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PAKISTAN / 21 insurgents killed

A Pakistani government official says security forces repulsed a militant attack against an army checkpoint in a northwestern tribal region and killed 21 insurgents. Samiullah Khan, a senior government administrator in the Orakzai region, says troops and artillery successfully defended the checkpoint in a Pakistani Taliban stronghold. Pakistani forces began an operation in Orakzai in mid-March to flush out militants who fled an earlier army offensive against the group's main base in nearby South Waziristan.

CUBA / Prez blasts hunger strike

Cuban president Raul Castro called mounting international pressure over Cuba's human rights record one of the strongest assaults its communist government has ever faced and vowed not to yield to the "blackmail" of a high-profile hunger strike. In a 45-minute nationally televised speech, he did not mention anyone by name but said his government has the right to beat back any efforts to destabilize it. Cuba's human rights situation has become increasingly tense since the Feb. 23 death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo after a long hunger strike in jail. Another man, journalist Guillermo Farinas, has refused to eat or drink since then.

SOUTH KOREA / Oil tanker may be hijacked

South Korea's Foreign Ministry says a South Korean-owned oil tanker with 24 South Korean and Filipino sailors aboard is believed to have been hijacked Sunday by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden. An official says a South Korean navy ship received a call from the tanker saying three Somali pirates had boarded the vessel, adding there was no subsequent contact from the Louisiana-bound tanker, which was sailing from Iraq.

RUSSIA / Bomber may be teacher

A Russian newspaper quotes a man as saying that one of the Moscow suicide bombers may have been his daughter, a 28-year-old teacher named Maryam Sharilova. Rasul Magomedov is quoted as saying a photo of a bomber looks like Sharilova and that she was wearing the same red scarf the last time he saw her. The March 29 attack by two female suicide bombers killed 40 rush-hour commuters.

Compiled from news reports

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