World briefs – December 7

In a show of unity, the U.S., Japan and Korea are demanding that North Korea stop provoking Seoul and take concrete steps to reverse its nuclear weapons program.

Nations demand demand NKorea halt provocations

WASHINGTON — In a show of unity, the U.S., Japan and Korea are demanding that North Korea stop provoking Seoul and take concrete steps to reverse its nuclear weapons program.

At a news conference with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said they agree that there should be no direct talks with North Korea until it changes course.

Clinton said China’s proposal for a resumption of nuclear talks with North Korea is “appreciated” by the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

But she said that should not happen until North Korea halts what she described as “provocative and belligerent” behaviour, following the deadly shelling last month of a South Korean island.


Boy arrested as suspect in fire

JERUSALEM — Israeli police say they have arrested the “prime suspect” in the nation’s worst wildfire — a 14-year-old boy who says the blaze was an accident.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the boy was arrested on Monday.

Questioned by police, he told them he had been smoking a water pipe last Thursday and threw some burning coals into an open area in the Carmel forest in northern Israel.

Rosenfeld says the boy told police he panicked, fled the scene and returned to school without telling anyone as the fire quickly spread through the forest.

Rosenfeld would not say how police found the boy, or whether he was connected to other suspects. Police have two other youths under house arrest.

Forty-two people died in the blaze.


Pilot who dropped toilet paper gets probation

WESTWOOD, N.J. — A North Jersey pilot who alarmed people on the ground when he tossed rolls of toilet paper from a small plane has been placed on probation and will have to write a letter of apology.

The Record of Woodland Park reports that 60-year-old Warren Saunders of Westwood entered into the plea agreement Monday with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

He pleaded guilty to dropping objects from an aircraft in a populated area. He’ll write a letter to the town’s mayor apologizing.


Bombers kill 50 at anti-Taliban meeting

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Two suicide attackers wearing police uniforms and jackets packed with explosives and bullets blew themselves up at a gathering of tribesmen to discuss the formation of an anti-Taliban militia in northwest Pakistan Monday, killing 50 people, officials said.

The meeting was being held at the main government compound in Mohmand, part of Pakistan’s militant-infested tribal region. It was the latest strike against local tribesmen who have been encouraged by the government to take up arms against the Taliban.

More than 100 people were wounded, many of them critically, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Also Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed seven people in Khushali village in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media. Both of the bombers were disguised in tribal police uniforms, said Khan.

One of them was caught at the gate of the compound, but he was able to detonate his explosives, he said.

The Pakistani army has carried out operations in Mohmand to battle Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in the area, but it has been unable to defeat the militants.

The military has encouraged local tribesmen to form militias to oppose the militants. These groups have had varying degrees of success and have often been targeted in deadly attacks.

A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in northwestern Pakistan in early November that was frequented by elders opposed to the Pakistani Taliban, killing 67 people. The attack occurred in the town of Darra Adam Khel, a militant stronghold on the edge of the tribal region.

“We are not scared of such attacks and will keep on taking these enemies of humanity to task until they disappear from society,” said Hussain, the information minister.

The U.S. has ramped up its drone attacks in Pakistan’s lawless border region, and Monday’s were the latest of more than 100 to hit the area this year. The strikes target key Taliban and al-Qaida figures and attempt to weaken their capacity to attack American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

American officials rarely acknowledge the missile strikes, which Pakistan officially condemns as a violation of its sovereignty and critics say amount to an assassination campaign that may violate international law.

Most of the strikes have been in North Waziristan, where Islamist militants run terrorist training camps and plot attacks in Afghanistan.

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