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WORLD IN BRIEF

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thai Police Say Attempt To Kill Premier Thwarted

BANGKOK -- Thai police said on Thursday they had thwarted an attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who promptly fired a top security aide whose driver, they said, was caught in a car with the makings of a huge bomb.

An army lieutenant, who identified himself as the driver of Gen. Pallop Pinmanee, deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command, was detained, police said.

Police quoted the man, identified as Lt. Thawatchai Klinchana, as saying he had no idea what was in the car and was driving it to an address nearby at the request of a friend.

Thaksin promptly fired Pallop, who proclaimed his innocence.

africa

· JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa's cabinet has given its blessing to a bill allowing gay marriage, after the country's highest court ruled in December that it is unconstitutional to deny gay people the right to marry.

The bill, which must still be adopted by parliament, would make the country the first in Africa to accord homosexual couples the same rights as their straight counterparts.

asia and the pacific

· CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia announced a $7.6 billion plan to increase the size of its army so it can respond more quickly to emergencies caused by growing instability in small Asia-Pacific nations.

· DILI, East Timor -- Rival gangs armed with machetes and stones fought in East Timor's capital, injuring at least 13 people, witnesses and officials said.

· MANILA -- Philippine troops killed at least six Muslim guerrillas after a dawn raid on their camp on the remote southwestern island of Jolo in a hunt for about 200 members of the Abu Sayyaf group, a senior military official said.

· ASADABAD, Afghanistan -- A NATO soldier handing out relief was killed and four were wounded when Taliban guerrillas attacked them in the southern province of Zabol, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

europe

· HELSINKI -- The European Union questioned the circumstances surrounding the death of an Iranian student activist and called on Tehran to launch an independent investigation into the case.

The E.U. said it was "gravely concerned" about Iranian human rights activists after the death of Akbar Mohammadi, 34, in a Tehran prison on July 31 after a nine-day hunger strike to protest a lack of medical care.

· BELGRADE -- Two former policemen have been charged with the 1999 killing of three imprisoned Albanian brothers who were American citizens and found in a mass grave in 2001, Serbia's war crimes court said.

the americas

· OAXACA, Mexico -- Protesters said they were willing to enter talks to end a months-long protest by leftists and striking teachers but insist that the state's governor resign.

-- From News Services

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