Pakistan escalates Taliban assault

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LONDON — Pakistani fighter jets attacked Taliban strongholds Monday, and Islamist fighters retaliated with a roadside bombing, as a long-expected military operation in North Waziristan, the country’s most lawless tribal district, moved into its second day.

The Taliban warned foreign companies and airlines to leave Pakistan or risk becoming targets in the conflict.

The action Sunday and Monday, with a combined reported death toll of at least 167 people, suggested that the military’s Waziristan campaign will initially be waged mainly from the air.

Public opinion in Pakistan has long been divided on whether to try to end the Taliban insurgency through negotiations. But the militant attack on the Karachi airport last week, which killed at least 36 people and temporarily closed the airfield, has been seen as a humiliation and has galvanized opinion in favor of military action.

Abdullah cries fraud

KABUL, Afghanistan — Less than 48 hours after a runoff election to choose the next president of Afghanistan, the first signs of a looming political crisis emerged Monday, with the campaign of Abdullah Abdullah claiming there had been widespread ballot stuffing and suggesting he was being set up for a defeat he would not accept.

An anonymous senior campaign official for Abdullah, who won the most votes in the election’s first round, said the candidate believes President Hamid Karzai and a coterie of advisers around him orchestrated the fraud. The aim, in the estimation of the Abdullah campaign, was either to install Ashraf Ghani, the other candidate for president, or to see Karzai use a postelection crisis as an excuse to extend his own term in office. 

Sri Lanka religious strife

ALUTHGAMA, Sri Lanka — In some of the worst religious violence in Sri Lanka in decades, three people have been killed and 78 injured in riots between Buddhists and Muslims in this southwestern coastal town after months of rising tensions, officials said Monday.

The riots Sunday followed a protest march by a hard-line Buddhist group, Bodu Bala Sena, which is led in part by monks. Its name roughly translates as “Buddhist Power Force.” Previous attacks by the Bodu Bala Sena have gone unpunished, and hard-line monks have been able to operate largely with legal impunity.

China death sentences

BEIJING — A Chinese court has sentenced three people to death and five others to prison in connection with a deadly terrorist attack in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last fall, authorities said Monday.

Two pedestrians were killed and about 40 were injured in the October incident, in which a jeep drove through a crowd of tourists and then burst into flames in front of the Forbidden City in the center of the Chinese capital. Authorities have blamed the attack on separatists from the restive northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Egypt releasing reporter

CAIRO — Egypt’s top prosecutor Monday ordered the release of Abdullah Elshamy, an Al-Jazeera journalist who has been on hunger strike for more than four months to protest his prolonged detention without charges or trial.

The case is the first prosecution of journalists on terrorism-related charges in Egypt.

Meanwhile, masked armed men, suspected to be Islamic militants, kidnapped two Coptic Christians in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in two separate incidents, officials said.

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