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Mujahir named Zarqawi’s successor
Al-Qaida in Iraq has named a successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi days after he was killed in a US airstrike and President George W. Bush on Monday warned that the new terrorist leader would face a similar fate.

Hindu temple in Lahore demolished
Islamabad, June 13
The only Hindu temple in Lahore has been demolished to pave the way for the construction of a multi-storied commercial building.

Dipesh Shah quits as UK atomic energy chief
THE chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is to step down following speculation that he wanted to lead a management buyout and rumours of clashes with the organisation's chairman. Dipesh Shah announced yesterday that he would not seek an extension to his contract, when the current three-year term as chief executive of UKAEA expires in the autumn.

Yoga studios crop up across Washington
Washington, June 13
Yoga, the stretching exercise for fitness, is fast catching up here with several real-estate developers seeking to build its studios, along with retail and office space.



EARLIER STORIES



Police officers baton charge opposition activists during a general strike in Dhaka
Police officers baton charge opposition activists during a general strike in Dhaka on Tuesday. — AP/PTI

8 Palestinians killed in Israeli raid
Jerusalem, June 13
Two Palestinian militants and seven civilians, including two children, were killed today in an air raid carried out by Israeli forces in northern Gaza strip, the deadliest such strike this year.

Nepal releases 200 Maoists
Kathmandu, June 13
A day after scrapping the anti-terror law imposed by King Gyanendra, Nepal government today released 200 Maoists from various jails, paving the way for the first-ever direct talks between their leader Prachanda and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala expected soon.


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US troops in Afghanistan cheer their World Cup team on.
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Mujahir named Zarqawi’s successor
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Al-Qaida in Iraq has named a successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi days after he was killed in a US airstrike and President George W. Bush on Monday warned that the new terrorist leader would face a similar fate.

The group named Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir to lead its outfit in Iraq. Speaking at Camp David, the presidential retreat located outside Washington, Mr Bush told reporters Al-Muhajir ‘‘is going to be on our list to bring to justice.’’

Not much is known about Sheikh al-Muhajir. Analysts say the name al-Muhajir, Arabic for immigrant, suggests he is not an Iraqi.

Dr Louay Bahry, an adjunct scholar at the Middle-East Institute in Washington, told The Tribune that Al-Muhajir was behind the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. The attack killed scores, including the head of the UN mission in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Dr Bahry also linked Al-Muhajir to the deaths of Americans in Jordan and the deadly bombing of three foreign-owned hotels in Amman in November last year. At least 56 persons were killed and about 100 were injured in those attacks. ‘‘He has a history of violence,’’ said Dr Bahry.

The Washington Post reported an al-Qaida in Iraq official, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Jihad, as describing Al-Muhajir as the fourth highest-ranking member of Al-Qaida in Iraq and someone who oversees the religious court that sentences those captured by the organisation.

A statement from Al-Qaida in Iraq described Al-Muhajir as ‘‘a good brother, who has a history in jihad (holy war) and is knowledgeable… We ask God that he...continue what Sheikh Abu Musab began.’’

Dr Bahry said it was probably too soon to know if Al-Muhajir would carry on Al-Zarqawi's terror tactics — the gruesome hallmarks of which were beheadings of kidnapped victims. ‘‘The remnants of Al-Qaida in Iraq will need some time to reorganise. The question is will they be able to return to the same level of ruthlessness and brutality which they were at under Zarqawi,’’ he said.

Al-Zarqawi's death is a big loss, Dr Bahry noted, adding, ‘‘It is not a small thing. It will not be easy for them.’’

Meanwhile, Maj-Gen William B. Caldwell IV, the senior American spokesman in Iraq, dismissed reports that Al-Zarqawi had been beaten to death by US soldiers after he survived a bombing of his shelter near Baqouba. An autopsy showed Al-Zarqawi died of massive injuries sustained in the bombing. General Caldwell said Al-Zarqawi’s body was treated with respect. ‘‘He was treated better in death than he treated others in life,’’ he said.

At Camp David, Mr Bush discussed with his Cabinet, top generals and the US Ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, ways to support Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. ‘‘We’re encouraged by the formation of a unity government, and we recognise our responsibilities to help that new government,’’ Mr Bush said.

On the question of reduction of US troops in Iraq, Mr Bush said, ‘‘Whatever we do will be based upon the conditions on the ground. And whatever we do will be toward a strategy of victory.’’

Dr Bahry explained that the Iraqi government is still not confident it can control the country without American support. But, he added, both the Iraqis and the Americans want the troops out but they are just ‘‘waiting for an appropriate moment.’’ 

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Hindu temple in Lahore demolished

Islamabad, June 13
The only Hindu temple in Lahore has been demolished to pave the way for the construction of a multi-storied commercial building.

