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17 December 2009updated 07 Sep 2021 6:52am

Bite-sized briefing: World

By Staff Blogger

In Pakistan, a car bomb in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan killed 27 people and wounded 53. The country has recently suffered surge in violence; over 100 people have been killed in bombings there since the start of December.

At least 35 Guantanamo detainees are to be transferred to an Illinois prison, a US official said. There are still 215 inmates at the camp. The US has confirmed it will be unable to close it by President Obama’s original 22 January deadline.

A car bomb exploded in Kabul, killing eight. It was the first such attack since President Hamid Karzai was sworn in for a second term. In Herat Province, a roadside bomb also killed five Afghan police.

Two Kurdish protesters were killed in Turkey, demonstrating against the constitutional court’s decision to ban the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party. The Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has criticised the ban.

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Silvio Berlusconi was hit in the face during a rally in Milan with a model of the city’s cathedral. The attack came a week after thousands of protesters marched through Rome calling for the president’s resignation. Souvenir vendors have since reported increased sales of the statuettes.

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An arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, was issued by a British court. It was then revoked as Livni, in office during Israel’s attacks on Gaza in December 2008, called off her visit to the UK. Israel reacted angrily to the move, which the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called “an absurdity”.

An air strike in Yemen killed 70 civilians. The government claimed responsibility, but the Houthis, rebels in the country’s north, blamed the Saudi Arabian air force. Civil war in northern Yemen has intensified in recent months and roughly 175,000 people have fled the fighting.

Greece will slash spending to reduce its debt, which has reached 112 per cent of GDP. The prime minister, George Papandreou, blamed systemic corruption for undermining the rule of law and exacerbating problems such as tax evasion.

Fidel Castro accused the US of plotting against Latin America’s left-wing governments and criticised its stance on the recent coup in Honduras. Hugo Chávez read the remarks to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America, founded as an alternative to US free-trade policies in the region, and echoed Castro’s view.

Ten Filipino communist rebels were killed by the country’s army on Mindanao Island, where 57 people were massacred in December. Malaysia is brokering talks between the government and the rebels, hoping for a peace deal before next May’s elections.

Visa-free travel in the EU was extended to Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, seen as a step towards them joining the EU. Other Balkan states must meet criteria on security, immigration and basic rights before their visa arrangements will be considered.

Eritrea’s football team absconded after a tournament in Kenya. It is the third time the team has fled. Hundreds of Eritreans flee the country’s repressive government, poverty and harsh national service programme each month.

The Russian human rights group Memorial received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The head of the group, Oleg Orlov, criticised European and US politicians for turning statements on Russia’s human rights into a “ritual”.

The Uzbek security services are harassing civil rights activists, Human Rights Watch said. Elections are due on 27 December.

Opium production in Burma increased by 50 per cent since 2006, the UN found. Instability in the north-east drove a rise in drug production, with militant groups using the profits for arms.

Malaria control improved hugely, the World Health Organisation said. A third of countries have seen cases fall by more than 50 per cent since 2000. Funding reached $1.7bn, but much more money will be needed to meet Millennium Development Goals.