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Thai Government, UN, Civic Groups Look to Protect Burma Refugees

Civic and refugee activist groups hope talks with the Thai government will ensure the safety of Karen refugees from Burma who face deportation. Talks Wednesday between civic groups and Thailand's Human Rights Commission came after strong efforts by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, diplomats and rights groups prevented the deportation of 1,700 Karen. The Thai military last Friday tried to push the Karen back to Burma, which they fled last year to avoid fighting between Karen rebels and the Burmese military. Soe Aung, a Burmese activist, says now it is important for refu

Iranian Opposition Kept Off Guard Ahead of 1979 Celebrations

With two days to go before the anniversary celebration of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, authorities are slowing the internet and disrupting mobile phone service in what is believed to be an effort to disrupt opposition protests.  A top religious leader is also urging Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to release prisoners. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasts about the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution on state TV, two days tbefore the official celebration.  Meanwhile, on several Web sites, Iran's opposition is urging supporters to turn out for a "peaceful anti-government pr

White-Owned Companies May be Forced to Give Up Majority Stakes in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's unity government is plunged into another crisis as new regulations designed by President Robert Mugabe's loyalists demand that 51 percent of all companies be given to blacks.

Al-Qaida Group in Yemen Reaches Out to Somali Rebels

A Yemen-based al-Qaida group is calling for regional coordination with rebels in Somalia.  The governments of both countries are facing powerful insurgencies from Islamist forces. The deputy commander of the militant group known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Said Ali al-Shihri, has issued an audio statement urging the Somali al-Shabab militants to join with his group in blocking U.S. maritime shipments to Israel. Yemen sits only 30 kilometers across the ocean from Somalia's smaller northern neighbor Djibouti.

Tymoshenko Camp Vows to Contest Ukraine Election Results

Aides to Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko say she is planning a legal challenge of Sunday's presidential election results, which showed a victory for opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych. Ms. Tymoshenko's allies said Tuesday she will not concede until appeals have run their course and recounts have taken place at disputed polling stations. The Ukrainian Election Commission says Ms. Tymoshenko, Ukraine's current prime minister, lost to Mr.

Sudan, Chad Agree to End Hostilities

The presidents of Chad and Sudan have agreed to end hostilities and normalize relations between their countries. Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir spoke to reporters Tuesday after meeting in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. Mr. Bashir said Mr.

Terror Attacks Continue to Traumatize Somalis

In recent years, the rise of the militant al-Shabab group in Somalia, an al-Qaida ally fighting to implement its ultraconservative version of Islam in the Horn of Africa, has been accompanied by suicide and roadside bombings that have horrified Somalis, even those long accustomed to violence. In the Somali capita of Mogadishu, the threat of terrorism has not only altered the city's landscape in some areas, it has changed how the few Somalis still remaining in Mogadishu think and behave.    Just a few years ago, streets in the capital were so congested at times, drivers used to have to bu

Yanukovych Claims Win in Ukraine; Tymoshenko Won't Concede

Nearly complete election results show Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych winning a narrow victory in Sunday's run-off presidential election. With almost all the ballots counted, Mr. Yanukovych has more than 48 percent of the vote compared to about 46 percent for his opponent, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.   However, Ms. Tymoshenko is refusing to concede defeat and may launch a legal challenge to the election results.  Ms. Tymoshenko accused pro-Yanukovych forces of ballot-box stuffing in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. For his part, Mr.

Pakistan Army Recaptures NW Militant Stronghold

Pakistan's army says its forces have recaptured a key Taliban stronghold in a region near the Afghan border. A year ago, Pakistani forces had declared the group of villages called Damadola free of militants following a 2008 offensive.  But officials say Taliban and al-Qaida militants recently returned to defend the strategically-located stronghold north of Khar, the main town in the Bajaur tribal agency. Pakistan's military says its troops and a tribal militia, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, killed some 60 militants in the new offensive.  The military's account has not been

In Nigeria, Court Ruling Calls Week-end Election into Question

In Nigeria, there’s speculation that the gubernatorial elections set for Saturday in Anambra State may be called off.  Yesterday, the Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is not competent to conduct or organize the poll.

Shi'ites Targeted by Bombings in Karachi

Two bomb explosions in southern Pakistan have left at least 25 people dead and wounded scores of others. Police have yet to determine whether one of the attacks was the work of a suicide bomber.

10 American Missionaries in Haiti Charged with Kidnapping and Criminal Association

Haitian authorities have charged 10 American missionaries with child kidnapping and criminal association for allegedly trying to take 33 Haitian children out of the country illegally. Haiti's government has suggested the case could be transferred to the United States but, for the moment, the ten have been returned to a jail in the capital Port-au-Prince where they have been held since their arrest last Friday.

Pakistan Arrests 35 for Bombing of US Troops

Pakistani officials say they have arrested 35 people in connection with the suicide car bombing Tuesday that killed three American military trainers and four Pakistanis in northwest Pakistan. Police official Naeem Khan said Thursday that Pakistani police are questioning the suspects to determine who orchestrated the attack in Lower Dir district. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility. Three of the Pakistani victims were schoolgirls, and the fourth was a local soldier.

Zimbabwe Prepares for Food Shortage

Zimbabwe has had to start importing grain before the end of the agricultural season because a prolonged drought has reduced estimated food harvests. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made says Zimbabwe must import 500,000 tons of corn (maize) to ensure food stability.  This is in response to the protracted dry spell that has seen crops dying in most of the country. But Commercial Farmer's Union President Deon Theron told VOA his organization had advised the government that crops needed to be planted early because of a forecast el-Nino effect that would create an abnormal season. "If you loo

US Cautious on Ahmadinejad Nuclear Comments

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ready to accept an international proposal that would ease concerns about the country's nuclear program, it would be welcomed news.  But U.S. officials say Iran must communicate its intentions to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Officials here say they are taking Mr.