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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Briefly

July 8, 2004

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Yemen

Six go on trial in U.S.S. Cole bombing

A security court charged six alleged al-Qaida members Wednesday with plotting the attack on the USS Cole, opening the first trial in the suicide bombing that killed 17 American sailors. Among the defendants is reputed mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Police and soldiers cordoned off the security court in San'a, and marksmen watched from rooftops, as five of the defendants were brought in to hear the judge read their indictment. Al-Nashiri, the sixth defendant, is in U.S. custody.

U.S. officials believe the Saudi-born al-Nashiri is a close associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The attack occurred in October 2000 when two suicide bombers brought a small boat alongside the destroyer as it refueled in Aden harbor. The bombers detonated explosives stashed on the boat, killing themselves and 17 sailors, and blasting a huge hole in the ship's hull.

Hong Kong

Health chief resigns over SARS response

Bowing to pressure over a slow, sloppy response to SARS, Hong Kong's health secretary resigned Wednesday to take blame for the crisis that killed hundreds and caused months of uncertainty and fear in the territory.

Dr. Yeoh Eng-kiong became a rare political casualty in a territory where critics charge that top aides of Hong Kong's leader, Tung Chee-hwa, often avoid being held accountable for problems.

Yeoh ran into trouble this week after a legislative report on Monday blamed him for many failures in the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome. Dozens of relatives of SARS victims gathered outside the legislature Wednesday to call for Yeoh's removal.

At a press conference after his resignation was announced, Yeoh said he had "dedicated all my energies for one single purpose: to stop this deadly disease that had created so much suffering," but it became politically impossible to stay after a legislative investigation found his performance inadequate.

Moscow

TV network silences independent program

The Kremlin loyalist appointed to run Russia's NTV television network this week decided to cancel the talk show "Freedom of Speech" in his first full day on the job, a move that would effectively leave the Russian airwaves without a single independent-minded political program.

On Monday, the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom fired NTV's general director and replaced him with Vladimir Kulistikov, the head of news programming at the state-run Rossiya channel known for fawning nightly news coverage of President Vladimir Putin.

The apparent demise of "Freedom of Speech" would bring to a conclusion what media analysts here have called a long government effort to silence critical voices on the once-outspoken network. Gazprom took over NTV in 2001, causing many of the station's journalists to leave in protest of Kremlin interference.

Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber kills 4

A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber detonated explosives at a police station Wednesday, killing herself and four officers after being detected on a mission to assassinate a top moderate Tamil leader, police said.

Seven people were wounded in the blast that threatens a two-year-old fragile cease-fire between the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam and the Sri Lankan government.

Police stopped the woman as she was trying to get inside the office of Douglas Devananda, a top Tamil leader who is opposed to the Tigers.

As the police awaited the arrival of the Bomb Squad, the women detonated the explosives that were wrapped around her body.

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