The Iraqi government yesterday declared a state of emergency for 60 days throughout the country except for Kurdish-run areas in the north as US and Iraqi forces prepare for an expected all-out assault on rebels in Fallujah. \nHeavy explosions were heard in Baghdad as the announcement was being made by government spokesman Thair Hassan al-Naqeeb, who said interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi would give more details today. \n"It is going to be a curfew. It is going to be so many things, but tomorrow the prime minister will mention it," he said. \nHe declined to say whether the announcement signaled an imminent attack on the insurgent stronghold Fallujah, saying "We have seen the situation is worsening in this area. Any obstacle will be removed." \nIncreased attacks \nThe statement came as insurgents escalated a wave of violence, attacking police stations, gunning down government officials and setting off bombs yesterday in central Iraq that left more than 50 people dead and more than 60 others injured in two days. \nA few hours later, the Interior Ministry said that a car bomb had exploded near the home of Iraq's finance minister. \nThe wave of violence sweeping the troubled Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad, may be aimed at relieving pressure on Fallujah, where about 10,000 US troops are massing for a major assault if Allawi gives the order. \nAt dawn yesterday, armed rebels launched deadly attacks against police stations in western Anbar Province, leaving 22 people dead, according to police and hospital officials. At least seven of those killed were policemen, who were lined up and shot execution style. \nUsing bombs and small arms fire, insurgents hit three police stations in the neighboring towns of Haditha and Haqlaniyah, 220km northwest of Baghdad, said Captain Nasser Abdullah of the K3 police station in Haqlaniyah. \nAlso yesterday, three Diyala provincial officials were gunned down south of Baghdad as they were on their way to a funeral in Karbala for a fourth colleague assassinated earlier this week. \nGovernor's aide Jassim Mohammed was killed along with Diyala provincial council members, Shihab Ahmed and Dureid Mohammed, an Iraqi official said. \nA series of multiple explosions also echoed in and near Baghdad yesterday. Residents reported grenades setting police cars aflame on Haifa Street in the heart of the city and attacks on US military convoys in western Baghdad. \nAn 11am attack on a convoy west of Baghdad killed one US soldier and wounded another with the 81st Brigade Combat Team, the US command said. Secondary explosions at the scene came from the cargo the convoy was carrying. \nThe US military confirmed a car bomb hit a US convoy west of Baghdad at 11:40pm. No injuries or casualties have been reported yet in that attack. \nEyewitnesses also reported assailants opening fire at a US convoy passing through a tunnel in the Khadhra district in western Baghdad. US troops sealed off the roads leading to the scene. \nMultiple sets of explosions rocked central Baghdad throughout the day. \nMeanwhile, Marines fired a barrage of artillery at rebel positions inside Fallujah early yesterday and clashed with insurgents carrying AK-47s, killing at least 16. \nTwo US soldiers were wounded at midnight at a checkpoint near Fallujah, the US military said. \nUS jets have been pounding the rebel bastion for days, launching its heaviest airstrikes in six months on Saturday -- including five 225kg bombs dropped on insurgent targets. Warplanes destroyed five weapons caches after nightfall Saturday. \nResponsibility \nIn Web postings, the al-Qaida affiliate group of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attacks in Samarra, Ramadi and Baghdad. The claims could not be verified, but US officials believe al-Zarqawi's group uses Fallujah as a base. \nUS intelligence estimates about 3,000 insurgents are dug in behind defenses and booby traps in Fallujah, a city of about 300,000 which has become a symbol throughout the Islamic world of Iraqi resistance to the US-led occupation. \nMilitary planners believe there are about 1,200 hardcore insurgents in Fallujah -- at least half of them Iraqis. They are bolstered by insurgent cells with up to 2,000 fighters in the surrounding towns and countryside. \nThe influential Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars has threatened to call a boycott if Fallujah is attacked. \nIn an open letter to Iraqis posted on Saturday on the Internet, 26 Saudi scholars and religious preachers said that armed resistance against US troops and their Iraqi allies was a "legitimate right, and issued a fatwa, or religious edict, prohibiting Iraqis from offering any support for military operations carried out by US forces.
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
NEW HONG KONG LAW: A visit to Beijing-friendly nations or those with weak judicial systems could leave people at risk of deportation to China, a former MAC official said Beijing could request countries with which it has extradition agreements to deport Taiwanese to China to face criminal charges following the implementation of national security legislation for Hong Kong, a former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official warned yesterday. Some developing countries, and those close to China because of the Belt and Road Initiative, are likely to accommodate Beijing’s requests to extradite Taiwanese to China, said former deputy MAC minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), who served from July 2, 2018, until May 20, and then returned to his former post as an assistant professor of sociology at National Tsing Hua University. While Taiwanese
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
IN THE PIPELINE: The Ministry of National Defense said the sale, expected to take effect in one month, would be the seventh arms sale under the Trump administration The government yesterday thanked the US for approving the possible sale of a US$620 million missile repair and recertification package to Taiwan. The US Department of State has approved the sale of a package to recertify Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington for an estimated US$620 million, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a news release on Thursday. The agency has delivered the required certification to the US Congress, notifying it of the possible sale, it added. The TECRO had requested to buy an upgrade package that would support an operational