March 5, 2008 in Nation/World

World in brief: China’s defense spending up 17%

The Spokesman-Review

China announced its largest ever defense budget Tuesday, a day after the Pentagon warned that China’s burgeoning military is fine-tuning its abilities for cyber-warfare and in disabling the satellites of potential enemies.

China’s defense budget will rise to $59 billion this year, an increase of 17.6 percent over a year earlier, said Jiang Enzhu, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress.

The increase, the latest in a string of double-digit hikes over more than a decade, puts China’s military spending on a par with that of Russia, Britain and Japan.

Jiang said the military budget was barely keeping pace with the nation’s galloping economy, and that defense hikes lagged behind the growth of government revenues. For the past five years, he said, China’s defense-budget increases averaged 15.8 percent each year while government revenues soared 22.1 percent a year.

Lahore, Pakistan

Suicide bombers kill four, injure 16

Two powerful suicide bomb blasts at Pakistan’s Navy War College killed at least four people and injured 16 Tuesday in the fifth consecutive day of major attacks by pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan.

The early afternoon assault in the heart of the country’s cultural capital was the second against a high-profile military target in Pakistan in a week, and marked a significant setback to pledges by the beleaguered government of President Pervez Musharraf to improve security.

The first blast occurred when a man wearing a vest packed with explosives walked up to the main gate of the navy college. “Our security men saw the bomber but he blew himself up as soon as he was stopped at the gate,” said Capt. Akbar Naqi, a spokesman for the Pakistani navy.

A second man approached the gate on a motorcycle moments later and detonated his bomb in the parking lot. The impact of that blast set off a chain reaction of explosions as several vehicles fueled by natural gas went up in a wall of flames.

Cairo, Egypt

64 opposition members arrested

Police arrested 64 members of Egypt’s largest opposition movement on Tuesday, the first day for registration of candidates for key local council elections, the group and police said.

The Muslim Brotherhood has accused the government of seeking to prevent it from running in the elections with a wave of arrests in recent weeks.

The arrests came in dawn raids in five provinces, a police official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Brotherhood spokesman Gamal Nassar said the new arrests included some potential candidates for the April 8 local council elections.

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