Troops move in to protect Bangkok Bank headquarters

Thai troops armed with assault rifles moved into Bangkok’s central business district this morning to stop thousands of anti-government protesters and threatening to march down the capital’s “Wall Street.”

The government had earlier declared Silom Road, a thoroughfare studded with bank headquarters and office buildings, off-limits to the protesters who have camped in the capital’s main shopping district nearby for weeks.

Troops initially blocked entry into the road, popularly known as Thailand’s Wall Street, but then pulled back almost half its 1.5-mile length to protect a key target of the protesters, the headquarters of the Bangkok Bank, which was barricaded by barbed wire.

Many of the demonstrators, who had earlier faced off against the troops across an intersection, also pulled back. The so-called “Red Shirts” claim the bank has close ties to the government.

CARACAS, Venezuela

Ex-boxing champ arrested in stabbing death of wife

Former lightweight champion Edwin Valero was detained Sunday on suspicion of killing his wife, the gravest in a string of problems that have threatened to derail his career.

Venezuelan Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores said Valero was arrested after police found the body of his 20-year-old wife in a hotel in Valencia. Valero, 28, left the hotel room around dawn Sunday and allegedly told security that he had killed Jennifer Viera, Flores said.

Flores told state TV that police found three stab wounds on Viera’s body. He said Valero was transferred to a local police precinct, “where we are headed to take samples needed for the investigation of the case” and to question the boxer.

Valero’s lawyer, Milda Mora, did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.


Hard-line challenger wins key Turkish Cypriot election

Hard-line challenger Dervis Eroglu won a key Turkish Cypriot leadership election Sunday, vowing to continue peace talks amid fears his victory could grind reunification negotiations with the Greek Cypriots to a halt and scuttle Turkey’s bid for European Union membership.

Eroglu won just enough votes for an outright victory, with 50.38 percent, compared to leftist incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat’s 42.85 percent, according to results posted on the Turkish Cypriot High Electoral Board’s website. Candidates needed 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff.

It was a much closer race than expected, as opinion polls had consistently predicted Eroglu to win by a wide margin.

KASHOBA, Swaziland

Environmental group leader receives international award

When Thuli Makama set out to help struggling communities in Swaziland, she envisioned mediating agreements allowing people to collect firewood from wildlife parks. Instead, she ended up fighting to save lives.

Makama, head of the Swazi environmental group Yonge Nawe, has been investigating allegations of private park rangers killing suspected poachers in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Today, she was named one of this year’s winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the most prestigious international award for environmental activists.

The U.S.-based Goldman organization hailed her as among “a group of fearless emerging leaders taking on some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems affecting not only local communities but the entire planet.”

However, the man many Swazis credit with founding the kingdom’s conservation movement, Ted Reilly, says his rangers act within laws aimed at stopping poaching, often at great personal risk.

“Very similar numbers of rangers have been killed in the line of duty by poachers as vice versa,” he wrote The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Makama says families living just outside the parks where foreign tourists vacation depend on international food aid — and the occasional antelope or warthog hunted in protected land.

“These are just hunters and gatherers who need this to survive,” Makama said. “People are being killed for hunting a small impala.”



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