, with Taliban militants staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside devices as part of their fight against US and NATO troops. Over 600 militants, including several influential Taliban commanders, were killed in drone airstrikes in the country's restive tribal belt in 2009. [>en.rian.ru; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, May 16, "15 extremists killed in Orakzai"
: HANGU: At least 15 extremists were killed and six others injured in shelling by the security forces’ fighter jets in Upper Orakzai Agency, Geo News reported Sunday. The security forces’ fighter jets pounded two havens of extremists in Upper Orakzai Agency areas of Khadezai and Ghalju, killing 15 extremists present there and injuring six others. Also, both the hideouts were destroyed in the shelling. The forces’ operation is in progress for 50 days now and at least 700 extremists have been killed in the operation and their 80 havens including 20 training centers were devastated. [end]

05.16.10 For car bomb suspect, a long path to Times Square

May 16 - Just after midnight on Feb. 25, 2006, Faisal Shahzad sent a lengthy e-mail message to a group of friends. The trials of his fellow Muslims weighed on him — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the plight of Palestinians, the publication in Denmark of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. Mr. Shahzad was wrestling with how to respond. He understood the notion that Islam forbids the killing of innocents, he wrote. But to those who insist only on "peaceful protest," he posed a question: "Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? Everyone knows how the Muslim country bows down to pressure from west. Everyone knows the kind of humiliation we are faced with around the globe."

...In April 2009, the same month Mr. Shahzad got his United States citizenship, he sent an e-mail message to friends that foreshadowed his militant destiny. He criticized the views of a moderate Pakistani politician, writing, "I bet when it comes to defending the lands, his opinion would be we should do dialogue." The politician had "bought into the Western jargon" of calling the mujahedeen, or foreign fighters, "extremist," wrote Mr. Shahzad, who urged the recipients of the message to find "a proper Sheikh to understand the Quran." One of the recipients responded by asking Mr. Shahzad which sheikhs he followed. Writing in Urdu, Mr. Shahzad replied, "My sheikhs are in the field." A few months later, he abruptly quit his job and left for Pakistan, where, officials say, he was later trained in bomb-making by the Pakistani Taliban. But precisely what combination of influences — political, religious and personal — drove Mr. Shahzad to violence remains a mystery, even to those close to him.
[Full story>>nytimes.com w/ blog comments]

05.16.10 Swedish Muhammad cartoonist says he doesn't feel safe at home after arson attack

STOCKHOLM (AP) May 16 - A Swedish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a dogs body angered Muslims said Sunday he doesn't feel safe in his home at night, after a week of attacks against him. Lars Vilks told The Associated Press he has started sleeping elsewhere since an attempted arson attack Friday against his home in Nyhamnslage, southern Sweden. Earlier in the week, Vilks was attacked by a man as he gave a lecture at a university in central Sweden, and the following day his Web site appeared to have been targeted by hackers. Vilks said he has decided to sleep elsewhere as a precaution, but doesn't think there will be another attack against him right now because of increased police patrols.

"During the day I don't think it is dangerous because I can keep watch over myself," Vilks said. "But I have to realize that I can't be there during the night." The artist has faced numerous threats over his 2007 sketch. Earlier this year, US investigators said Vilks was the target of an alleged murder plot involving Colleen LaRose, an American woman who dubbed herself "Jihad Jane," and who now faces life in prison. She has pleaded not guilty. Swedish police arrested a 21-year-old man late Saturday and a 19-year-old man on Sunday on suspicion of the attempted arson attack.

05.16.10 Reiss, French woman tried for spying by Iran, returns home

PARIS (Reuters) May 16 - Clotilde Reiss arrived in France on Sunday afternoon, where she was received by President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace. Reiss, held for 10 months in Iran on spying charges, was released Saturday. A French teaching assistant who was arrested in Iran 10 months ago on spying charges arrived home on Sunday after a Tehran court commuted her prison term and gave her back her passport. Clotilde Reiss, 24, was accused of aiding a Western plot to topple Iran’s clerical regime after taking part in anti-government demonstrations last June following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Her lawyer said on Saturday that a court had sentenced her to parallel 5-year prison terms, but commuted this to a fine of $285,000, letting her leave the country, much to the relief of France which had always proclaimed her innocence. [More>>france24.com]

