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World in brief: Extremists burn churches in protest

Fri., Dec. 28, 2007

Hindu extremists torched nearly a dozen churches and the home of a Christian leader Thursday, defying a curfew imposed to quell three days of religious violence in eastern India. Christians retaliated by setting fire to several homes belonging to Hindus.

Local police have been unsuccessful in halting the attacks and the federal government announced it was sending in a paramilitary force.

About 19 churches, most of them small mud and thatch buildings, have been razed since violence broke out on Christmas Eve when long-standing tensions between the Hindu majority and the small Christian community erupted over conversions to Christianity.

ADELAIDE, Australia

War criminal freed after seven years

Convicted terrorism supporter David Hicks is scheduled to walk free Saturday after being held captive in Guantanamo Bay and Australia for nearly seven years, though the Australian government has imposed strict controls on his movements.

Hicks became the first person convicted at a U.S. war-crimes trial since World War II when he pleaded guilty in March to providing material support to al-Qaida.

He was captured in December 2001 by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, where he had been fighting with the Taliban. A month later, he was sent to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he spent more than five years without trial.

A U.S. military tribunal sentenced Hicks – a Muslim convert who has since renounced the faith – to seven years in prison, with all but nine months suspended. A plea bargain allowed him to serve the remainder of his sentence in his hometown of Adelaide in South Australia state.


Chad calls charity workers kidnappers

France asked Chad on Thursday to hand over six French charity workers convicted and sentenced to eight years of forced labor for trying to kidnap 103 children from the central African country.

The six workers from the charity group Zoe’s Ark, charged with fraud and kidnapping, were convicted and sentenced Wednesday by a court in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

French Justice Minister Rachida Dati said in a statement that the repatriation request had been filed with her Chadian counterpart. Such requests are allowed under a 1976 judicial accord between the two countries.

But Chadian Justice Minister Albert Pahimi Padake said his country would have the last word.


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