Hamas Security Forces Beat Protesters in Gaza

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hamas Security Forces Beat Protesters in Gaza

GAZA CITY -- Security men for the Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding news media offices to prevent footage from getting out.

The radical Islamic group says it is willing to tolerate dissent, but the crackdown was the latest in a series of moves to suppress opposing voices, including breaking up private parties Friday and Monday where people were singing songs of the rival Fatah movement.

After Hamas gunmen in Gaza routed forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah in five days of fighting in June, the group declared an amnesty for former Fatah fighters.

But when Fatah and allied groups announced plans for Monday's rally, Hamas banned "all demonstrations and public gatherings" that do not have official permission.

THE MIDDLE EAST

· TEHRAN -- Judicial officials have wrapped up their investigation of two Iranian American academics, Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, accused of conspiring to destabilize Iran, but no decision has been reached on whether to put them on trial, a prosecutor said.

EUROPE

· WARSAW -- Poland's bickering conservative coalition collapsed with the dismissal of four cabinet ministers, clearing the way for an early election expected this year.

In the months since twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski became president and prime minister, respectively, Poland has had conflicts with the European Union and bizarre squabbles within the ruling camp -- but it also has had vibrant economic growth and built on strong ties with the United States.

· BERLIN -- A 1973 order by East Germany's Stasi to shoot people fleeing the communist country -- a document that emerged over the weekend -- is being evaluated to determine whether it could aid in prosecuting former members of the secret police agency, officials said.

· MOSCOW -- Russia launched a terrorism investigation after a bomb derailed an express train, injuring dozens, an official said.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

· ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, vigorously defended his government's independence from Washington and said he was "200 percent sure" the United States would not launch unilateral strikes against terrorists in Pakistan.

· PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea -- Michael Somare, 71, won a second consecutive term as prime minister, promising to help South Pacific neighbors defend their sovereignty.

· SEOUL -- South Korea said it will confiscate $27 million worth of land from the descendants of 10 people who allegedly collaborated with Japan during its 1910-45 colonial rule, a presidential panel said.

· TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, was acquitted of corruption charges Tuesday, lifting a dark cloud from a politician many see as Taiwan's best hope for better relations with rival China. Ma, 57, was indicted earlier this year on charges he diverted $333,000 of public money into his private account while serving as mayor of Taipei.

· SEOUL -- Flooding left hundreds dead or missing in North Korea and destroyed more than 30,000 homes in a week, state media reported.

· BEIJING -- A bridge under construction as a tourist attraction collapsed, killing at least 22 people and leaving 46 missing, China Central Television reported.

-- From News Services


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