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Developments in the region and abroad


Police uncover clues into slaying of Lankan intelligence officer
COLOMBO, Oct 31 (AP): Investigations have uncovered several key clues into the killing of a top intelligence officer by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels, Sri Lanka's police chief said Monday.
Lt. Col. Rizwi Meedin, was shot dead late Saturday near his home just outside the capital, Colombo. He was the most senior intelligence officer slain since Norway brokered a cease-fire between the Sri Lankan government and the rebels in 2002.
"The investigation is so far very successful," said Chandra Fernando, inspector general of police.
He said police were able to uncover several "key clues," from the crime scene, but declined to elaborate, saying it may hinder the probe.
"It is the LTTE, no one else," Fernando said, using the acronym for the Tigers' formal name: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Meedin, who had previously been involved in investigating the Tigers, had received death threats from the rebels.
Oil futures inch up on winter supply scares
SINGAPORE (AP): Crude prices rose slightly Monday amid continued concerns that increasing winter heating oil and natural gas demand during winter in the Northern Hemisphere will put a strain on storm-ravaged oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery inched up eight cents to US$61.30 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday rose 13 cents to settle at US$61.22.
Heating oil fell by 0.35 cents to US$1.8400 a gallon (3.8 liters) while gasoline lost 0.67 cents to US$1.6175. Natural gas declined 25.6 cents to US$12.799 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Gulf showed little improvement on Friday, suggesting that recovery from back-to-back hurricanes is going slower than expected.
Japan's central bank suggests it may end easy monetary policy next fiscal
TOKYO (AP): Japan's central bank said Monday that it may end its easy monetary policy next fiscal year, which begins in April, as price drops abate and the economy continues to rebound.
Speculation has been growing that the bank may shift gears in its policy soon because of multiple signs of sustainable economic recovery after nearly 15 years of little or no growth.
"The possibility of a departure from the present monetary policy framework is likely to increase over the course of fiscal 2006," board members said in a monthly report.
But it also said it was not in any hurry to change its monetary policy.
Earlier in the day, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged, leaving its target range for liquidity, which it measures through commercial banks' account balances at the central bank, in a range of 30 trillion yen (US$259 billion; euro215 billion) to 35 trillion yen (US$303 billion; euro251 billion). It also kept its monthly purchases of government bonds at 1.2 trillion yen ($10 billion; euro8.6 billion).
Five killed as man detonates grenades in China
BEIJING (AFP): A police chief and four others were killed when an armed robbery suspect detonated two hand grenades as police tried to arrest him in southern China's Hainan province, state press said Monday.
Six others, including two policemen, were injured in the Saturday night blast in Mutang Township, the Hainan Daily said.
The bomber, identified as He Dengtian, also died in the explosion, while a third grenade failed to detonate, it said.
Among the dead was Li Juerong, police chief of the Wangwu precinct in Zhanzhou city.
Police in Zhanzhou were tipped off about He's whereabouts and dispatched Li to detain him.
China's Hu begins three-day Vietnam visit
HANOI (AFP): Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Vietnam on Monday for a three-day visit aimed at shoring up ties between the Communist former rivals and countering growing US influence in Hanoi.
The two countries, historical enemies that fought a brief war in 1979 and only normalised ties in 1991, have gradually been putting behind territorial disputes in order to pursue more friendly relations.
Zanzibar's opposition leader declares his party in the lead based on early results
ZANZIBAR (AP): Zanzibar's opposition leader declared Monday that his party held an early lead in a crucial election that turned violent with police and ruling party militia engaging in running battles with opponents through the streets of this semiautonomous archipelago's main town.