World briefs 12/22/10


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NATO denies Pakistan raids

KABUL -- The NATO force in Afghanistan denied Tuesday that the American military intends to carry out ground raids inside Pakistan in pursuit of insurgent leaders hiding there.

The sharply worded statement underscored the extreme sensitivities surrounding the subject of militant sanctuaries inside Pakistan, which were identified last week in a White House assessment of the Afghan conflict as a key impediment to subduing the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

In recent years, the U.S. military has launched numerous incursions into Pakistan, though the vast majority have been carried out by unmanned aerial drones. Only a few have involved ground troops. The cross-border raids generally trigger public denunciation by Pakistani officials, though they are widely believed to have tacitly approved at least the airstrikes.

The New York Times reported in Tuesday's editions that senior U.S. military officials believe they will soon be authorized to send American special operations forces into Pakistan's tribal areas with the aim of capturing figures from the Taliban and a virulent offshoot organization, the Haqqani network.

Public spaces were targets

LONDON -- A large-scale terror attack was aimed at British landmarks and public spaces, security officials said Tuesday as more details emerged and police searched the homes of 12 British suspects being held for questioning.

The men -- whose ages range from 17 to 28 -- were arrested Monday in the largest counterterrorism raid in nearly two years. At least five were of Bangladeshi origin.

Lord Carlile, the government's independent watchdog for terror legislation, said the alleged plot appeared significant and involved several British cities, but he did not identify the targets.

Russia, India make deal

Russia and India signed pacts Tuesday to provide missiles for the Indian army, develop advanced stealth fighter jets and build more nuclear reactors as their leaders vowed to double trade over four years.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's two-day visit to India comes after similar trips by President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Major nations are jostling for contracts as India builds its armed forces and plots a $100 billion expansion of its nuclear-power generating capacity.

Assault on journalist

BEIJING -- Police detained six men as suspects in the beating of a Chinese journalist who now lies brain-dead in a hospital in the far west of the country, an employee of his newspaper said Tuesday. The assault was the worst on a journalist in China in recent memory.

The injured man, Sun Hongjie, was based in the remote town of Kuitin for the Beijiang Morning Post, known in English as the Northern Xinjiang Morning Post. He was attacked late Friday night and has been in a coma since, according to reports.

Mr. Sun has a reputation in the western region of Xinjiang as a crusading journalist who sought to expose corruption and wrongdoings.

11 killed in Iran quake

TEHRAN -- At least 11 people died during a 6.5-magnitude earthquake Monday night in southeastern Iran, state radio reported Tuesday.

The total number of casualties was unclear at midday Tuesday, but the semiofficial Fars news agency reported that in one area in the province of Kerman, at least 1,800 houses were damaged. There were several reports of people trapped under rubble.

The tremor's epicenter was 60 miles from the ancient city of Bam, where a 2003 quake killed at least 26,000 people.

-- Compiled from news services



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