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Protest against Prophet’s cartoons
4 die in Afghanistan

Qalat (Afghanistan), February 8
Four persons were killed today as police opened fire to control stone-throwing rioters in Afghanistan during the fifth day of protests against cartoons of the Prophet.

In video: Talk of protest in Pakistan. (28k, 56k)


Afghan protesters burn the Danish flag during a protest in Kabul on Wednesday. — AFP photo
Afghan protesters burn the Danish flag during a protest in Kabul on Wednesday.

French weekly’s show of freedom
Paris, February 8
A French satirical weekly reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad today and published one of its own on its front page, further angering Muslim groups, which say the caricatures are blasphemous.

Killed Indian identified
New Delhi, February 8
The Indian national killed in a bomb attack by Taliban in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah yesterday has been identified as Bharat Kumar, an engineer working with a Turkish company.


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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Kalam pitches for joint ventures with S. Korea
Seoul, February 8
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today pitched for a joint technology partnership between India and South Korea for civilian products, contending that this would create a win-win scenario for both countries.
In video: (28k, 56k)

Low turnout in Nepal civic poll
Kathmandu, February 8
Kathmandu, Feb 8 (PTI) Touted by King Gyanendra as the first step back to democracy after he assumed power, Nepal today went for municipal elections amid tight security but the turnout appeared to be poor even as Maoist rebels killed two persons, kidnapped 10 government officials in the east and burnt buildings.

Cuba invites Musharraf to NAM meet
Islamabad, February 8
Cuban President Fidel Castro has invited Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to an upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to be held in Cuba in September.

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Protest against Prophet’s cartoons
4 die in Afghanistan

Qalat (Afghanistan), February 8
Four persons were killed today as police opened fire to control stone-throwing rioters in Afghanistan during the fifth day of protests against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the army said.

A number of people were also wounded in the protests in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, including the city’s police chief, said Afghan National Army brigade commander in Zabul Abdul Razaq.

“Four protesters have died and eleven wounded. One national army soldier is also seriously wounded. A number of police personnel are among the wounded,” he said.

A provincial official said the police had opened fire to control a crowd of around 400 demonstrators.

These deaths bring to 11 the number of Afghans killed in riots against the publication of cartoons of the prophet. Four died yesterday and three were killed on Monday.

Hebron (West Bank): Hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at the headquarters of international observers in the occupied West Bank today in protest against cartoons in European newspapers depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Palestinian police fired in the air to try to disperse the crowd, which smashed the windows of two buildings in a complex used by the observers in the city of Hebron.

UN, EU, Pan-Islamic urge restraint

United Nations: The United Nations, European Union and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have expressed alarm over worldwide Muslim fury against Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and urged restraint and dialogue.

“We are deeply alarmed at the repercussions of the publication in Denmark several months ago of insulting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and their subsequent republication by some other European newspapers, and at the violent acts that have occurred in reaction to them,” representatives of the three organisations said in a joint statement yesterday. — AFP, Reuters

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French weekly’s show of freedom

Paris, February 8
A French satirical weekly reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad today and published one of its own on its front page, further angering Muslim groups, which say the caricatures are blasphemous.

French Muslim organisations tried to prevent the weekly, Charlie-Hebdo, from reprinting the 12 cartoons, which were first published by the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, but a court rejected their suit yesterday on a technicality.

The weekly’s front page carried the new cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammad burying his face in his hands and saying that: “It’s hard to be loved by fools”.

Inside pages showed the 12 cartoons that were first printed in Denmark and included an editorial explaining the decision to reprint them.

“When extremists extract concessions from democracies on points of principle, either by blackmail or terror, democracies do not have long left,” Charlie-Hebdo editor Philippe Val wrote in the editorial.

Charlie-Hebdo also published other cartoons on its back page which caricatured other religions, including Christianity and Judaism.

Sources at Charlie-Hebdo said some staff had been placed under police protection.

Two police officers were on guard in front of the weekly’s offices in the centre of Paris today. “We would have hoped for there to be a willingness to calm things down,” said Fouad Alaoui of the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF). — Reuters

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Killed Indian identified

New Delhi, February 8
The Indian national killed in a bomb attack by Taliban in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah yesterday has been identified as Bharat Kumar, an engineer working with a Turkish company.

