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Friday, August 20, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
A strain of bird flu blamed for 27 deaths in Asia this year has been found in Malaysia, the government said yesterday, as hundreds of birds were gassed and their carcasses burnt to contain the outbreak.
Two chickens that died in a northern village near the Thai border were found to be infected with the deadly H5N1 strain in Malaysia's first bird-flu outbreak, said Abi Musa Asa'ari Mohamed Nor, secretary-general of the Agriculture Ministry.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization said there was still the risk the strain could jump to humans, with pandemic potential.
The recent deaths of three people in Vietnam have been blamed on the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The strain also killed 16 people there and eight in Thailand early this year.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Government to pay ex-paramilitaries
Guatemala yesterday agreed to pay former paramilitary members hundreds of millions of dollars for wartime activity that rights activists say included massacres, rapes and torture.
The $600 offer, first made by former President Alfonso Portillo in 2002, was widely criticized as a strategy to help former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's bid to win the presidency in last year's elections. Rios Montt mobilized the paramilitary units in the 1980s to combat insurgents. President Oscar Berger, who took office in January, promised to honor the deal during his election campaign.
Security forces seize Afghan narcotics
Iran's security forces have nearly doubled the quantity of drugs seized this year as they strive to stem a growing tide of opium from Afghanistan, a senior anti-drugs official was quoted as saying yesterday.
Mehdi Abouie, head of the police anti-narcotics headquarters in the southeastern Kerman province, said more than 24 tons of illegal narcotics had been seized nationwide between March and June, 82 percent more than the same period last year.
Abouie attributed the greater flow to a 12 to 15 percent increase in poppy cultivation in neighboring Afghanistan.
China to get money for HIV/AIDS drugs
China will receive $32 million to provide anti-retroviral drugs to people infected with HIV/AIDS mainly through botched blood-selling programs, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said yesterday.
China, which was slow in acknowledging the epidemic, says it has 840,000 HIV/AIDS cases, but experts say at least one million poor farmers were infected in the central province of Henan alone as a result of the blood programs.
The fund's first grant to China is for two years, the Geneva-based organization said in a statement. Its contribution to China's AIDS program will total $98 million over five years, the fund said.
Fight injuries claim Disney stuntman
An American stuntman in an Old West show at Disneyland Paris died from injuries during a fight after work with a colleague, officials said yesterday.
Levi Palmer, 27, an "Indian" working in the cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the suburban Paris theme park, died Monday, Disney and French judicial officials said.
Disneyland Paris, operated by Euro Disney SCA in the eastern Paris suburb of Marne-La-Vallee, is among Europe's leading tourist destinations and had about 12.4 million visitors last year.
Gangster shot in hospital bed
Masked gunmen shot dead a Polish gangster known as Konrad the Oboe as he lay in a hospital bed recovering from an earlier attempt to kill him, Warsaw police said yesterday.
Police spokeswoman Dorota Tietz said officers were hunting the killers of Konrad the Oboe, who had been convicted of crimes including assault and extortion. She said police did not know how he got his nickname, giving his real name only as Konrad O.
Public gangland killings were common in Poland in the years immediately following the 1989 fall of communism, but have become rare.
Officials complain of missing "tourists"
A total of 30 Chinese tourists have disappeared in Taiwan in the past month, prompting Taipei to urge Beijing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants to the island, officials said yesterday. Thirteen tourists from China's Fujian province disappeared after checking into a hotel Tuesday night, the second group of Chinese tourists to go missing since July, they said.
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said it suspected the group mostly men had come to Taiwan to find jobs.
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