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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / June 17, 2008



Despite reports that Saudi Arabia will increase oil production next month to its highest level yet, protests against the surging price of fuel widened Monday around the world. A truckers' association in Colombia was expected to begin a nationwide work stoppage, joining similar actions in France, Spain, India, and South Korea. In Thailand, however, truckers postponed a blockade of Bangkok after the government said it would look for sources of funding to help them meet fuel costs.

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Taliban militants, some of whom may be escapees from prison late last week, have overrun a number of villages in southern Afghanistan, regional authorities reported Monday. They said NATO-led forces were being redeployed to "meet the threat." The developments came as the Pakistani government summoned Afghan Ambassador Mohammad Anwar Anwarzai to protest Sunday's "regrettable" threat by President Hamid Karzai to send his nation's troops across their border to attack Taliban encampments.

Followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern city of Amara will not resist the Iraqi government's new crackdown on militancy, a senior aide pledged Monday. Analysts said his tone differed from the defiance of Sadrist leaders in previous crackdowns, such as in Basra and Baghdad. Plans call for the operation to begin Thursday. Militiamen have been ordered to surrender their heavy weapons beforehand or be arrested.

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