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Rajapakse’s brother escapes bid on life
A Sri Lankan vehicle is engulfed by flames near the convoy of Sri Lankan Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse after a suicide bomb attack in Colombo on Friday. Gotabaye Rajapakse, Secretary to the Defence Ministry and brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, was unhurt after the blast. Colombo, December 1
Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary and President Mahinda Rajapakse’s brother Gotabhaya today narrowly escaped an LTTE suicide attack that killed atleast one person and injured 15 others here.

A Sri Lankan vehicle is engulfed by flames near the convoy of Sri Lankan Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse after a suicide bomb attack in Colombo on Friday. Gotabaye Rajapakse, Secretary to the Defence Ministry and brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, was unhurt after the blast. — AFP photo

Messenger of peace

Pope Benedict XVI frees a dove upon his arrival at Istanbul’s Holy Spirit Cathedral before celebrating the second and final mass of his busy four-day visit to Turkey on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI frees a dove upon his arrival at Istanbul’s Holy Spirit Cathedral before celebrating the second and final mass of his busy four-day visit to Turkey on Friday. — AFP

Blame-game unfortunate: Pak
Islamabad, December 1
Islamabad has termed as ‘unfortunate’ the Indian blame-game despite the assurance by New Delhi at the foreign secretary-level talks early this month that in future it would not accuse Pakistan without any evidence.

N-protocol: India first, says Pak
Islamabad, December 1
Pakistan has told the United States and other members of Nuclear Suppliers Group that it would consider signing IAEA’s additional protocol only if India sign it as well, a media report said.

3 die in Iraq blast
Baghdad, December 1
A car bomb blasted Baghdad's celebrated pet market on Friday, killing three persons and wounding 22 others, police sources said.



Russian Anna Netrebko smiles after receiving the Bambi media prize in the category “Classic” in Stuttgart on Thursday.
PRIZED CATCH: Russian Anna Netrebko smiles after receiving the Bambi media prize in the category “Classic” in Stuttgart on Thursday. — AFP

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Rajapakse’s brother escapes bid on life

Colombo, December 1
Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary and President Mahinda Rajapakse’s brother Gotabhaya today narrowly escaped an LTTE suicide attack that killed atleast one person and injured 15 others here, even as a special Norwegian envoy held talks with the government on ending the ethnic conflict.

A Tiger suicide bomber rammed a three-wheel scooter taxi laden with explosives into the convoy in which Gotabhaya Rajapakse was travelling.

The powerful blast, a short distance from the tightly guarded residence of President Rajapakse, left the Defence Secretary, who was wearing a bullet-proof jacket and travelling in a bullet-proof vehicle, unhurt.

The deadly mid-morning assassination attempt came as Oslo’s special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer held talks with government officials on stemming the violence in the island.

President Rajapakse, whose one-year in office has seen a steep rise in fighting between the Tiger rebels and government troops, said the attack would not make him swerve from his purpose of bringing peace.

“President Mahinda Rajapakse remains unshaken in his resolve to achieve peace in Sri Lanka and is undeterred in his efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violence,” a statement from his office said, shortly after the incident.

Mr Gotabhaya, a younger brother of Rajapakse, was on his way to a high-level security council meeting at the President’s official residence Temple Trees, when the explosion occurred.

He is widely regarded as the mastermind of increased military operations in recent months including ground shelling and aerial bombing against the LTTE. — PTI

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Blame-game unfortunate: Pak
Qudssia Akhlaque

Islamabad, December 1
Islamabad has termed as ‘unfortunate’ the Indian blame-game despite the assurance by New Delhi at the foreign secretary-level talks early this month that in future it would not accuse Pakistan without any evidence.

Reacting to Indian National Security Adviser M K Narayanan’s claim on Wednesday that ‘nine Pakistan-based Jehadi terrorists’ were involved in the July 11 Mumbai blasts, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said: “Such statements are unfortunate in the absence of any evidence and merely propagandist in nature.”

Mr Narayan’s declaration comes a fortnight after Pakistan and India formally set up an institutional mechanism to cooperate in counter-terrorism efforts.

Ms Aslam told Dawn that Pakistan had so far received no official communication from India in this regard and neither had the government raised the issue with New Delhi. “No leads, information or evidence has been shared with us till now,” she said. The spokesperson recalled that Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon at the last round of talks had held out the assurance that India would not indulge in finger-pointing towards Pakistan without evidence, and added: “Clearly this claim is at variance with that understanding given to us.”
She stressed that a proper forum to raise such matters was the joint anti-terror mechanism and not the media.

Dismissing the allegations as baseless and malicious propaganda against Pakistan, the spokesperson noted: “If India was serious about it and had evidence, it would have come forward and shared it with us by now.” — By arrangement with the Dawn

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N-protocol: India first, says Pak

Islamabad, December 1
Pakistan has told the United States and other members of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that it would consider signing IAEA’s additional protocol only if India sign it as well, a media report said.

The NSG had earlier asked Pakistan to sign the additional protocol of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to pave the way for nuclear energy cooperation between Islamabad and the western nations.

The additional protocol was drafted to strengthen the verification ability of the IAEA after the 1991 revelation that Iraq had nearly developed a nuclear weapon without the agency’s knowledge.

“Pakistan will consider signing the protocol only after it is done by India as well and that has been conveyed to the member-states of NSG,” The Nation quoted diplomatic sources here as saying. — UNI

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3 die in Iraq blast

Baghdad, December 1
A car bomb blasted Baghdad's celebrated pet market on Friday, killing three persons and wounding 22 others, police sources said.

The central Ghazil market, a popular spectacle on weekend Fridays, specialises in selling pet animals, ranging from guard dogs to monkeys and snakes. — Reuters

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BRIEFLY

‘The Scream’ thief dies of drug overdose
Oslo: One of three thieves who stole Edvard Munch's masterpiece ''The Scream'' and another of his paintings has died of an apparent drug overdose while still at large, Oslo police said. ''The Scream'' and ''Madonna'' were stolen in August 2004 by two masked gunmen in an audacious raid on Oslo's Munch Museum in front of stunned tourists. The artworks were recovered by the police this August. — Reuters

Talks on N. Korea likely in January
Seoul:
Stalled six-country talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme may not resume until January, South Korea’s new Foreign Minister said today. “North Korea may require more time for its in-depth analysis of the situation following the just-ended working-level contacts in Beijing,’’ Mr Song Min-soon said, according to the Yonhap news agency. — Reuters

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