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Cleric who backed bombings released

Wed., June 14, 2006

Authorities released militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir from prison today, and about 150 of his supporters jubilantly greeted him with shouts of “God is great!”

The 68-year-old cleric, an alleged key leader of the al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, had served 26 months in prison for giving his blessing to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, which killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Bashir’s release raises concerns among Indonesian officials that he could energize the country’s small, Islamic radical fringe. A strident critic of the United States, Bashir is known for his fiery speeches.


Power restored at U.S. mission

Cuban authorities Tuesday denied U.S. charges that they had deliberately cut off water and power to the American diplomatic mission in Havana, saying bad weather and technical problems were to blame.

Electricity was restored Tuesday, a day after U.S. officials had complained that the service problems were part of a campaign of harassment by island authorities.


N. Korea may hold missile test launch

South Korea’s ambassador said Tuesday there are some indications that North Korea is preparing for a test launch of a long-range ballistic missile.

“We see the signs that they are moving in that direction,” Ambassador Lee Tae-sik said.

A missile test would add a new dimension to the North Korean issue. North Korea has been under a self-imposed ban on testing of long-range missiles since 1999. It agreed to take that step during a period of relative warmth in the country’s relations with the United States.

In recent years, the United States and four Asian partners have been trying to persuade the North to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.


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