Taliban militants are "fleeing to their sanctuaries ... in another country," the NATO commander in Afghanistan said Monday, amid reports that more than 100 had died in combat operations last week. If accurate, those losses would be the heaviest in Taliban ranks in many months. Reinforced by US Marines, NATO and Afghan forces have been pushing into militant strongholds in southern Helmand Province. Their commander, Gen. Dan McNeill, did not cite any other country by name, but the only nation with which Helmand shares a border is Pakistan.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A powerful car bomb exploded outside Denmark's embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, killing at least six people, wounding dozens more, and causing heavy property damage. Suspicion quickly fell on Al Qaeda, whose No. 2 leader had called for attacks on Danish targets after newspapers in Denmark reprinted cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that Muslims find offensive. In Copenhagen, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the attack would not result in any change to "the foreign and security policy we have been leading."
Investors dumped more stocks in Thailand Monday, extending a market slump that began last week over worries that the armed forces might seize power again, despite its assurances to the contrary. The Bangkok bourse lost another 2.8 percent after falling 4.8 percent last week. Opposition protesters clogged Bangkok's streets for the eighth straight day, calling Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej a "puppet" of his predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra, and demanding that he resign.
Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of Macedonia claimed a landslide victory in Sunday's election for a new parliament. But international monitors faulted the voting in ethnic-Albanian areas for "failure to prevent violent acts and the limited ... enforcement of laws." The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it would watch the rerun of voting in those areas even more closely. Gruevski said victory gave Macedonia "the energy for progress to join NATO and the European Union."
King Gyanendra of Nepal said Monday he'll vacate the royal palace next week and is "eager" to live as an ordinary citizen. But despite the end of the 239-year monarchy, Nepal's future appeared far from settled. The former communist rebels, who won the April election for a constituent assembly that will rewrite the Constitution, have demanded the posts of president and prime minister. A leader of the Congress Party, which finished second in the voting, said, however, "They can't have both at the same time."
In another setback for leftist President Evo Morales, voters in two more Bolivian states overwhelmingly approved ballot initiatives on autonomy. Although many Morales supporters heeded his appeal to boycott the polls Sunday, the measures attracted an 81 percent "yes" vote in Pando and 80 percent in Beni, according to early reports. Morales has vowed to ignore the results.
Exiled human rights activist Khin Ohmar was awarded the Anna Lindh Prize Monday for her work to restore democracy to Burma (Myanmar). From her base in neighboring Thailand, she coordinates a network of "people's organizations" that generates weekly reports on the situation in Burma. The prize is named in memory of Sweden's foreign minister, who was murdered in 2003.
Yves Saint Laurent, who died late Sunday, was remembered both as an innovator and the last in a generation of designers who made Paris the fashion capital of the world. He rose to head the House of Dior while still in his early 20s, popularizing ready-to-wear clothes such as pantsuits, turtleneck sweaters, and leather jackets for young women's changing roles in society. He retired in 2002.