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Pak orders culling of chickens
Islamabad, February 27
Pakistan today ordered culling of chickens and quarantined some farms in the North West Frontier Province, following detection of a low pathogenic strain of bird flu virus which does not affect human beings.

Nation page: More labs for testing bird flu cases

Malaysia to jail owners hiding poultry
Kuala Lumpur, February 27
Poultry owners hiding birds or fowl from authorities in a bird flu-hit area face a maximum six-month jail term and a 500 ringgit fine, a news report said today.

Train attacked in Pakistan
Quetta, February 27
Gunmen opened fire with assault rifles on a passenger train in southwestern Pakistan, sparking a gunbattle with security forces. There were no immediate reports of injury.

5 killed in Riyadh shootout
Dubai, February 27
Saudi security forces have killed five men, suspected of involvement in a bid to blow up the world's largest oil-processing plant, during an armed clash in a Riyadh suburb today.



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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets a supporter after a news conference in Bangkok
Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (left) greets a supporter after a news conference in Bangkok on Monday. Thaksin agreed to meet Thailand's three Opposition parties to answer their calls for constitutional changes in exchange for their participation in snap elections on April 2.
— Reuters

Saddam ends hunger strike
Amman, February 27
Toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ended on health grounds, a hunger strike he began earlier this month to protest against the conduct of his trial, his chief lawyer said today.

Taliban spokesman joins Yale
Washington, February 27
The university of Yale has a freshman who is thankful to have landed up in the prestigious institution rather than the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Egypt discovers statues of
Ramses II

Cairo, February 27
Statues weighing up to five tonnes and thought to be of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Ramses II, have been found northeast of Cairo, Egypt's Supreme Antiquities Council said.
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Pak orders culling of chickens

Islamabad, February 27
Pakistan today ordered culling of chickens and quarantined some farms in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), following detection of a low pathogenic strain of bird flu virus which does not affect human beings.

Initial tests had confirmed the presence of H5 virus which did not affect human beings, Pakistan Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Dr Afzal Ahmad said.

The tests were carried out yesterday after several chickens were found dead in farms in Abtabad and Charsadha in NWFP.

The virus of the H5 strain was less pathogenic than the H5N1 which could spread to human beings, Ahmad said, adding there was no confirmation yet about bird flu cases.

However, the samples have been sent for testing to Britain and results were expected by the weekend, he said.

As a precautionary measure, owners of the two chicken farms had been advised to cull their birds. News of the detection of H5 virus came as some local newspapers reported several chickens found dead in the farms in Abtabad and Charsadha.— PTI

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Malaysia to jail owners hiding poultry

Kuala Lumpur, February 27
Poultry owners hiding birds or fowl from authorities in a bird flu-hit area face a maximum six-month jail term and a 500 ringgit fine, a news report said today.

Residents in four hamlets in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Gombak - where 40 chickens died more than a week ago from H5N1 infections - are required by law to hand over their pets and poultry, the New Straits Times reported quoting Mr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin, the Veterinary Services Department Deputy Director General.

Mr Abdul Aziz said although veterinary officials had culled more than 3,000 birds - mostly chickens - within a 1-kilometre (0.6 mile) radius of the four villages, so far they had not faced any resistance.

He said authorities would not hesitate to invoke the law if necessary.

"Our focus is to locate the fighting cocks believed to be hidden by Indonesian workers in their (living) quarters," he was quoted as saying.

The four villages were slum-like areas or squatter settlements of foreign nationals, the government has said.

Authorities were still scrambling to clear the zone of all chickens, ducks and birds that have escaped the cull.

Mr Abdul Aziz said "superchickens," wily free-range chickens roosting on tree tops and hiding in bushes, had escaped his department's officers, who used a variety of methods, including shooting darts from blowpipes.

He said officers would begin checks at daybreak to catch crowing roosters and other hiding fowl who may give away their position then. — AP

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Train attacked in Pakistan

Quetta, February 27
Gunmen opened fire with assault rifles on a passenger train in southwestern Pakistan, sparking a gunbattle with security forces. There were no immediate reports of injury.