He is the second Indian to be killed in terror violence by Taliban after BRO jawan M.R. Kutty in the war-torn country in the last two months.

Bharat Kumar was among four killed in a bomb blast for which Taliban has claimed responsibility. — PTI

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Kalam pitches for joint ventures with S. Korea

Seoul, February 8
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today pitched for a joint technology partnership between India and South Korea for civilian products, contending that this would create a win-win scenario for both countries.

On the last day of his three-day visit to South Korea, the first by an Indian President, Mr Kalam addressed South Korean Parliament and visited world consumer electronic giant Samsung’s factory and a scientific institute at Daedock Innopolis, the country’s science and technology hub at Daejeon, 150 km from here. He spoke of greater trade and science and technology collaboration between the two sides.

Mr Kalam was given a presentation by Korean steel major Pohang Steel Corporation (POSCO) later in the evening on their activities, including the $12-billion dollar investment they would make in a plant in Orissa.

Addressing members of Korean National Assembly, the President said India and South Korea could emulate the Indo-Russia defence venture by designing and developing products for civilian application both in national and international markets.

Kalam also proposed e-business network between India and South Korea, leading to increased information sharing, education programmes and knowledge connectivity among countries of the region.

Later, he visited Daedeok Innopolis, the hub of South Korea’s science and technology, Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology, where he interacted with the scientists and employees. There are 50 Indian scientists and engineers working at the institute.

Korean scientists from the country’s Aero Science and Research Institute briefed Mr Kalam about their plans to develop 10 satellites and also about production of an experimental aircraft.

The President evinced keen interest in space and stem cell research in South Korea.

Back in Seoul, he interacted with Indian nationals in South Korea and had a separate interface with their children.

He would returns to India tomorrow evening. — PTI

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Low turnout in Nepal civic poll
Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, February 8
Kathmandu, Feb 8 (PTI) Touted by King Gyanendra as the first step back to democracy after he assumed power, Nepal today went for municipal elections amid tight security but the turnout appeared to be poor even as Maoist rebels killed two persons, kidnapped 10 government officials in the east and burnt buildings.

Hours before the elections began, rebels launched a major assault on the eastern town of Dhankuta and bombed at least 12 government buildings and destroyed the local bank, the police said, adding that they killed one policeman and one civilian and took 10 officials captive, including a deputy-chief regional administrator.

There were reports of firing in Biratnagar Municipality this morning as soon as voting began. Maoists opened fire at the security personnel manning the Ward No. 15 of the municipality but there were no reports of casualties, police said.

The Army opened fire on an anti-poll demonstration killing one person and injuring another even as authorities arrested over 150 political activists from various parts of the country.

Very low turnout of voters was witnessed during the polling conducted in 36 municipalities across Nepal.

The voting started at 8 am but even after hours had passed only 10 per cent of the total 1.48 million voters cast their ballots, a private radio said quoting Election Commission officials.

A series of bomb explosions by Maoists to disrupt the polling, the first in seven years, were reported from Dhangadi, Tikapur and Mahendranagar municipalities in west Nepal.

A civilian was killed and another injured when the army opened fire at anti-poll demonstrators in Dang, party sources said. The peaceful demonstration was launched by the seven-party alliance urging people to boycott the elections.

The army was authorised to shoot, if necessary, in case of political parties disrupting the poll. — PTI

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Cuba invites Musharraf to NAM meet

Islamabad, February 8
Cuban President Fidel Castro has invited Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to an upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to be held in Cuba in September.

The invitation came as Islamabad embarked on a new policy to expand ties with Cuba, which extended “whole hearted” support to Pakistan by establishing 32 field hospitals in quake-ravaged areas.

Cuban Foreign Minister held separate meetings with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri.

President Musharraf, thanking Mr Castro, underscored Pakistan’s commitment to work with the NAM members to make it a dynamic movement capable of facing the challenges of the 21st century.

However, it is not yet confirmed whether the Pakistan President will attend the summit. — UNI

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