Army troops in Pakistan said they wounded and captured one of the Taliban's most senior figures Monday as he and five other militants crossed the border from Afghanistan. Mansoor Dadullah was reported to be in critical condition after a gunfight in Baluchistan Province. A Taliban spokesman would not comment on the Pakistani claim, nor would US officials.
Iran not only won't back down from its nuclear standoff with the West, but it also intends to fire more rockets into space and launch its own research satellite into orbit this summer, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday. In an address on the 29th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, he chided the US and other Western powers who worry about Iran's ambitions, saying "they can't do anything but play with papers." Above, Tehran residents mass for anniversary celebrations.
A new snag appeared in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government as its Protestant senior minister said condition are not yet ready for its legislature to assume responsibility for the police and the courts. The Rev. Ian Paisley said he wouldn't be bullied by the prime ministers of Britain and the Irish Republic, both of whom want the transfer completed by the target date in May. The powers still are held by Parliament in London, but their transfer is seen by Northern Ireland's Catholics as a top priority.
In a new threat against the US, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Sunday night that he'd cut off sales of crude oil if ExxonMobil pursues its legal battle against his government. The company has obtained court orders that would freeze more than $12 billion in Venezuelan assets in return for having its operations there seized on Chávez's order. Venezuela sells 1.3 million barrels of crude a day to the US, and a cutoff would drive up energy prices, analysts said.
Armed men invaded a private museum in Zurich, Switzerland, as it was about to close Sunday and stole $163.2 million worth of paintings by famous impressionists Paul C´Ezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. The theft was the second of its type in Switzerland in less than a week. Last Wednesday, two Pablo Picasso paintings worth a combined $4.5 million were stolen from an exhibition in the town of Pfaeffikon.
Arson was being investigated as the cause of a fire that destroyed the No. 1 architectural treasure in South Korea Sunday night. Two cigarette lighters were found at the scene, the Namdaemun Gate, which once formed part of the security wall around the capital, Seoul. The gate dated to 1398. Rebuilding it will take at least three years and cost $21 million, the government estimated. Below, President-elect Lee Myung Bak (at front, with a hand to his face) and other officials leave the gate after an inspection tour.
Heavy new snowfalls appeared likely for parts of China just as millions of people prepared to return to the cities after spending the Lunar New Year holiday in their home villages. Rail and bus systems in some areas still are recovering from preholiday storms and bitter cold that caused massive delays and cost billions of dollars in damage. In western Guizhou Province, a bus skidded off a highway bridge Monday, killing or injuring 29 people.
Four years early, Chinese authorities released a leading journalist who'd been jailed for corruption, perhaps as a warning to others in the news media against criticizing the government. Yu Huafeng was deputy editor of the Southern Metropolis Daily in Guangdong when he and two colleagues were arrested in 2004. The newspaper helped to fuel public anger by reporting on the death of a man in police custody and on the threat to public health of the so-called SARS virus. The codefendants previously were freed. Rights groups have been pressuring China to free prisoners of conscience before this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.