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Top Hezbollah militant is killed: A Hezbollah leader accused of mounting attacks that left hundreds of Americans and Israelis dead has been killed, Hezbollah confirmed this week. Imad Mughniyeh, 45, was reportedly killed in a car bombing in Syria. Hezbollah accused Israel of committing political assassination, but Israel denied any involvement. Mughniyeh was believed to be Hezbollah’s operations chief, and his death is considered a major blow to the group. He had been in hiding for years and was indicted in the U.S. for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed. He was also suspected of masterminding the 1983 attack on the Marine base in Lebanon that killed 241 Americans. Mughniyeh was on an FBI Most Wanted list with a $25 million bounty on his head—the same bounty the U.S. has set for Osama bin Laden.

Okinawa, Japan

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Marine accused of rape: Japanese police arrested a U.S. Marine this week on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old Okinawan girl, in a case that threatens to reignite anti-American sentiment in Japan. Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, 38, admitted forcing the girl to kiss him, but said he did not rape her. U.S. military authorities said they would assist police in the investigation. American authorities are eager to prevent a repeat of the massive protests that rocked Okinawa in 1995, when three American servicemen were convicted of gang-raping a 12-year-old girl. Some 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan, mostly in Okinawa.

Dili, East Timor

Ramos-Horta shot: East Timor declared a state of emergency this week after rebels staged armed attacks on both the president and prime minister. One of the attacks left President Jose Ramos-Horta seriously wounded, with gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach. He is being treated in a hospital in Australia. During that incident, presidential guards shot and killed rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who commanded a group of former army officers angry over the restructuring of the military two years ago. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped uninjured when his motorcade was ambushed shortly after the attack on Ramos-Horta. Australia, which has had peacekeepers stationed in East Timor since the tiny half-island won independence from Indonesia in 1999, rushed more troops to Dili to help keep order. Ramos-Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his efforts to free East Timor from Indonesian oppression.


Troops will stay: The pace of U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq will likely slow this year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to Baghdad this week. Reductions in troop levels are planned through the summer, from a high of 160,000 down to about 130,000, but further cuts are not on the table. “I think the notion of a brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense,” Gates said, after meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. His comments came amid a marked increase in attacks on the Sunni “Awakening” militias that have been working with U.S. and Iraqi forces to defeat al Qaida in Iraq.


Treasured landmark is destroyed: South Korea’s top architectural treasure, the 600-year-old gate to the old city of Seoul, burned down this week in what police say was arson. A 69-year-old man confessed to the crime, saying he was involved in a land dispute with a development company. In 2006, the same man, identified only as Mr. Chae, was charged with setting fire to the Changgyeong Palace in Seoul, which suffered $4,000 worth of damage. The Great South Gate, or Namdaemun, was made of wood and stone and had a double-tiered, pagoda-shaped tile roof. Legend had it that the gate would protect the city against a fire spirit that lived in a nearby mountain.

Canberra, Australia

Apology to Aborigines: The Australian parliament this week issued a formal apology to the country’s Aboriginal people for past governments’ practice of forcibly removing their children. “For the pain, suffering, and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants, and for the families left behind, we say sorry,” the official statement reads. For 60 years, until 1970, the government took thousands of mixed-race and Aboriginal children from Aboriginal families and housed them in industrial schools. The policy was intended to “breed out the color,” in the words of Cecil Cook, the administrator of Aborigine territories in the 1930s. The current prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was elected last November on a platform that included an official apology to the Aborigines.

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