05.16.10 Warning shots fired at N. Korea ship

May 16 - A South Korean ship has fired warning shots to repel two North Korean patrol boats that crossed into the South's waters. Military officers said that the incident late on Saturday occurred in the Yellow Sea off the peninsula's west coast forced the North's boats to return to their waters. "Two patrol boats crossed on two separate occasions and warning shots were fired," an officer at the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. It is the same sea in which a South Korean navy ship sank in March killing 46 soldiers, apparently after being struck by a torpedo. An international team of investigators are due to release a report on the sinking this week. The South has intimated that blame for it lies with the North, although it has not officially said so. [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.16.10 Beijing's rebuff made Kim cut China trip short

BEIJING, May 16 - Request for extraordinary aid denied, as China adhered to UN sanctions. China told North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during his recent visit that it will respect international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang and refused to provide extraordinary economic assistance, an informed source here told the JoongAng Ilbo. According to the source, the Chinese government's position prompted Kim to cut short his stay in China. "At the luncheon between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Kim on May 6, the Chinese government informed the North that China will not provide aid outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang," the source said. "After Beijing's position was explained, Kim shortened his schedule in China." Kim's trip in China lasted from May 2 to 7. Although sources said Kim was to attend the North Korean Pibada Opera Company's performance of "A Dream of Red Mansions" with Chinese leaders on the evening of May 6, he canceled at the last minute and rushed home. [More>>joongangdaily.joins.com]

05.15.10 Clashes continue for the third day

BANGKOK, May 15 - Clashes between troops and protesters continued in Bangkok on Saturday as authorities tried to contain red-shirts around the Ratchaprasong rally site and prevent food supplies entering the area. The Erawan emergency unit reported on Saturday night that street fights have killed 22 people and wounded 172 since Thursday, when authorities tried to seal off the protest site. Six people were killed and 31 wounded in Saturday's clashes between troops and anti-government protesters. All of the dead were civilians, and foreigners were not among the dead, it said

Gunfire and explosions were heard at several locations including the Bon Kai area, Din Daeng intersection, Ratchaprarop Road and Silom Road throughout the day, as red-shirt protesters set a garbage truck, telephone booths and other public property on fire. The army has declared the Ratchaprarop area a "live-firezone" and prohibited the general public from entering the area due to intensifying clashes between troops and red-shirts. "The current situation is almost full civil war," said Jatuporn Prompan, a key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). "I am not sure how this conflict will end."

05.15.10 Suspected militants kidnap 60 in NW Pakistan

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (Reuters) May 15 - Govt efforts underway to recover kidnapped people. Suspected militants dressed as policemen kidnapped about 60 people in troubled northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border on Saturday, government and police officials said. Heavily armed militants first seized a vehicle belonging to the government power utility in the Kurram region and kidnapped four people travelling inside. The vehicle was set on fire. Shortly afterwards, several vehicles were seized from a convoy of civilians travelling to Parachinar, the main city in Kurram. Officials initially said 30 people were kidnapped but later said 57 people had been taken from the convoy. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.15.10 Muslim cleric calls for 'Greater Iran'

TEHRAN, May 15 - Shi'ite Islamic union would stretch from Afghanistan to Israel. A radical cleric called Saturday for the creation of a "Greater Iran" that would rule over the entire Middle East and Central Asia, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam's expected messiah. Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi said the creation of what he termed an Islamic United States is a central aim of the political party he leads called Hizbullah, or Party of God. He added that he hoped to make his vision a reality if the party won the next presidential election. Kharrazi's comments revealed the thinking of a growing number of hard-liners in Iran, many of whom have become more radical during the postelection political crisis and the international standoff over the country's nuclear program. Kharrazi, however, is not highly influential in Iran's clerical hierarchy and his views do not represent those of the current government. [More>>jpost.com; For a different assessment see:

Maravot News 12.10.09 article
12.14.09 Iran president slammed for Mahdi comments DUBAI - Ahmadinejad advisor spreads rumors he speaks to savior. Political and religious Iranian figures slammed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his repeated comments about the Mahdi, or who Muslims's believe is mankind's savior, and warned him about the consequences of rumors that he converses with the holy imam. Secretary-general of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, Habibollah Askar-Oladi, met with the president and told him rumors that link Ahmadinejad to the Mahdi were dangerous and especially rumors that he converses with him, the pro-government Jahan News reported. Askar-Oladi, who is also head of Imam Khomeini's Committee, accused Ahmadinejad's advisor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, of helping to spread the rumors...

