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Archive for Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Briefly

July 6, 2005

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India

Six attackers slain at Hindu shrine

Six men thought to be Islamic militants stormed a disputed temple complex that is the main flashpoint for Hindu-Muslim tensions in India Tuesday, triggering a gun battle with police in which five of the attackers died, authorities said. The sixth man apparently blew himself up.

The attack on the temple complex in the town of Ayodhya about 345 miles east of New Delhi sparked fears of communal violence of the sort that occurred after militant Hindus destroyed a mosque on the same site 13 years ago, triggering riots that left more than 2,000 people dead.

Security forces around the nation were placed on alert after Tuesday's attack.

Authorities said that Tuesday's incident in the state of Uttar Pradesh began around 9:15 a.m., when five of the attackers drove up to the site in a car. Another man detonated explosives inside a jeep, killing himself and opening a hole in the iron fence that surrounds the 80-acre complex. The five others then entered through the breach and began firing at police, authorities said.

Kazakhstan

Alliance wants deadline for U.S. military pullout

A regional alliance led by China and Russia called Tuesday for the U.S. and its coalition allies in Afghanistan to set a date for withdrawing from several states in Central Asia, reflecting growing unease at America's military presence in the region.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, urged a deadline be set for withdrawal of the foreign forces from its member states in light of what it said was a decline in active fighting in Afghanistan.

The alliance's move appeared to be an attempt to push the United States out of a region that Moscow regards as historically part of its sphere of influence and in which China seeks a dominant role because of its extensive energy resources.

U.S-led military forces have been deployed at air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan since 9-11 to back up the anti-terrorist campaign in neighboring Afghanistan.

Tokyo

Reform would create world's largest bank

Japan's lower house of parliament narrowly approved legislation to create the world's largest bank - surpassing both America's Citigroup Inc. and a Japanese contender expected to briefly hold the title after a merger.

The source of this great wealth? The country's post offices.

The bank will emerge from the privatization of Japan's sprawling postal service, which offers savings accounts popular with a population that loves to save. State-run Japan Post controls $3 trillion in savings and insurance deposits. Under the legislation, it would be privatized by 2017, after a series of intermittent reforms.

Proponents say privatization would make more efficient use of those funds for investment.

The close 233-228 vote, which reflected deep divisions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was a bittersweet victory for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who had made the reform the centerpiece of his government since winning re-election last year.

Passage by the lower house sends the bills to the upper house. But even rejection by the upper house would not block the legislation, since the lower house can override that with a second vote.

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