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SOF World Report

Somali Pirates Free Taiwanese Fishing Boat

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry says Somali pirates have freed a Taiwanese fishing boat held since last April. The Win Far 161 and its crew were released Thursday.   The French news agency, AFP, quotes a maritime monitoring group - Ecoterra International - as saying a ransom was paid, but the amount was not immediately clear. The group also says three of the 30 crew members did not survive the ordeal.

Thailand Prepares for Fresh Wave of Protests Ahead of Thaksin Court Verdict

Anti-government protesters in Thailand vow to step up pressure on the government and the Supreme Court ahead of a crucial ruling involving former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Protesters are expected to gather Friday in Bangkok, in front of Thailand's anti-corruption commission, in the first stage of a campaign against the government. The main anti-government group, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, plans a series of protests throughout the country over the next several weeks.

Zimbabwe's Unity Government Marks Shaky First Year in Power

Zimbabwe's rickety government of national unity commemorates its first anniversary Thursday. On February 11 last year, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister of Zimbabwe after disputed elections and months of negotiations. He took the junior post to President Robert Mugabe despite the fact that his Movement for Democratic Change had won a parliamentary majority at the polls. Mr. Tsvangirai also won the first round of the presidential vote in March 2008 although he did not receive the more than 50 percent majority needed for an outright victory. Mr.

ACU-2 Provides Relief to Haiti During Unified Response

As part of Operation Unified Response, the crew of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2 has been working non-stop from dropping off a Marine Air-Ground Task Force assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), to carrying approximately 300 tons of cargo to Killick Haitian Coast Guard Base. Embarked aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), ACU 2 is deployed in support of Operation Unified Response, providing humanitarian aid and medical support to the Haitian people. "Our mission out here is ship-to-shore transport" said Engineman 3rd Class Jarrell Ray, from Sumpter, S.C., assigned to ACU 2.

Remains of Air Force officer recovered in Haiti

Maj. Kenneth Bourland's remains were found Feb. 7 at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, more than three weeks after the hotel collapsed following the 7.0 earthquake Jan. 12. Major Bourland, 37, of Birmingham, Ala., was assigned to U.S. Southern Command, headquartered in Miami, and had traveled to Haiti on official business the day of the earthquake. He had been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel in June 2009. Action is pending on a posthumous promotion to lieutenant colonel.

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.

March C-17 crew completes mission to Haiti

A March Air Reserve Base C-17 Globemaster III aircrew returned home Feb. 1 after flying a five-day humanitarian mission to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The nine-member crew from the 729th Airlift Squadron took 171,400 pounds of cargo and 25 Army and Air Force servicemembers into Haiti and airlifted 263 evacuees and aid workers out in a C-17. March ARB officials have sent six missions and 40 Airmen to help move cargo into and evacuees out of Haiti since Jan. 15 as part of Operation Unified Response.