05.15.10 Iran 'to free' French spy suspect

May 15 - A French woman who was arrested on espionage charges following last June's disputed presidential election will be acquitted by Sunday, her lawyer has said. Mohammad Ali Mahdavi-Sabet said on Saturday that Clotilde Reiss faced a cash fine for minor charges, but did not elaborate on what the charges were. A $285,000 payment for the fine had been made and he expected her passport to be returned to her on Sunday. "The case of Clotilde Reiss is finished. The court will acquit my client of [spying] charges by Sunday," Mahdavi-Sabet said. "I have paid a fine of $285,000 this morning. I will get her passport tomorrow and she will be allowed to leave immediately after." [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.15.10 Iraq football stadium hit by deadly suicide bombing

May 14 - A suicide bombing at a football stadium in northern Iraq has killed 10 people and injured 120 others, police say. An attacker detonated explosives hidden inside a vehicle at the entrance to the stadium in Tal Afar, a mainly Shia Turkmen town west of Mosul. Witnesses said the blast was followed by at least one other. Some said up to three suicide bombers were involved. Earlier, the militant umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, warned Shias of "dark days soaked with blood." [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.13.10 Offshore natural gas platform sinks off Venezuela

CARCAS, Venezuela (AP) May 13 - An offshore natural gas platform sank off Venezuela on Thursday, and 95 workers were rescued safely, the government said. All of the workers on the Aban Pearl platform off eastern Sucre state were safely evacuated, and the sinking poses no threat to the environment, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

05.13.10 Feds arrest 3, possibly tied to bomb plot

May 13 - Federal authorities have arrested three men living in the greater Boston area in connection with the attempted Times Square bombing, Fox News has learned. FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Thursday morning executed search warrants in "several locations in the Northeast," a statement from ICE said. At least one of the federal raids was in Watertown, Mass., a Boston suburb. Search warrants related to the case were also executed in Camden County, N.J., and on Long Island in New York. Authorities are looking into whether the Boston-area men, at least two of them from Pakistan, and others may have had any role in the Times Square plot or any prior knowledge of it. "These raids are the logical next step in the investigation, after gathering preliminary information to ascertain where money may have come from," one source said. "We're trying to figure out where [the main suspect] got money from, and these are potential sources of that money." [More>>foxnews.com]

05.13.10 'Iran loosening grip on al-Qaeda'

WASHINGTON (AP) Mary 13 - Al-Qaeda operatives who have been detained for years in Iran have been making their way quietly in and out of the country, raising the prospect that Iran is loosening its grip on the terror group so it can replenish its ranks, former and current US intelligence officials said in a statements published Thursday. This shift could indicate that Iran is re-examining its murky relationship with al-Qaeda at a time when the US is stepping up drone attacks in Pakistan and weakening the group's leadership. Any influx of manpower could hand al-Qaeda a boost in morale and expertise and threaten to disrupt stability in the region. US officials said the intelligence points to a worrisome increase in movement lately...The Shi'ite regime there is generally hostile to the Sunni terrorist group, but they have an occasional relationship of convenience based on their shared enemy, the US.

US intelligence officials have tried wiretapping and satellite imagery to watch the men. The CIA even established a highly classified program — code-named RIGOR — to study whether it could track and kill terrorists such as al-Qaeda in Iran. Results have been mixed. Monitoring and understanding al-Qaeda in Iran remains one of the most difficult jobs in US intelligence... Most recently, the concern focused on Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian-born confidant of Osama bin Laden who is on the FBI's most wanted list in connection with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In the past year or so, intelligence officials circulated a bulletin saying al-Adel, one of al-Qaeda's founding fathers, was traveling to Damascus, Syria. The US is offering a $5 million reward for his capture.

