World News Brief, Thursday February 5

Over 50 civilians killed in Sri Lankan fighting; US warns North Korea on possible missile test; drought threatens Chinese wheat harvest; Taliban seize Pakistani policemen; and more


Top of the Agenda: Sri Lanka Conflict

Fierce fighting continued today in Sri Lanka and the United Nations reports over fifty civilians have been killed in the past day. The Press Trust of India reports cluster bombs struck a hospital, which the Sri Lankan military says is the last remaining hospital in rebel-controlled territory. Sri Lanka's president said Tamil Tiger rebels will be "completely defeated within a few days" (al-Jazeera)--though the government made similar statements following massive military operations against the militants in January.

Meanwhile, international pressure for a cease-fire has mounted, particularly given reports of grave humanitarian suffering in the country's war-afflicted areas. Both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister David Miliband urged a temporary cease-fire (Times of London). Pro-rebel parties in India's state of Tamil Nadu called a strike to protest the violence (AFP). The Economist profiles the "miserable fate" of non-combatants in Sri Lanka in a new analysis piece.


  • Another Backgrounder takes a historical look at the Sri Lankan conflict.


PACIFIC RIM: U.S.-North Korea

A spokesman from the U.S. State Department spoke out on reports that North Korea may be preparing to test fire a long-range ballistic missile, saying such a move by Pyongyang would be "unhelpful and, frankly, provocative" (Bloomberg).

CHINA: Xinhua reports a major drought threatens China's wheat harvest.



Fighting rages in Pakistan's Swat Valley; militants seize dozens of police.
Latvia's government faces possible no-confidence vote.

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