In Brief

IN BRIEF

October 20, 2008|By FROM SUN NEWS SERVICES

Pakistani troops kill 30 militants near border

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan : Pakistani forces killed at least 30 militants near the Afghan border, as the region's provincial chief called for "peaceful dialogue" in a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher. North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said he told Boucher during the meeting in Peshawar that he wanted to "to resolve all political problems through peaceful dialogue, but there wouldn't be any compromise on maintaining the writ of the government." Pakistani soldiers are battling militants on three fronts in the northwest. In the past, the government has tried unsuccessfully to make peace deals with the insurgents. Washington wants Islamabad to do more to root out the al-Qaida and Taliban fighters based inside Pakistan, whom they blame for rising attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In the latest fighting, Pakistani fighter jets bombed a militant camp and munitions storage facility, killing at least 20 insurgents, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.

9 Chinese workers abducted in Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan : Nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in an oil-rich region of southwestern Sudan in the latest attack on China's interests in the African country, officials said. Sudanese officials blamed a Darfur rebel group for Saturday's kidnapping, calling it a stab at development efforts in Sudan. The attack took place outside the western Darfur region and none of the Darfur rebel groups, who have fought the central government for five years, claimed responsibility. But the rebels have targeted Chinese interests outside Darfur in the past, saying the Asian power's major investments in Sudan's oil sector help the government in its fight in Darfur. International human rights groups and Darfur activists have grown more critical of China's relationship with Sudan, saying the close ties help fuel the bloodshed in Darfur, which has left up to 300,000 dead and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes since 2003.

30,000 march in Paris, protest education cuts

PARIS: More than 30,000 demonstrators marched across Paris yesterday to denounce the conservative government's budget restrictions, job cuts and other controversial reforms in France's public education system. Teachers, students, parents and school administrators took to the streets in the march behind a banner that read, "Education is our future," and vowed to press on with their effort. Emboldened by the turnout, the largest union of French primary school teachers called for a national strike next month. Protesters oppose 11,200 job cuts this school year from the national education system and plans to reduce another 13,500 next year - part of broader plans to cut costs and state bureaucracy.

Somali pirates free hijacked Thai ship

MOGADISHU, Somalia : Somali pirates hijacked a South Korean bulk carrier Wednesday, released another South Korean cargo ship Thursday and let a hijacked Thai ship go Saturday after getting a ransom. Somali minister Ali Abdi Aware reported the release of the Thai ship, but said yesterday that it was unclear how much money was paid. Aware, the minister for foreign affairs for the semiautonomous northern Somali region of Puntland, said Puntland forces will be hunting for the pirates. Last week, Puntland forces freed a Panama-flagged cargo ship from pirates in a gunbattle that killed one soldier. Somalia has become the world's piracy hotspot. There have been 73 attacks this year in the Gulf of Aden, and 29 ships have been hijacked, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Nearly a dozen ships and more than 200 crewmen remain in the hands of pirates.

Missing 6-year-old boy found in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS : As abruptly as he was taken, Cole Puffinburger reappeared. In an abduction that Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito called "as bad as it gets," the 6-year-old was taken from his home Wednesday by men posing as police officers. Authorities suspect Mexican drug dealers with a grudge against Cole's grandfather. After a nationwide search, Cole turned up late Saturday, wandering in front for a church in a quiet residential neighborhood in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip, only a few miles from his home. Cole's father, Robert Puffinburger, smiled, cried and thanked police and neighbors for helping to bring Cole home. Cole was found in "extremely good condition" but was taken to University Medical Center as a precaution, officials said. He was treated and released to his father's care early yesterday.

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