All Over the Globe

Moscow ends truce in Grozny after Chechen counter-attack

MOSCOW, Jan 10 (AFP)

Russia said Monday it was resuming its full-scale offensive against rebel Chechnya on Monday after Chechen fighters took advantage of a three-day lull in the capital Grozny to counter-attack.

A furious Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said the suspension of the drive against Grozny had been wrecked by weekend attacks by Chechen guerrillas against Argun, Shali and Gudermes.

Moscow said Friday it was suspending its onslaught on the Chechen capital to allow civilians trapped there to leave, citing the dangers of chemical weapons being deployed by the city’s defenders.

“What truce can there be when terrorists are launching such backhand attacks?” said Sergeyev as he announced the resumption of hostilities.

The rebels killed 26 Russian soldiers in 24 hours, with another 30 injured, Russian military sources said Monday, one of the highest single day casualty figures announced since Russian troops drove into Chechnya on October 1.

General Viktor Kazantsev, who commands Russian troops in the northern Caucasus, insisted Monday his forces had regained control in Shali, Argun and Mesker-Yurt, a village near Argun which Chechen rebels claimed to have captured over the weekend.

As of 0500 GMT in Argun, “all the main positions are under Russian control, the troops there have been reinforced,” said Kazantsev.

Despite the Chechen counter-offensive, the Russian campaign in Chechnya would be over within two months, he said.

“In the future we will not believe in promises, including those of Maskhadov who called for this (ceasefire). In the future, there will no pity either,” Kazantsev added.

An Interfax correspondent reported several dozen dead in fierce fighting at Shali, 25 kilometres (15 miles) southeast of Grozny, though the reporter did not specify if they were Russian or Chechen, civilian or military.

A Chechen military commander quoted by the news agency said Russian troops only controlled their command post there and were shooting at anything that moved. Interfax’s correspondent confirmed Chechen forces had attacked there Monday.

The Russian military command at the main federal military base in Mozdok, North Ossetia, told Interfax its troops were fighting Chechen forces in Shali and Argun.

Ulusa Gushtayeva, a refugee from Achkhoi-Martan, 35 kilometres (22 miles) southwest of Grozny who arrived at the Russian-Chechen border told AFP that the village was still under Russian control.

Chechen rebels claimed Sunday to have taken the village, but Gushtayeva said: “We haven’t seen any fighters. There are many soldiers and (elite Russian) OMON troops in the village.


Karimov wins near-unanimous re-election

TASHKENT, Jan 10 (AFP)

Uzbek President Islam Karimov was swept back into office with an overwhelming 91.90 percent of the vote against 4.10 percent for his sole opponent, Abdulhasiz Dzhalalov, the electoral commission announced Monday.

But the victory was bittersweet for Karimov, a former Communist boss who has for the last decade ruled the poor Muslim state with an iron first, because Dzhalalov virtually admitted his candidacy had been a charade.

Unheralded challenger Dzhalalov, a Marxist philosophy professor, grabbed post-election headlines when he conceded that he had only entered the race to make it look democratic and had himself voted for Karimov.

“I voted for stability, peace, our nation’s independence, for the development of Uzbekistan,” Dzhalalov said after casting his ballot Sunday in the election, which reported a 95.10 percent turnout.

“So, as paradoxical as it may sound, I voted for Islam Karimov,” the candidate said, adding: “I ran so that democracy would win.”

Karimov came in for bitter criticism from human rights groups for running a Stalinesque state in which uncooperate journalists are arrested and opposition parties are simply banned or their members forced into exile.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) shunned Sunday’s ballot after witnessing a December parliament race that saw five pro-president parties compete.

Karimov has stiffly denied that he hand-picked a weak and obedient opponent in order to make the outcome look fair.

After the OSCE’s snub, Karimov shipped in 108 international observers from friendly states like China, Russia and Moldova, giving them all a warm reception and putting them up in the city’s only western hotel.

These observers in unison Monday pronounced the election valid.

“I had forecast these results after spending all day watching the process and seeing how eager everyone was to vote, and to vote only for Karimov,” said Egypt’s Mukhammad as-Said Salim, director of Cairo University’s Eurasian studies department.

“Uzbekistan needs a strong leader. They see their future in Karimov.”

Germany’s Leonid Livitin, born in Uzbekistan, conceded that Karimov did not have much of a challeger.

“I agree that there was no strong competition, but the voters could have crossed out all of the candidates in protest. But they did not,” the observer said in an interview.

State-run television, the only channel here, meanwhile did its best throughout Sunday to demonstrate how eager the Uzbeks are to vote.

In one clip, a journalist stood in front of a polling station when its doors opened at 6:00 a.m. Behind him, a stream of people began jogging through the door and into the booths.

“I am very honored to fulfill my duty by voting for the future of Uzbeksitan,” one of the woman who burst into the polling booth later told the camera.


Taiwan’s computer virus arsenal

Taiwan plans to retaliate with computer viruses

By Francis Markus Taipei (BBC)

When stories about defence crop up on Taiwanese television, it is normally jet fighters and warships that flicker across the screen.

But the military is trying to highlight the more insidious threat of electronic warfare, which it fears that China could deploy against the island.

The head of the Defence Ministry’s Information and Communications Bureau, Lieutenant Lin Chin-ching, told the BBC that his officers had categorised about 1,000 different computer viruses, which could be used to fight back in the event of a Chinese electronic onslaught.

Computer bugs are augmenting the traditional arsenal

He said Beijing had not yet managed to penetrate the Taiwan military’s computer network, even though several government internet sites were the target of mainland Chinese hackers last year.

But General Lin said the military was earmarking a special budget next year to work on information and electronic warfare.

Increased precautions include such basic measures as warning devices that sound an alert if computer junction boxes are tampered with.

But one of the key threats is complacency.

In an electronic warfare exercise last year, General Lin said the side posing as red enemy troops for the first time defeated the blue players, which represented Taiwan’s own forces.


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