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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / November 12, 2008



With Iraqi flags flying and Shiites and Sunnis embracing each other Tuesday, a bridge between their Baghdad neighborhoods was reopened for the first time in more than three years. The Bridge of the Imams spans the Tigris River but was closed in August 2005 after an estimated 1,000 Shiite pilgrims died in a stampede as rumors spread that a suicide bomber was in their midst. The closure made arduous detours through central Baghdad necessary.

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Military units blocked the highway through the Khyber Pass in northwestern Pakistan and helicopter gunships were en route to the area Tuesday as efforts began to recover a convoy of trucks and Humvees hijacked by Taliban militants. Thirteen vehicles were ferrying supplies for US forces in neighboring Afghanistan when the hijacking occurred Monday. Officials in the area told the BBC that the drivers were taken captive and that the containers in which the supplies were packed were found abandoned and empty.

Meeting behind closed doors, a military court in Burma (Myanmar) sentenced 14 political dissidents to 65 years each in prison Tuesday in a heavy new blow to the nation's democracy movement. All were accused of involvement in last year's protests led by Buddhist monks against increased fuel prices. Reports said lawyers for some of the defendants also were ordered to prison for contempt of court. Burma has been under military rule since 1962, although an election has been scheduled for 2010 under the junta's "road map to democracy."

Prosecutors in Thailand were considering their next move Tuesday in efforts to win the extradition of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin, who has been sentenced in absentia to prison for corruption, was last seen "on vacation" in China after Britain revoked his visa last week. But he denied published reports that he's building a luxury retirement home near Beijing. The Philippines government also said it would not "allow him to come [here] to seek political asylum."

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