Congo rebels threat
Congolese Tutsi rebels threatened to advance into U.N.-monitored buffer zones in eastern Congo after refusing to sign a declaration ending hostilities with the government, the rebels and mediators said. After several days of U.N.-backed talks in Nairobi, the rebels, led by Laurent Nkunda, also declined to extend a cease-fire in Congo’s North Kivu province. That raised fears of renewed fighting in the province, where more than 250,000 civilians have been driven from their homes since late August.
Director Mulligan dies
Director Robert Mulligan, who directed the classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” died at the age of 83. The filmmaker had received an Oscar nomination for his 1962 film, which was based on Harper Lee’s book of the same name. Mulligan passed away at his Connecticut home last Friday after suffering a heart attack. Mulligan has directed over 20 films including 1978’s “Bloodbrothers” and 1991’s “The Man in the Moon”.
Tamil Tiger fighters kill soldiers
Tamil Tiger rebels killed 60 Sri Lankan troops advancing toward their de facto capital, a pro-rebel report said. The government said 12 soldiers died. Meanwhile, the government said its troops captured a strategic village in the northeast. Clashes have intensified recently as the military continues a major push to end the 25-year civil war.
Airstrike in Pak
Intelligence officials have said that a suspected U.S. missile strike has killed at least seven people in volatile northwest Pakistan. Yar Mohammad, a villager, said a fort-like house was destroyed and that local Taliban insurgents pulled out seven bodies while cordoning off the scene. He said he heard a drone aircraft circling the area before the attack on Monday morning. The intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to the news media, confirmed the strike.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) of Colombia has offered to free a former governor, a former lawmaker and four other hostages to help jump-start talks on a prisoner swap. The guerrillas have said that three unidentified police officers and a soldier would be freed first “as an irrefutable demonstration of our good will and as a gesture aimed at creating conditions favourable to a humanitarian exchange.” The FARC did not give a date for the releases. The guerrillas released six politicians in January and February. In July, a military operation freed 15 high-profile hostages, including three U.S. contractors and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
A robotic submarine searched beneath the Mediterranean Sea for damaged communications cables, two days after Web and telephone access was knocked out for much of West Africa. Telecommunication providers from Cairo to Dubai continued to scramble to reroute voice and data traffic through potentially costly detours in Asia and North America after the lines running under the Mediterranean were damaged. Internet access was largely knocked out for two days in at least six countries — Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen.
Parts of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel and the Oberoi Trident hotel complex in Mumbai reopened less than a month after gunmen stormed the buildings and killed dozens of guests and staff members. The main areas of both luxury hotels are expected to stay closed for months, but the landmarks rushed to woo guests back during the holidays. Police manned barricades outside the Taj, while armed undercover guards kept watch inside. Everyone walking into the lobby was asked for proof of their hotel reservation. Visitors handed their bags over for inspection and walked through metal detectors, and their luggage was scanned through X-ray screening machines.
Compiled by SUBAJAYANTHI
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