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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0824-1530

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It is 15:30 Universal Time. I’m Steve Ember in Washington.

1. American and Iraqi forces continue to surround an Islamic holy center in Najaf Iraq. Iraqi troops are urging supporters of Shiite Muslim clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr to leave the center or be attacked. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Al-Shaalan told al Arabia television that it soon will be time to make a decision. He suggested there would not be an attack on the Imam Ali Shrine on Tuesday. Aides to the clergyman said they are willing to negotiate an end to the conflict. Earlier in Baghdad, resistance fighters attacked vehicles carrying two members of Iraq’s temporary government. The two officials were not hurt. But five guards and a bomber were killed.

2. Also in Iraq, the kidnappers of a Lebanese man have announced his release. The kidnappers say they freed Mohammed Raad at a request of committee of highly educated Muslims. Mr. Raad was kidnapped more than a week ago by a group called the Islamic Movement of Holy Warriors. The group had accused him of working for American-led troops in Iraq.

3. The president of Afghanistan says he will free 400 Pakistanis held in Afghan jails since 2001. The Pakistanis supported the former Taliban government of Afghanistan and fought against American-led forces. Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced his decision after talks in Pakistan with Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Minister said the meeting was very successful.

4. A United States military court has charged a Yemeni man with plotting to carry our murder and terrorism. United States forces reportedly captured Salim Ahmed Hamdan and three other suspected al-Qaeda members during the war in Afghanistan in 2001. American officials say Mr. Hamdan was a driver for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The other suspects are from Yemen, Australia and Sudan. They are to be charged later this week.

5. Nepalese officials say four soldiers have been killed in a fight with Maoist rebels. Rebel fighters continue to surround Nepal’s capital Katmandu. The rebels are threatening to attack anyone who enters or leaves the city unless Nepal’s government meets their demands. The rebels want the government to free all jailed rebels. On Monday, the government again asked the rebels to join peace talks. A seven-month ceasefire between the two sides ended last August.

6. A South Korean official is in Beijing for talks about ways to restart negotiations about North Korea’s nuclear program. Lee Soo-hyuck will travel to Japan for similar talks later this week. North Korea has said it will not attend future negotiations about its nuclear program because of American policies. North Korean officials have strongly criticized President Bush. On Monday, an American State Department official said that plans for talks about the North Korean nuclear program will go forward.

7. A human rights group has added 37 companies to a list of businesses that provide financial support to the military government in Burma. Among the companies added are the British carmaker Rolls Royce and the insurance company Lloyd's of London. The Burma campaign UK says its list now includes 95 companies. The group also said it removed 20 companies from the list after they ended all involvement in Burma.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

8. In Bangladesh, protesters have attacked train stations and police in several parts of the country. Government opponents called a two-day nationwide strike to protest a bomb attack Saturday at a political gathering in Dacca. The opposition Awami League said the bombing was an effort to kill its leader former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The attack killed 20 people and injured 150 others including the former Prime Minister.

9. In India, employees of state operated banks have been taking part in a one-day strike. The bank employees want a 16 percent increase in pay. The banks are offering a little more than 9 percent. Indian truck drivers also are striking. The truck drivers are protesting a new 10 percent service tax.

10. An Indonesian court has sentenced the suspected member of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah to 10 years in prison. The court ruled that M I also called I helped plan the bomb attack last year at a Jakarta hotel. 12 people were killed in that attack. The court decided not to punish I for the 2002 bombings in Bali because of a legal problem. Australia has asked the Indonesian government to find a way to charge I for that bombing again. Police have said he helped plan and pay for the Bali bombings. 2002 people were killed in that attack.

11.The parliament in Taiwan has agreed to establish an independent committee to investigate the shooting of ……

12. A storm called Typhoon Ella has killed at least seven people in Taiwan. The storm closed schools, public offices and financial markets on the island. It is now moving toward eastern China.

13. Scientists in Australia say they are starting tests for a new medicine that could protect chickens and ducks from the disease bird flu. The scientists say the vaccine will be tested in chickens. The scientists say a vaccine is a better way to stop bird flu than killing millions of animals. They say a vaccine would be safe, easy to use and cost little to produce.

Briefly here again is the major news of the hour.

Iraqi troops in the city of Najaf are urging supporters of Muslim clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr to leave an Islamic holy center or be attacked. The president of Afghanistan says he will free 400 Pakistanis who fought against American-led forces. And Australia wants more charges brought against an Indonesian man for his part in the bomb attacks on the island of Bali two years ago.

That’s the news in Special English.
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