With song-and-dance performances (one of them above) and a "fun run" around Beijing by thousands of people, China started the 100-day countdown to the Olympic Summer Games. Beijing has spent almost $40 million on infrastructure improvements for the Games. But ominously, the festivities took place in a pall of smog, which Olympics officials have said could cause postponement of some outdoor events if it persists into August.Skip to next paragraph
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Suspected Taliban militants blew up their own hideout in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday rather than surrender to government forces. Seven people died in the explosion, two of them civilians. The militants reportedly were linked to last Sunday's failed assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai. In southern Helmand Province, newly deployed US marines were solidifying their hold on a key town seized from Taliban fighters. Garmsir had been assaulted numerous times before by coalition forces but had withstood capture.
Senior government officials in Georgia appealed to the Kremlin not to provoke a full-blown conflict, saying the latter's announced plan to reinforce troops in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia "worries us very much." Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the reinforcements were necessary because Georgian forces were planning to attack. NATO conceded that Russia was "technically entitled" to the buildup but said the situation "is raising tensions."
Two battalions of peacekeepers will join the African Union (AU) mission in Darfur in June, its chief said Wednesday. Rodolhe Adada told journalists the troops will come from Ethiopia and Egypt. Four months into its mission, the AU force in the lawless region is only at one-third of its planned strength and has struggled to prevent further violence that impairs the world's largest humanitarian relief operation.