...The roster of al-Qaeda figures in Iran is something of a who's who for the terror group. One is Abu Hafs the Mauritanian, a bin Laden adviser who helped form the modern al-Qaeda by merging bin Laden's operation with Ayman al-Zawahiri's Islamic Jihad. Al-Qaeda's longtime chief financial officer, Abu Saeed al-Masri, has been held there. So have bin Laden's spokesman, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, and Mustafa Hamid, an al-Qaeda trainer with a terrorism pedigree that spans decades. Several members of bin Laden's family also have been under house arrest.
[Full story>>jpost.com]

05.13.10 Suspected Taliban killed, arrested

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 13 - Afghan and international security forces have killed more than two dozen suspected Taliban militants and captured several others in northern Afghanistan's Kunduz province, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported Thursday ISAF said the security forces were pursuing a senior Taliban leader into the village of Kharid-e Olya Wednesday night, when they engaged insurgents in a firefight. There were no civilian casualties, according to ISAF. In southern Afghanistan, security forces arrested 40 suspected Taliban members in Helmand province, a government spokesman said Thursday. The two-and-a-half hour operation took place in the Nawzad district of the province Wednesday, according to Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor. In addition to the suspected militants, security forces confiscated munitions, Ahmadi said. There were no reported casualties. [>cnn.com]

05.13.10 Fungus hits Afghan opium poppies

May 13 - A serious disease is affecting opium poppies in Afghanistan, Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has said. Mr. Costa told the BBC that this year's opium production could be reduced by a quarter, compared with last year. He said the disease a fungus is thought to have infected about half of the country's poppy crop. Afghanistan produces 92% of the world's opium. Mr. Costa said opium prices had gone up by around 50% in the region. That could have an impact on revenues for insurgent groups like the Taliban which have large stockpiles of opium, he told the BBC's Bethany Bell. The fungus attacks the root of the plant, climbs up the stem and makes the opium capsule wither away. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.13.10 Iraq toll in Sadr City blast rises to 9

BAGHDAD (AP) May 13 - A late night car bomb that tore through a cafe in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood killing nine people appears to have detonated prematurely, also blowing up three suspected militants in the vehicle, police said Thursday. The microbus loaded with explosives appeared to be the latest attempt by militants to stoke a sectarian conflict by striking at a Shiite neighborhood with strong ties to militias. Police had initially said it was a parked car bomb, but subsequent reports revealed the minibus was moving when it exploded and three bodies were found inside, suggesting they were headed to another target inside the densely populated district of at least 2 million. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.13.10 Russian security services kill 3 members of group behind Moscow bombings

GORKI, Russia (RIA Novosti) May 13 - Three members of a criminal group behind the March 29 terrorist attacks on the Moscow metro have been killed, Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov said on Thursday. The three killed were members of a "criminal group, which included people who had accompanied the suicide bombers on their way to Moscow and one of them to the site of the terrorist attack," he said at a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev. "Unfortunately, we did not manage to detain them alive, they offered fierce armed resistance and were eliminated," he added. Twin powerful blasts hit the Moscow metro during the morning rush hour on March 29, killing 40 people and injuring over 100. Medvedev urged a prompt investigation into the tragedy and said those involved in the bombings should be severely punished. [More>>en.rian.ru]

05.12.10 Netanyahu turns to Bible in tussle over Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) May 12 - Beset by questions about the future of Jerusalem in talks with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin reached for the Bible on Wednesday to stake out the Jewish state's disputed claim on the city. Netanyahu told a parliamentary session commemorating Israel's capture of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war that "Jerusalem" and its alternative Hebrew name "Zion" appear 850 times in the Old Testament, Judaism's core canon. "As to how many times Jerusalem is mentioned in the holy scriptures of other faiths, I recommend you check," he said. Citing such ancestry, Israel calls all of Jerusalem its "indivisible" capital — a designation not recognised abroad, where many powers support Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Jerusalem, at the heart of the Israeli-P [More>>thestar.com.my; See also

jpost.com, May 12, " 'Fight for Jerusalem - fight for truth' " : The fight for Jerusalem is the fight for truth, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared on Tuesday evening at the capital's prestigious Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. Speaking on the eve of Jerusalem Day, the prime minister highlighted of the interaction between truth and justice, stressing that any distortion of justice concerning the Jewish people and Jerusalem was also a distortion of truth. "The truth is that Jerusalem is our lifeblood," he said. "We have an indissoluble connection to it. Thousands of years, three thousands years. We have never relinquished this connection. We didn't relinquish it when the temple was destroyed the first time, we didn't relinquish it when the temple was destroyed a second time."