The temple was recently demolished after officials of the Evacuee Property Trust Board, maintaining properties of minorities, reportedly concealed facts from the board Chairman about the nature of the building, Dawn reported today.

A private developer was allowed to demolish Krishna Mandir at Wachhoowali, Rang Mahal, and raise a commercial building in its place in violation of the board’s own scheme for the management and disposal of urban evacuee trust properties, it said.

Quoting documents, the paper said board officials did not mention that the property being given to an influential jeweller of the area, was a Hindu temple.

Had the officials indicated that, the Chairman might have rejected the request for its transfer to the developer.

The demolition was objected to by several opposition members of the National Assembly like the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, who reportedly moved a motion against the demolition, saying that such an act could have a bearing on Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring countries. — PTI

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Dipesh Shah quits as UK atomic energy chief
Saeed Shah

THE chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is to step down following speculation that he wanted to lead a management buyout and rumours of clashes with the organisation's chairman.

Dipesh Shah announced yesterday that he would not seek an extension to his contract, when the current three-year term as chief executive of UKAEA expires in the autumn. Mr Shah, 53, has been linked in recent weeks with leading a management buyout of the clean-up arm of the state-owned organisation.

He said that he was quitting because UKAEA had moved into the next phase of its development. "I have immense confidence in the future of the organisation. In the last three years, we have achieved a great deal," Mr Shah said.

He said that the organisation had now been split into three divisions: a business arm that does clean-up work at Britain's nuclear sites; a unit that looks after nuclear sites; and a research department studying nuclear fusion.

Mr Shah said that UKAEA had made no decision on the privatisation of the clean-up business and he did not expect an imminent decision.

"There are a range of options that are reviewed by the board on a continuous basis," he said.

He admitted, however, that, had the sell-off proceeded, he was interested in leading a management buyout - the unit has been valued at (pounds sterling) 450m. He is believed to have sounded out private equity backers for a bid.

"Were a change of ownership contemplated, I would have been happy to consider chairing that [buyout]," Mr Shah said.

— By arrangement with The Independent, London

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Yoga studios crop up across Washington

Washington, June 13
Yoga, the stretching exercise for fitness, is fast catching up here with several real-estate developers seeking to build its studios, along with retail and office space.

Yoga was made famous on the West Coast by an Indian immigrant, Bikram Chaudhary, who set up Bikram Yoga Center in California.

Now the yoga studios are moving from the West to East coast and across the national capital to give a fillip to the real-estate developers and re-vitalising long stagnant and run-down neighbourhoods in the city.

‘’Owners of yoga studios are drawn to cheap rents of transitional neighbourhoods, naturally, but some developers actively recruit them. They see the studios as symbols of safety for women and amenities for their target demographic,’’ according to the Washington Post.

Mr John K McIlwain, a senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, said: ‘’Yoga tends to be an activity done by well-educated people — it’s a quiet, subtle sign that things are changing. It doesn’t mean upper-income people necessarily, because students do it, but they are much more highly educated people. These tend to be the gentrifies.’’

Even though there are no exact figures on how many yoga studios have cropped up in and around Washington, an informal survey has put it at 25. — UNI 

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8 Palestinians killed in Israeli raid

Jerusalem, June 13
Two Palestinian militants and seven civilians, including two children, were killed today in an air raid carried out by Israeli forces in northern Gaza strip, the deadliest such strike this year.

Confirming the attack, the military said Israeli Air Force targetted a vehicle on its way to carry out rocket strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. It said two Islamic Jihad militant were among the dead.

Palestinian sources said that two of the dead were children.

In the first strike the missile failed to hit the crew’s vehicle as it drove in the congested Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, they said.

The second strike in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lehia, however, struck the rocket crew. — PTI

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Nepal releases 200 Maoists

Kathmandu, June 13
A day after scrapping the anti-terror law imposed by King Gyanendra, Nepal government today released 200 Maoists from various jails, paving the way for the first-ever direct talks between their leader Prachanda and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala expected soon.

The government also promised to hold within six months elections for a Consituent Assembly, which would draft a new constitution that is likely to clip the King’s powers.

The freed rebels had been detained in different jails on various charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (POTA) Ordinance introduced by the King, which was scrapped by the government yesterday.

The seven-party government has already withdrawn cases against them after Home Minister Krishna Sitaula met Maoist chief Prachanda near Pokhara in western Nepal on Sunday.

Maoist student leaders and trade union activists are among those freed. More detainees are in the process of being released, the official said.

Deputy Prime Minister Amik Serchen today said summit-level talks between Koirala and Prachanda will be held soon to end the 10-year long insurgency. — PTI

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