Dozens of people were arrested in Tibet, and soldiers and police poured into adjacent provinces of China Thursday as antigovernment rioting spread. At an unusually tense news conference, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "I assure you our government is fully capable of maintaining social stability." He refused to detail evidence that the Dalai Lama was behind the protests. For his part, the exiled Buddhist leader said he was willing to meet with senior Chinese officials, but not in Beijing unless there was "a real concrete development" on Tibet.Skip to next paragraph
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A one-year extension of the UN's political mission in Afghanistan was approved unanimously Thursday by the Security Council. The mission works to build support throughout the war-torn country for the government, particularly in its confrontation with a resurgent Taliban. The vote came as Vice President Cheney paid an unannnounced visit to Afghanistan, telling President Hamid Karzai that the US will press its NATO partners to send more troops in addition to the 43,000 already there. "All free nations have an interest in a secure, democratic Afghanistan," Cheney said.
A new audiotape, purportedly from Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, warns of "severe" punishment for European Union members because of the republication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. The tape, posted Wednesday on an Islamist website, also accuses Pope Benedict XVI of "playing a large, lengthy role" in a "new Crusade" against Muslims. The tape appeared timed for the anniversary of Muhammad's birth, as observed by Sunni Muslims, the BBC reported..
Nine people were shot to death and three others were wounded in a firefight between security police and militants in Chechnya, Russia's Novosti news service reported Thurs-day. A local government headquarters also was destroyed in the clash, one of the worst in the volatile republic in years, Novosti said.