WORLD IN BRIEF

WORLD IN BRIEF

(By Wally Santana -- Associated Press)

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

RUSSIA

Chechen Held in Death of Investigative Reporter

The former head of a district in Chechnya has been arrested on suspicion of organizing the execution-style murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya last year, a Russian newspaper reported Saturday.

Law enforcement agents detained Shamil Burayev on Thursday as he drove his car in Moscow, the tabloid daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported, and the Basmanny district court sanctioned his arrest a day later on suspicion of "organizing a murder."

Politkovskaya's persistent reporting of atrocities against civilians in the war-scarred Chechnya region had angered the Kremlin and the Kremlin-backed Chechen leadership, but won her international acclaim.

pakistan

Musharraf Assured on Vote Before Rival Arrives

Pakistan's ruling party on Saturday assured the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, that he would be elected to a new five-year term next month before exiled opposition leader Benazir Bhutto returns to the country.

Bhutto, a former prime minister, plans to come home from eight years in exile on Oct. 18. Musharraf had been negotiating a possible power-sharing deal with Bhutto but has faced resistance from his political allies, and the two have not reached an accord.

ERITREA

President Backs New Somali Opposition Group

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki has backed a new Somali opposition alliance, saying arch-foe Ethiopia's fight against insurgents in Mogadishu was doomed to fail, state media reported Saturday.

The formation of the group in Eritrea last week has generated yet more friction between Ethiopia and Eritrea after their border war from 1998 to 2000. Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia last year to help the interim government chase out the radical Islamic Courts movement. Some of the movement's leaders and supporters regrouped as the current insurgency.

TAIWAN

Residents Demonstrate for U.N. Membership

More than 100,000 Taiwanese rallied to demand that the United Nations accept the island as a member, the most important step yet in the government-orchestrated campaign to emphasize its separation from mainland China.

The demonstration in the southern city of Kaohsiung gave ballast to President Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence policies and defied threats from China. U.N. membership for Taiwan would need Security Council approval, and China would almost certainly wield its veto.

AFGHANISTAN

Police Kill 3 Linked to S. Korean Kidnappings

Afghan police killed three Taliban commanders allegedly involved in the abduction of 23 South Koreans two months ago, the Interior Ministry said.

The operation took place Friday in Qarabagh province, where insurgents seized the church workers on July 19, the ministry said. There have been several military operations in Ghazni since the last of the captives were released Aug. 30. This month, Afghan officials said they killed a Taliban commander accused of being behind the kidnappings.

JAPAN

Candidate Vows to Avoid Controversial Shrine

Yasuo Fukuda, the new front-runner to succeed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said that if he were chosen as the nation's next leader, he would stay away from a Tokyo shrine seen by Asian neighbors as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

The 71-year-old lawmaker said he would not pay respects at Yasukuni Shrine, which honors some convicted Japanese war criminals along with the country's war dead. Ties with China and South Korea turned icy under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, largely because of his annual visits to the shrine.

SWEDEN

Bounty Offered on Life of Swedish Cartoonist

The head of an al Qaeda-related group in Iraq has offered $100,000 for the killing of a Swedish cartoonist for his drawing of the prophet Muhammad and has threatened to attack big Swedish companies.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group believed to have been formed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, also offered $50,000 to anyone who killed the editor of the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, which published the drawing by Lars Vilks depicting the head of Muhammad on the body of a dog.

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