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An estimated 60,000 South Korean Buddhists rallied Wednesday against alleged religious discrimination by the government of President Lee Myung Bak – the latest setback for his protest-plagued administration. Discontent among Buddhists has been brewing for months over Lee's alleged favoritism toward Christianity. Buddhists have criticized Lee for filling most of his Cabinet and top presidential posts with fellow Christians.

The top US diplomat in Peshawar, Pakistan, escaped an attempt on her life Tuesday when two men with AK-47s jumped in front of her armored-vehicle and sprayed it with bullets. Lynne Tracy, who heads the US consulate, was driven to safety by her driver, who jammed the vehicle in reverse and sped away.

The first Japanese to be kidnapped in Afghanistan was killed, likely by a rock attack, police officials said Wednesday after the body of Kazuya Ito, an agricultural aid worker, was found in the remote eastern Afghan mountains. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The Japanese government said no ransom demands had been made.

The Swiss government said it opposes an initiative to ban the construction of minarets at Islamic prayer houses in the country. Supporters of the ban, which will be decided in a referendum in two months, say the minaret is a symbol of Muslim conquest. The government says the proposal violates human rights and the Swiss Constitution and would not help combat Islamic fundamentalism.

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