Bullets hit the train but did not hit any of the persons inside, as it passed through the mountainous area of Aab-e-Gom, about 80 km southeast of Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province.

Renegade tribesmen have been blamed for small-scale bombings on railroads and rocket attacks on security forces in Baluchistan, a vast and impoverished province.

Tribesmen are accused of launching the attacks to press demands for increase in royalty for resources, such as natural gas, extracted in their territories.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting on the train. — AP

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5 killed in Riyadh shootout

Dubai, February 27
Saudi security forces have killed five men, suspected of involvement in a bid to blow up the world's largest oil-processing plant, during an armed clash in a Riyadh suburb today.

"The clashes in Riyadh have finished and all the suspects, who were barricaded in a house in the east of Riyadh, have been killed," a Dubai-based channel, Al-Arabiya reported.

A large quantity of arms were seized from their hideout which had earlier been besieged by security forces amid a fierce firefight.

One source said the men were traced partly through Internet surveillance. An Internet statement was issued at the weekend claiming that Al Qaida was behind an attack on the world's largest oil processing plant in Abqaiq on Friday.

The attempt to storm the site in east Saudi Arabia near the Gulf coast was the first direct strike on a Saudi energy target since the militant group launched attacks aimed at toppling the US-allied monarchy in 2003.

It was also the first major attack by militants opposed to the Saudi monarchy since suicide bombers tried to storm the Interior Ministry in Riyadh in December 2004.

Authorities say two of the bombers were on a list of top wanted Al Qaida-linked Islamic militants issued last year. Al Qaida had previously identified them in an Internet statement posted on Saturday and vowed more attacks. — AFP

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Saddam ends hunger strike

Amman, February 27
Toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ended on health grounds, a hunger strike he began earlier this month to protest against the conduct of his trial, his chief lawyer said today.

''The president maintained his hunger strike for 11 days but was forced to end it for health reasons,'' said Khalil Dulaimi, who met Saddam for seven hours in Baghdad yesterday.

Saddam, on trial since last October for crimes against humanity, threw already chaotic proceedings into more turmoil on February 14, by saying he and seven co-accused had been staging a hunger strike for the past three days.

The former president, who accused the court of forcing him to attend hearings that he wished to boycott, said at the time that the fast was “to protest the way they brought us to court”.

Dulaimi said US prison officials overseeing Saddam's custody intervened with defence lawyers to end his strike to ''prevent any adverse health impact''. He said the former leader had lost some weight but gave no details. — Reuters

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Taliban spokesman joins Yale

Washington, February 27
The university of Yale has a freshman who is thankful to have landed up in the prestigious institution rather than the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former Taliban spokesperson, who has the dubious distinction of having come in contact with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden has joined a non-degree course, which includes a class on terrorism.

The reading list of Hashemi — once a featured speaker and a "roving ambassador" from Afghanistan — has changed drastically from the Holy Quran and Persian poems to English, 'Reading and Writing Argument' and 'Introduction to Political Philosophy', ever since he joined the university in July, at the start of the summer term.

Turned away initially from a Taliban office in Kandahar, Hashemi had offered his skills as a computer operator because of his high proficiency in English, the New York Times quoted the freshman as saying.

But later, adding a couple of years to his age, he was accepted and became a part of the hardline Islamic regime that also brought him in contact with 9/11 mastermind Laden.

"I saw bin Laden after he was brought to Kandahar in 1997," Rahmatullah told the Times. — PTI

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Egypt discovers statues of Ramses II

Cairo, February 27
Statues weighing up to five tonnes and thought to be of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Ramses II, have been found northeast of Cairo, Egypt's Supreme Antiquities Council said.

Ramses II ruled Egypt from 1304 to 1237 BC and presided over an era of great military expansion, erecting statues and temples to himself all over Egypt. He is traditionally believed to be the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of Moses.

A royal head weighing two to three tonnes and a seated 5.1 metre (16.7 feet) statue were also found, with cartouches, or royal name signs, of Ramses II on the side of the seated statue.

The discoveries were made at a sun temple, northeast of Cairo in ancient Heliopolis, a region known in ancient times for sun worship and where the council says a calendar based on the solar year was invented. — Reuters

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