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Lebanon opposition heading for victory

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Tripoli, Lebanon Pro-Syrian candidates appeared headed for defeat Sunday in Lebanon’s first free elections in three decades – an outcome that would break Damascus’ longtime domination of Lebanese political life and its parliament.

A pro-Syrian leader acknowledged a major defeat for his candidates and an anti-Syrian opposition official said the ticket’s unofficial results indicated a near sweep in the contest for 28 parliamentary seats in northern Lebanon.

Whatever the outcome, the Christian-Muslim solidarity that emerged after the February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has been marred by sectarian divisions.

The ticket led by the slain prime minister’s son, Saad Hariri, must win 21 of the 28 seats to gain a majority in the 128-member body.

The unofficial tally by the campaigns of tickets backed by Hariri appeared to guarantee the opposition a majority in the new legislature and break the hold Syria has held in the outgoing parliament for more than a decade.

Fierce fighting rages in south Afghanistan

Kandahar, Afghanistan Fierce fighting between Taliban rebels and Afghan security forces left 18 insurgents and three others dead, a day after the U.S. military pounded suspected rebels in airstrikes that killed as many as 20, officials said today.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman said his fighters killed a kidnapped Afghan police chief and five of his men for working with the U.S.-led coalition.

Three months of bloodshed have left hundreds dead and sparked fears that the Afghan war is widening rather than winding down. U.S. and Afghan officials warn violence could get worse as September parliamentary elections approach.

Ex-Kyrgyz legislator seized after takeover

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan A former parliament speaker has been arrested after a brief takeover of Kyrgyzstan’s government headquarters, according to a news report Sunday.

Mukar Cholponbayev, who served as speaker of the Central Asian nation’s lower parliament house in the late 1990s, was arrested in the capital Bishkek on Saturday, media reported.

An official said Cholponbayev was suspected of helping organize a takeover Friday in which about 2,000 supporters of a would-be presidential contender stormed the headquarters.

Beheaded bodies found in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand The beheaded bodies of a Laotian couple were found in southern Thailand over the weekend and were believed to be the latest victims of Muslim separatist violence, police said Sunday.

The bodies of Amkha Duangmala, 26, and his wife, Konmanee Duangmala, 25, were found late Saturday in a hut on a chicken farm in Pattani province, police said.

Police believe Muslim separatists were responsible for the killings but gave no evidence to back up the claim.

The violence in southern Thailand began during 2004 and, since then, has claimed more than 860 lives.

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