Plans were unveiled here to deploy 100,000 Iraqi police and soldiers to stave off a bloodbath on election day, as US President George W. Bush said polls would go on as scheduled on Jan. 30. \nThe deadly violence came as battles between US troops and Iraqi insurgents in the northern city of Mosul killed at least 26, including a US soldier, and 30 people died when a booby-trapped house in Baghdad exploded. \nA dozen Iraqi deaths Thursday brought the three-day toll to well over 100. \nAnd the Iraqi government announced that a senior aide to Iraq's most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose militants are behind many deadly attacks and killings of hostages, had been captured recently in Baghdad. \nOn Wednesday, insurgents detonated car bombs against a US patrol and attacked a combat outpost in Mosul triggering air strikes and clashes that left at least 25 rebels dead, the US military said. \nA US soldier died of wounds suffered in one of the car bombings, the military announced Thursday. \nDespite the volatile situation, Bush insisted elections must go ahead as planned on Jan. 30, even as an Islamic militant group reiterated a threat to sabotage the poll. \nA group linked to al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sunna, which claimed responsibility for last week's attack on US troops in Mosul, said in a statement on its Web site that it would target polling stations. \n"It's very important that these elections proceed," Bush said Wednesday. \nUS and Iraqi officials have said they hope an increase in offensives against insurgents, coupled with airtight security, will allow January 30 voting to go ahead. \nBrigadier General Erv Lessel, the US-led military's deputy director of operations, bluntly listed what he expected of insurgents. \n"They will ... try to disrupt the process by attacking election officials as well as those Iraqi citizens who have volunteered to be candidates and campaign in the political process. There will be attempted attacks against polling places and polling locations." \nAdel Lami, a ranking officer on Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission, said "about 100,000 police and national guard will be mobilized." \nLessel said US forces will ramp up their operations ahead of Jan. 30 to disrupt the insurgency, with its turbulent mix of Saddam Hussein loyalists, criminals, Islamic fundamentalists and renegade tribal factions. \nIn the northern city of Kirkuk, dozens of Kurds protested violence against their community and to demand that regional elections be postponed. \nIraqi voters are to choose a transitional 275-seat National Assembly, a parliament for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and 18 provincial councils. \nMeanwhile, the interim government revealed that a US-led raid in recent weeks netted Fadil Hussein Ahmed al-Kurdi, a 26-year-old Kurd suspected of aiding al-Zarqawi, and two other suspects. \nA statement said Kurdi was also known as Abu Ubaida al-Kurdi or simply Ridha. \nThe government announced on Wednesday the capture of Abu Marwan, a "key leader" of the Zarqawi network in Mosul, on Dec. 23. \nAcross the country, at least 15 Iraqis have been killed in various attacks by insurgents since Wednesday night, Iraqi security officials said. \nThree border policemen were gunned down in Baquba north of Baghdad while on leave, and the son of a local police chief was kidnapped. \nIn the capital, an Iraqi army officer was killed while strolling in the street. \nFour civilians were killed in an ambush at Shorgat, north of the capital, while further north two civilians were killed and four hurt when a bomb exploded near their car as it followed a national guard convoy.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread