20 Taliban killed in new operation




KANDAHAR, Afghanistan &

An operation in southern Afghanistan involving 200 Afghan police working alongside Western troops killed 20 Taliban fighters, officials said Tuesday, in an area where the militants largely had been kept at bay in recent years.




Afghan police and NATO and coalition soldiers surrounded two villages in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province on Monday and Tuesday, killing 20 Taliban fighters and wounding 25, said provincial police chief Sayed Afgha Saqib.




It's one of the first times large numbers of Taliban fighters have moved into the region just north of Kandahar city &

the Taliban's former power base &

since the militant movement was toppled from power following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.




The clash also comes two weeks after the death of Mullah Naqibullah, a local powerbroker who had managed to keep the Taliban out of Arghandab district despite the militant movement's resurgent strength in Afghanistan's south.




"The Taliban are trying to run away, but we have the area surrounded," Saqib said. "We are on the offensive, and they are on the defensive."




100 Buddhists march in Myanmar




YANGON, Myanmar &

More than 100 Buddhist monks marched in northern Myanmar for nearly an hour today, the first public demonstration since the government's deadly crackdown last month on pro-democracy protesters, several monks said.




The monks in Pakokku shouted no slogans, but one monk told the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based short-wave radio station and Web site run by dissident journalists, that the demonstration was a continuation of the protests in September.




"We are continuing our protest from last month as we have not yet achieved any of the demands we asked for," the monk told Democratic Voice of Burma.




"Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and immediate release of (opposition leader) Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political prisoners," said the monk, who was not identified by name.




He said they had little time to organize so the march was small but "there will be more organized and bigger protests soon."




'The Eel' caught after latest jailbreak




THE HAGUE, Netherlands &

A Belgian gangster dubbed "The Eel" for his skill at slipping away from Belgian prison authorities was caught in the Netherlands two days after his latest jailbreak, police said today.




Nordin Benallal &

reportedly making his fourth escape from prison &

took guards hostage in Ittre, Belgium, at gunpoint Sunday after his getaway helicopter crashed. He was caught Tuesday after holding up a motorcycle shop in the Netherlands, police said.




Benallal, 27, and another suspect in the attempted robbery are in custody in The Hague, police spokeswoman Tessel Horsman told NOS news.




It was not the first time the man dubbed "De Paling" &

"The Eel" &

by Dutch press had staged a successful prison break. Belgian news reports said it was his fourth escape.




This time, an accomplice forced a helicopter to land in the prison yard of one of Belgium's most secure, modern prisons during evening exercise time. That plan went awry when other convicts attempted to jump on and the aircraft crashed, injuring the pilot and several prisoners.




But Benallal and the accomplice managed to escape by taking two guards hostage at gunpoint and walking out the main entrance, then stealing a car. The car later was recovered &

with no trace of the criminals.




After crossing into the Netherlands, he and another man tried to rob a motorcycle store, police said. The other suspect has not been identified.




"" The Associated Press