Six killed in Kashmir


Six people, including five suspected rebels, were killed in separate gunbattles on Friday in Kashmir, officials said. Indian troops surrounded a rebel hideout on Friday in the Hano hills and killed three rebels in a gunfight, a paramilitary officer Surinder Kumar said. Meanwhile, security forces killed two suspected rebels on Friday after a night-long gunfight in Balpora village, police officer R Jalla said. One soldier was also killed on Friday. — AP

Pak tightens security


Pakistan tightened security on Friday as grieving Shiite Muslims prepared to bury a prominent religious leader who was among 17 people killed in an outbreak of sectarian violence last week. Curfews were in place in the town of Gilgit, where cleric Agha Ziauddin was ambushed by gunmen on Saturday, and in nearby Skardu, while extra police were deployed at mosques nationwide to prevent further protests. — AFP

Call for joint AIDS fight


Lawmakers and government ministers from over a dozen countries opened a two-day conference on AIDS on Friday, as Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz called on South Asian nations to make joint efforts to fight the pandemic. “The killer disease knows no borders and spares no one,” state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency quoted Aziz as saying. “We have to fight this for our future generations. If we do not take time out to support (each other), then the entire South Asia will miss an opportunity,” Aziz said. — AP

Six Afghan soldiers killed


Six Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack by Taliban-linked militants in southeastern Afghanistan, an official said on Friday. The soldiers were killed on Monday and their bodies were found the next day in the Washore district of Hilmand, one of the most troubled provinces in the southeast. They were ambushed by the Taliban as they patrolled in the region. Taliban militants, whose fundamentalist regime was toppled by a US-led invasion in late 2001, are still carrying out attacks on foreign and local troops, mainly in southern and southeastern parts of the country. More than 800 people died in mainly Taliban-linked violence last year, despite the presence of 18,000 US-led troops in the country. — AFP

New Indian IB chief


ESL Narasimhan, deputy director of India’s internal intelligence agency, was on Friday appointed as its chief. Narasimhan, a 1968-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, will take charge on February 1 on the retirement of current Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief AK Doval on Jan 31, an official statement said here. The new chief will have a tenure of 10 months as agency head before he retires. — HNS

Two killed in Thai attacks


Two civilians were shot dead and six other people, including a policeman, were injured in a string of bomb attacks and ambushes by suspected Islamic separatists in southern Thailand, police said on Friday. Suspected militants staged four shootings and three bombings in the southern provinces of Yala and Pattani since Thursday. Suparerk Tassana, 45, a government official working on community development projects, was on Thursday shot dead by suspected militants. On Friday, gunmen shot dead Manoch Churach, 34, in Pattani. — AFP

Tycoon gets death penalty


A Chinese tycoon once worth over $360 million has been sentenced to death for having one man killed and plotting the murder of another, a news report said on Friday. Yuan Baojing was convicted of hiring a hitman in a failed plot to kill a business partner who had caused Yuan’s company to lose $11 million, the Beijing Evening News reported. — AP