'The Jewish people are unjustly portrayed as invaders' In an apparent allusion to oft-voiced Palestinian claims that Israel was trying to 'Judaize' Jerusalem, the prime minister said that Israel was "not banishing anyone," but rather reasserting the connection of the Jewish people to the capital, "a connection no other nation possesses." Israel, he added, grants unprecedented freedom of religion and freedom of movement to those belonging to faiths other than Judaism. "I say this because there is an attempt to portray us as foreign invaders, as conquerors, as a people who have no connection to this place, and I say: No other nation has such a connection to its capital."...

05.12.10 North Korea claims success at nuclear fusion

May 12 - North Korea yesterday claimed that it has succeeded in producing a nuclear fusion reaction while talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs remain in deadlock. The reaction Pyongyang was referring to usually occurs naturally. Artificial experiments have been mostly unsuccessful, although there have been many attempts at controlling the energy produced from such a reaction to use for military purposes. A nuclear fusion reaction also occurs when a hydrogen bomb is detonated, a bomb said to be far more damaging than an atomic bomb. This kind of reaction also leaves less radioactive residue. [More>>koreaherald.com]

05.12.10 Police arrest 17 terrorist suspects, kill 5

May 12 - The police's counterterrorism squad has captured 17 terrorist suspects alive and shot dead five others in a series of raids conducted since Thursday last week. Spokesman for the National Police Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said the five suspects were killed in the latest raids on two separate places in Cililitan, East Java and in Cikampek in West Java on Wednesday. The police also arrested a suspect in Cikampek. "We arrested two yesterday [Tuesday] in Jakarta," Edward said as quoted by kompas.com. He added the squad shot dead the five suspected terrorists as they resisted arrest. All the suspects were linked to the terror network in Aceh which was raided in March after the police discovered its training camp inside a jungle in Aceh Besar regency.[More>>thejakartapost.com]

05.12.10 Taliban claims killing of Afghan prison official

KABUL (AP) May 12 - Violence erupted in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday where a Romanian soldier was killed, the Taliban claimed responsibility for assassinating a prison official and an explosion injured at least three people, officials said. Sgt. Maj. Valerica Leu died of injuries sustained in a morning mine explosion, according to Romanian defense officials. Romania has about 1,120 troops in Afghanistan — mostly in the restive south. Leu was the 16th NATO service member to die in Afghanistan this month. Romania has lost 13 service members in the country. Also Wednesday, attackers on motorcycles shot and killed the No. 2 prisons official in the southern province of Kandahar, Afghan government officials said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.12.10 Roadside blast kills 2, hurts 3 in Peshawar

May 12 - PESHAWAR - A roadside blast has taken place near Shamshtu camp situated in the outskirts of Peshawar, killing two people and injuring three others, police said Wednesday. According to the police, students of a local religious seminary are among the dead. They were on their way to homes when the bomb planted by a road went off. Meanwhile, the dead and injured have been shifted to the Lady Redding Hospital, sources say. Mostly Afghan refugees are staying in this camp. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.11.10 Medvedev warns against rising tensions in 'deteriorating' Mideast

DAMASCUS (RIA Novosti) May 11 - The situation in the Middle East is getting worse and an increase of tensions would be extremely dangerous, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday during his visit to Syria. "Any future flare-up of the Mideast situation is fraught with the danger of catastrophe," Medvedev said during a joint news conference with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "I have personally emphasized that Russia will do everything possible to restore Mideast peace talks under the existing international legal base," he added. "The situation is deteriorating, becoming more complicated, and it negatively affects the general climate in the Middle East." [More>>en.rian.ru;See related story,

en.rian.ru (RIA Novosti) May 11, "Russia's Medvedev calls on Hamas to release Israeli soldier Shalit"
: DAMASCUS - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called on the Palestinian radical Islamic group Hamas on Tuesday to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Kremlin spokeswomen Natalia Timakova said. The Israel Defense Forces soldier was seized in June 2006 by Palestinian militants while on patrol near the Gaza Strip. Gaza has been the subject of an almost continuous Israeli blockade since Hamas took control of the enclave in the summer of 2007. The release of Shalit is a major precondition for the lifting of the blockade. [end]

05.11.10 Spain FM: Israel and Palestinians want peace, but time is running out

May 11 - Moratinos, who arrived in Israel to receive honorary degree from Ben Gurion, calls Islamic fundamentalism the common enemy to Arabs, Israelis and Europeans. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos said Tuesday that he was convinced every citizen of Israel was interested in peace with the Palestinians, adding that he believed all sides involved were desperately seeking a solution to the decades-old conflict. Moratinos, who arrived in Israel earlier in the day to receive an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said peace in the Middle East should not be seen as a "utopia."

