A suicide driver detonated a car bomb at a guard post outside the Iraqi prime minister's party headquarters in Baghdad yesterday, injuring at least 10 people. The al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq claimed responsibility a day after its leader declared all-out war on democracy. \nMortar rounds slammed into an Iraqi National Guard camp near Baghdad International Airport yesterday, as the rumble of distant explosions reverberated through the capital. There was no report of casualties in the mortar attack. \nThe suicide bomber struck at a police checkpoint on the road leading to Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord offices, shaking the city center with a thunderous explosion. Splintered police vehicles were engulfed in flames, and gunfire rattled after the explosion. \nAmong the wounded were eight policemen and two civilians, said Dr. Mudhar Abdul-Hussein of Yarmouk Hospital. \nAl-Qaeda's wing in Iraq said in a Web posting that "one of the young lions in the suicide regiment" carried out the attack against the party office of Allawi, "the agent of the Jews and the Christians." \nThe attacks occurred six days before Iraq's crucial national elections, the first since the fall of former president Saddam Hussein in 2003. Insurgents have condemned the elections and vowed to disrupt them. \nIn an audiotape posted Sunday on the Web, a speaker claiming to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, declared "fierce war" on democracy and said anyone who takes part in next weekend's elections would be considered "an infidel." \n"We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," the speaker said. "Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it." \nThe speaker warned Iraqis to be careful of "the enemy's plan to implement so-called democracy in your country." He said the Americans have engineered the election to install Shiite Muslims in power. \nAl-Zarqawi, who is a Sunni Arab like most of the insurgents here, has in the past branded Shiites as heretics. \nThe US has offered a US$25 million reward for al-Zarqawi's capture or death -- the same amount as for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. \nDuring weekend appearances on US television, the US ambassador to Iraq acknowledged there were serious security problems ahead of this weekend's landmark ballot, in which Iraqis will choose a national legislature that will run the country and draft a permanent constitution. Legislatures in 18 provinces and a regional parliament in the Kurdish-run areas of the north will also be elected. \nUS and Iraqi officials have warned they expect rebels to unleash bloodshed and mayhem to keep voters from the polls.
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Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
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Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo