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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0805-1530

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

1. United States Marines have fought Shiite Muslim fighters in the Iraqi city of Najaf for a third day. The fighting Saturday was some of the most fierce in months. Hundreds of fighters of Shiite Clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr disobeyed an order by Najaf’s governor for all fighters to leave Najaf by nighttime. The battles this week ended a two-month ceasefire between United States forces and Mahdi army of Mr. al-Sadr. The fighting in Najaf is seen as a major problem for Iraq’s temporary Prime Minister Iyad Illawi.

2. The Iraqi government has ordered the Arab television station al-Jazeera to close its Baghdad office for one month. Prime Minister Iyad Illawi said the National Security Committee made the decision after it studied al-Jazeera broadcasts. The Iraqi Interior Minister says al-Jazeera incites criminals to increase their activities by broadcasting kidnappings and hostages threatened with execution. Al-Jazeera Television has had similar problems in other Arab countries. These include Bahrain, Jordan and Iraq when ousted leader Saddam Hussein ruled.

3. Police in Pakistan say a car bomb has killed two people and wounded at least three others in the port city of Karachi. Officials say the bomb exploded early Saturday in the southern part of the city. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Police blame Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda-linked militants for the most attacks in Karachi in recent months.

4. In Indian Kashmir, at least ten people have died in two separated battles between suspected Islamic militants and security forces. Indian officials say five of the victims died during fighting south of the summer capital Srinagar. Two of the dead were rebels. The second gun battle was northeast of Srinagar. A civilian woman, two Indian soldiers and two rebels were killed.

5. Taliban fighters have killed two election workers in Afghanistan. The governor of Oruzgan says attackers fired on a group of civilian election workers traveling in the southern province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The militants linked to the former Afghan rulers say they will interfere with the country’s first presidential election in October and parliamentary election planed for April. Militants have repeatedly attacked election workers, United Nations employees, aid workers and companies working in southern and southeastern Afghanistan.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

6. At least 10 Chinese coal miners are dead after a gas explosion in the northern Shanxi province. 5 others are missing. The official Chinese News Agency says 99 coal miners were underground at the time of the explosion Friday. Most of the workers were not injured. Officials are investigating the cause of the explosion in the mine in Hejin city. The mining industry in China is the world's biggest and most dangerous. Thousands of people are killed in explosions, floods and other mine accidents every year.

7. North Korea has strongly criticized Japan for planning navy exercises with the United States near Tokyo. A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused Japan of planning the exercises at the request of the United States. North Korea accused Japan of violating an agreement to work toward establishing diplomatic relations between them. Japan says the navy exercises in October will be similar to earlier training to stop illegal weapon shipments. 15 nations plan to take part in the exercises of Tokyo Bay.

8. 3 labour union activists have been killed in Colombia. The military says soldiers shot the activists in the eastern town of Saravena. The soldiers reportedly had been sent to arrest the activists for carrying weapons and explosives. The Colombian military says the labour activists have links to a leftist rebel group, the National Liberation Army. Colombian labour union leaders dispute the military's claims. The leaders accuse the army of murdering the activists. Human rights groups have called for an investigation.

9. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he hopes relations with the United States will improve no matter who wins the presidential election in November. Mr. Chavez spoke Friday at a ceremony to mark a new agreement between Venezuela and ChevronTexaco Oil Company to develop a new oil field. Relations between the Chavez and Bush administrations have been tense since the attempted ouster of the Venezuelan President in April, 2002. Mr. Chavez says the Bush administration supported the attempted overthrow.

10. And in sports news, Japan has once again won the Asian Cup Football Championship. Japan defeated China 3 goals to 1. The 2 football teams decided the championship in a game played in Beijing Saturday.

And now briefly, here again is the major news of the hour in Special English.

United State marines have fought Shiite Muslim fighters in the Iraqi city of Najaf for a third day. The fighting Saturday was some of the fiercest in month.
Police in Pakistan say a bomb has killed 2 people and wounded at least 3 others in Karachi. And in Indian Kashmir at least 10 people have died in 2 separate battles between security forces and suspected Islamic militants.

That's the news in VOA Special English. From Washington, this has been Steve Ember reporting.
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