Bush urges Pakistan to hold elections




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan &

President Bush urged Pakistan's military leader to hold parliamentary elections and shed his army uniform, while the opposition claimed that hundreds of its supporters were detained overnight to head off a major protest against emergency rule.




Police arrested at least 800 supporters of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto across the eastern province of Punjab ahead of a rally she is planning in Rawalpindi on Friday in defiance of a government ban, said Jamil Soomro, a spokesman for the opposition leader.




But the government denied the arrests, saying today that no such crackdown had been ordered.




"According to my information, only four members from her party were detained last night when they defied a ban on rallies," said Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.




Thousands of lawyers and opposition activists have been detained since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Saturday, suspending the constitution and giving authorities sweeping powers. The government also has blacked out independent TV news networks.




Troops flood Georgian capital




TBILISI, Georgia &

Troops flooded the center of the Georgian capital today to enforce a state of emergency imposed after a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.




News broadcasts on independent stations were halted and all demonstrations banned.




President Mikhail Saakashvili announced a 15-day nationwide state of emergency late Wednesday after riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against thousands of demonstrators calling for Saakashvili to resign.




Nearly 100 people hurt during the clashes remained hospitalized Thursday, the Health Ministry said.




The crackdown followed six days of protests in front of Parliament &

Georgia's worst political crisis since the pro-Western Saakashvili was elected nearly four years ago.




Afghans bury 73 suicide attack victims




KABUL, Afghanistan &

Under tight security, thousands of people gathered in Kabul today for the funeral of lawmakers who died in the country's deadliest-ever suicide attack, a strike that killed some 73 people, many of them schoolchildren.




Clerics recited prayers in the empty field next to Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings in the city's western outskirts, as the flag-draped bodies of five slain lawmakers and their five bodyguards were lowered into the ground, one by one.




Six lawmakers, including Sayed Mustafa Kazimi, the chief spokesman of Afghanistan's only opposition group, were among those killed Tuesday in northern Afghanistan. Witnesses said some victims may have been killed or wounded by guards who opened fire after the blast.




Kazimi was one of five lawmakers to be buried in the capital. The sixth is to be buried in southern Helmand province, officials said.




Hundreds of relatives of the slain lawmakers cried and rushed toward the grave as the body of Kazimi was lowered into the ground. Local and international dignitaries stood in silence in a tent, overlooking the ceremony.




Asian markets hurt by Wall St. worries




TOKYO &

Asian markets fell today after Wall Street posted its second big drop in a week as investors worried about the extent of fallout from the global credit crisis.




Japan's benchmark index sank 2 percent, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled 3.2 percent. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 4.9 percent in its biggest one-day decline in four months.




Shares also fell in Australia, India, South Korea and the Philippines.




"" The Associated Press




"There has been renewed concern about the U.S. subprime loan problem amid reports that losses at U.S. and European financial institutions are expanding, which increases uncertainty," said Koji Takeuchi, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute in Tokyo.




Jitters have grown since Citigroup Inc. said Sunday it needed to take an additional $8 billion to $11 billion in writedowns.