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Two communist rebels killed in Philippines
MANILA, Dec 29: Two communist guerrillas were killed and another captured in the first clash after the Philippine government's unilateral Christmas truce ended, an army spokesman said Thursday. Soldiers clashed with about five rebels of the communist New People's Army (NPA) near Hinabangan town on the central island of Samar, killing the two, Major Bartolome Bacarro said--AFP.

Moderate earthquake jolts northern Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Dec 29: A moderate earthquake measuring 5.3 on the open-ended Richter scale jolted northern Pakistan early Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage, officials said. The quake was felt at 3:04 am (2204 GMT Wednesday) in several cities including the capital Islamabad and the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, devastated by the massive October 8 quake, seismologists said--AFP.

Mahathir quashes health rumours
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29: Former Malaysian premier Mathir Mohamad's office on Thursday quashed rumours that he was seriously ill, saying he had been admitted to hospital for a routine cardiac check-up. "It's routine, as in it's every year. Unfortunately this time around it has spread some rumours," his spokesman told AFP after the 80-year-old checked into the National Heart Institute late Wednesday--AFP

Two US soldiers injured in Afghanistan
KABUL, Dec 29: Two US soldiers were injured Thursday when a bomb planted on a roadside in troubled southern Afghanistan ripped through their vehicle, the US military said. The troops were patrolling near Gereshk, the capital city of insurgency-hit Helmand province, when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle, US military spokesman Lieutenant Mike Cody said--AFP.

Landslide kills 30 in Yemen
SANAA, Dec 29: Some 30 Yemenis were killed in an overnight landslide which hit a village on a rocky slope near the capital Sanaa, an interior ministry official said Thursday. The landslide hit the small village of al-Dhafeer, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Sanaa, destroying 15 out the village's 27 houses, the offical said, requesting anonymity--AFP.

Two US Marines in rape investigation allowed to leave Philippines
MANILA, Dec 29: Two US Marines who were accused of raping a Filipina woman have been allowed to leave the Philippines after prosecutors decided not to file charges against them, local media reported Thursday. Corporals Albert Lara and Corey Barris have been released from US embassy custody and allowed to return to their home unit in Okinawa, Japan, ABS-CBN television reported--AFP.

Singapore to register Islamic teachers by March
SINGAPORE, Dec 29: Islamic teachers in Singapore will have to be accredited by a panel of Muslim leaders before they can preach in mosques or teach in religious schools known as madrassas, the government said. Registration of Islamic teachers is currently on a volunteer basis. It was introduced in 2002 after the arrest of Ibrahim Maidin, a local religious leader whom authorities alleged was also a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) extremist network--AFP.

Indonesia completes pullout of non-local troops from Aceh
BANDA ACEH, Dec 29: Indonesian troops have completed their withdrawal of non-local troops from Aceh, said a spokeswoman from the foreign mission monitoring a peace agreement signed between separatists and the government. "The troops have pulled out... This is the final relocation," spokeswoman Faye Belnis from the Aceh Monitoring Mission said, adding that troops had boarded ships that would depart later Thursday--AFP.
17 feared dead in north China coal mine flooding
BEIJING, Dec 29: A coal mine in north China's Shanxi province has flooded, killing two people and trapping 15 others underground, state media said Thursday. The accident took place Wednesday at the Fanjiasi mine in Dianwan town, Zuoyun county, Xinhua news agency said, citing information from the provincial coal mine work safety supervision bureau--AFP.
Pakistani soldier, civilian killed in tribal area
MIRANSHAH, (Pakistan), Dec 29: A Pakistani paramilitary solider and a civilian were killed while two suspected spies have been arrested in a restive tribal district near Afghanistan, officials said Thursday. The soldier was shot dead by suspected militants late Wednesday in Mirali, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) east of the Miranshah, the main town in the troubled region of North Waziristan-- AFP.