New images obtained by spy satellites indicate that Iran has been expanding and reinforcing its nuclear facilities, the US-based Institute for Science and International Security said in an alert to news media over the weekend. It was accompanied by four photos showing the work in question. The ISIS is headed by nuclear expert and former UN weapons inspector David Albright. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times (London) reported that Iran has trained 40,000 "suicide bombers" whose mission will be to attack "sensitive" US, British, and Israeli targets in the event of any type of military assault on its nuclear facilities. Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "rotten, dried tree" that will be annihilated in "one storm."
Iran also stepped in to try to ease the plight of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, announcing a donation of $50 million to fill some of the gap left by the cutoff of Western aid. The word came as Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet after armed and masked policemen staged a violent protest to demand their pay, which already was two weeks late. Haniyeh also appealed again to the rival Fatah faction to join his government.
Taliban attackers took heavy casualties in a weekend of clashes with coalition forces and police in volatile southern Afghanistan. In separate assaults on a suspected Taliban hideout and at checkpoints guarding the main highway between Kabul, the capital, and Kandahar and Zabul provinces, 58 Taliban were killed, versus a reported six policemen. No American or Afghan soldiers were killed, the reports said. Residents of the area where the heaviest fighting took place said they had repeatedly appealed for the militants to leave before the violence. US, British, and Afghan forces last week began Operation Mountain Lion, the largest anti-Taliban offensive since the radical Muslim group was driven from power five years ago.
Angry Christians complained of inadequate protection by Egyptian security police after a weekend of violence that began with stabbings in three Coptic churches in the city of Alexandria Friday. A would-be attacker was prevented from entering a fourth church. One Christian died of his wounds and another was hospitalized with major injuries. At the dead man's funeral Saturday, more trouble erupted as Muslims and Christians fought, leading to 15 additional casualties and 15 arrests. The violence spilled over into Sunday, with police using tear gas and live ammunition to try to break up the rioting.
A remote-controlled mine exploded in northeastern Sri Lanka Sunday in an attack blamed on suspected Tamil separatist rebels. Two more government soldiers were hurt, in addition to the eight who died and six others who were wounded Saturday in similar incidents. Meanwhile, the mediators who'd arranged new peace talks this week between the rebels and the government expressed frustration at the former's announcement that they were pulling out. The rebels complained at the presence of Navy vessels near where they were to meet with their field commanders prior to the talks and said, "In the present situation, there is no possibility" of participating. The mediators called that position "ridiculous" and insisted that the rebels had agreed to the presence of the ships.
Antigovernment protests spread to the section of Nepal's capital that is most popular with tourists as a general strike aimed at forcing a return to democracy entered its 12th day. Kathmandu was experiencing shortages of fresh food, cooking fuel, and gasoline. Police, who had not interfered with protest marches late last week on the ring road outside the city, moved in Sunday, firing rubber bullets and beating demonstrators with batons. Meanwhile, about 20 more journalists were arrested in addition to the 12 who were detained Saturday in a demonstration for freedom of the press.