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World in brief: Military rejects rebels’ cease-fire

Sri Lankan forces attacked a rebel-held village in the north with heavy machine gun fire early today, just hours after rejecting the Tamil Tigers’ call for a truce as a ploy to avoid certain destruction, a rebel-linked Web site reported.

The military attacked the small, coastal village of Mullivaikal from the north, south and west about 3:45 a.m. today, TamilNet reported.

The assault came amid growing diplomatic pressure for a cease-fire to allow tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone to escape to safety. The top U.N. humanitarian official, John Holmes, met Sri Lanka’s foreign minister today to express concern for the estimated 50,000 trapped civilians.

Saying they were concerned about the fate of the civilians, the rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire Sunday.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Two guards killed in bombing

A roadside bombing in Afghanistan killed two members of a new U.S.-funded civil defense force Sunday, while authorities destroyed 6.5 tons of drugs and chemicals seized in the battle against the rampant narcotics trade.

The two guards from the Afghan Public Protection Force were the first members of the new program to die in the line of duty, said Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for Wardak province’s governor.

The program trains and equips villagers to provide security in their own areas.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Offensive targets area under pact

Pakistan sent helicopter gunships and troops to attack Taliban militants Sunday in a district covered by a peace deal after strong U.S. pressure on the nuclear-armed nation to confront insurgents advancing in its northwest.

At least 31 people were killed in the offensive, which sent some residents of Lower Dir district fleeing carrying small children and few belongings.

The operation appeared to endanger a peace pact struck with Taliban militants in neighboring Swat Valley, although a top official insisted the deal was “intact.” Another official demanded the insurgents disarm, but a Taliban spokesman said the militants would not give up their weapons.

From wire reports

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