There are those who say it is impossible to achieve peace, said Moratinos, adding that was not one of those. He said that both sides seemed willing to move forward, but warned that the time for success was running out. The Spanish foreign minister said, however, that the existence of Islamic fundamentalism made such a goal harder to achieve than 21 years ago at the Madrid Summit. Europeans, Palestinians, the Arab states and Israel all have a common enemy in Islamic fundamentalism, Moratinos declared.

05.11.10 Oil companies pass the buck for big spill

WASHINGTON, May 11 - At Senate hearing, lawmaker predicts 'liability chase' among partners. Executives of the three companies involved in the Gulf oil disaster — BP, Transocean and Halliburton — testified before senators Tuesday and were quick to lay blame elsewhere. In their opening statements, the executives wasted no time in going after each other. Transocean, which owned the rig that exploded, suggested work done by subcontractor Halliburton could have been the key factor. Halliburton and BP, meanwhile, said the blowout preventer that failed on Transocean's rig was critical...In Congress, lawmakers asked oil industry giant BP, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, why its drilling plans discounted the risk that such a catastrophic pipeline rupture would ever happen, and why it assumed that if a leak did occur, the oil would not pose a major threat. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

05.11.10 US drone attack kills 14 in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH (AFP) May 11 - US drones fired a barrage of 12 missiles, destroying a training camp for Islamist fighters in Pakistan's tribal belt and killing 14 militants on Tuesday, security officials said. It was the second strike in the same mountainous area close to the Afghan border since Sunday, when the United States accused the Pakistani Taliban of being behind a plot to detonate a car bomb in Times Square 10 days ago. The training camp was run by militants attached to Taliban-linked Afghan warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is reputed to control up to 2,000 fighters who attack US-led forces over the border in Afghanistan, officials said. The compound was in the Lowara Mandi area of North Waziristan district, seen as a fortress of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal badlands. "According to the latest reports we have, a total of 14 militants were killed. They targeted a compound and vehicles parked outside the house," one senior Pakistani security official said on condition of anonymity. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See other details,

thenews.com.pk, May 11, "US missiles kill at least 24 in NW" :
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan - US drone aircraft killed at least 24 suspected militants in two attacks on Tuesday in North Waziristan, security officials said. In the first of Tuesday's two drone attacks, more than 12 missiles were fired in Dattakhel village, about 30 km (20 miles) west of Miranshah, North Waziristan. "Three missiles hit a vehicle and three militants sitting in it were killed," said an intelligence agency official in the region, who declined to be identified. The drones then fired a barrage of missiles at a nearby militant compound, killing at least 11 more, according to a second security official. There was no word on the identity of any of the militants killed but the attack was in an area where members of an Afghan Taliban faction led by a commander known as Gul Bahadur operate. The second attack was on a militant camp on the border with Afghanistan, some distance from the first strike. Two missiles killed at least 10 militants, intelligence officials and residents said. Taliban officials were not available for comment. [end]

foxnews.com, May 11, "US missiles kill 24 in Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan"
: ...Hours later, another pair of missiles hit a compound in the Gorwek area of North Waziristan killing another 10 suspected insurgents, including the brother of a reputed Taliban commander, Maulvi Kalam...

Related story:

thenews.com.pk, May 11, "Fighter jets pound Taliban hideouts" : HANGU, Pakistan - At least 10 militants were killed and five were wounded on Tuesday after security forces targeted their (militants) hideouts in Orakzai Agency. Security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded suspected militant dens located in different parts of Upper and Lower Orakzai, leaving 10 militants killed. So far more than 650 militant had been killed in the military operation launched one and half months ago in Orakzai Agency. In addition, more than 70 militant hideouts and their 15 training facilities were also destroyed in the offensive. [end]


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