World

NATO and Afghan forces claimed another success Monday after a battle with Taliban militants in Helmand Province. Twenty-five Taliban were killed, among them a "group commander," the Defense Ministry said. The clash resulted from an ambush attempt against a coalition patrol. According to an Associated Press tally, more than 1,600 people have died in Taliban-related violence so far this year, most of them militants.

Police in eastern India found and removed four bombs hidden aboard a passenger train that carries pilgrims daily to a Hindu shrine Monday. The discovery followed a weekend of violence in the religiously divided city of Hyderabad in which at least 16 Muslims were killed. A coalition of Islamic groups warned Monday of a violent backlash "if innocent Muslims are arrested in the name of an investigation."

Radical Islamic students in Pakistan's capital seized three more policemen Monday in their growing confrontation with the government over the release of classmates being held prisoner. The situation is seen as an effort by authorities to divert attention from President Pervez Musharraf's woes, chiefly the controversy over his suspension of the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Shipments of food aid for 1 million people in Somalia were suspended by the UN Monday after an attack by pirates over the weekend against a chartered cargo ship that killed a crew member. The BBC reported that agents for a shipping company under contract to the World Food Program refused to permit further sailings to Somalia without armed escorts. At least five ships have 'been boarded by pirates in waters off the troubled country since late last year.

There is "huge potential" for the "strategic partnership" between Iran and Belarus, their presidents said after talks in the latter's capital, Minsk. The visit by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the latest attempt by Alexander Lukashenko to court vehement opponents of the West in general and especially the US. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted Monday as saying his nation leads in the "confrontation of nations against the arrogant system" of the US.

On orders from President Vladimir Putin, Russia's Union of Journalists is to be evicted from its Moscow headquarters, but intends to defy the move, the BBC reported. It said plans call for a state-run satellite TV station to take over the space. The order comes as the union prepares to play host to hundreds of delegates from the International Federation of Journalists next week. In a related development, opposition leader Garry Kasparov vowed to "move forward" with a planned June 9 pro-democracy march in St. Petersburg, despite the prospect of another confrontation with police. The protest is timed to coincide with an international investors' conference aimed at highlighting economic progress under Putin.

Furious villagers rioted in southwestern China over heavy fines levied against families with more children than government policy permits, reports said Monday. At its height, according to witnesses, as many as 10,000 people were involved in the violence. The protesters complained that the fines of more than $1,300 were greater than they could pay on average annual incomes of about $130. The rioting was the latest in a growing number of confrontations that the government calls "mass incidents."

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