Government critics released
Four prominent critics of the Cambodian government who had been arrested on defamation charges filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen were released on bail yesterday from a Phnom Penh prison. Their release followed a request from the prime minister, whose government has recently been condemned by human rights groups and other parties for jailing the men for exercising their freedom of expression. Hun Sen has sued them and several others for criticizing him about a border demarcation pact he signed with Vietnam in October.
Seven killed as talks start
Suspected Muslim militants shot dead two members of a pro-India communist party in revolt-hit Kashmir, while Indian troops killed five rebels in two separate gunbattles, police and the army said yesterday. The violence came as the top foreign ministry officials from India and Pakistan met in New Delhi for a third round of talks on their vexed dispute over Kashmir. The neighbors each hold Kashmir in part but claim it in full. Police said Gulzar Ahmed and Bashir Reshi, two functionaries of the Communist Party of India, were gunned down in separate incidents in the Kulgam area of the southern district of Anantnag late on Monday.
US jet crash sparks criticism
A US fighter jet crashed into the ocean yesterday near the southern Japanese island chain of Okinawa, not causing injuries but prompting fresh criticism of the US military by local authorities. The F-15 Eagle fell into the sea 88km northeast of Okinawa's Kadena Air Base but the pilot ejected safely and was recovered by a search and rescue team, US military spokesman Master Sergeant Terence Peck said. The mayor of the base town called on the US military to be more careful. "We have made requests to the US military in the past but nonetheless our worries became true," Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi said, as quoted by Jiji Press news agency.
Emergency powers extended
Thailand's government said yesterday it will extend a state of emergency in its Muslim insurgency-hit south, and will exhume 300 bodies there to investigate alleged summary killings and whether any of the victims were foreigners. The state of emergency will be extended in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces for three months as violence continues, government spokesman Suraphong Suebwonglee said. Emergency rule lets the government impose curfews, prohibit public gatherings, censor and ban publications, detain suspects without charge, confiscate property and tap telephones.
Thai Muslims repatriated
Malaysia has deported all the 131 Thai Muslims who fled their homeland last year to escape rising violence in Thailand's troubled south, state news agency Bernama said on yesterday. The group, which had been in Malaysian custody since last August, was the largest to have fled to Malaysia from southern Thailand, where more than 1,000 people have been killed in two years of separatist unrest. "No more issues. All have been sent back. Both sides are very happy," the news agency quoted Malaysia's law minister, Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, as telling reporters. The repatriation came as a surprise to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which had interviewed the Thais while in detention.
■ United Kingdom
Parrot blamed for split
A parrot is being blamed for the the break-up of a relationship after squawking the name of the woman's secret lover, newspapers reported yesterday. Ziggy, an eight-year-old African grey, prompted a confession from Suzy Collins, when she was snuggled up on the sofa with her boyfriend. "We were watching TV when Ziggy blurted out, `I love you, Gary.' I started laughing but when I looked at Suzy, I could tell something was up. Her face was red and she started to cry," said Chris Taylor, from Leeds, northern England. "She told me that she'd been seeing someone called Gary and that she wanted to finish with me." Taylor has now given away Ziggy. "I couldn't get him to stop saying that bloody name ... what else could I do?" he said.