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July 13th, 2009
World Links: Japanese PM to Dissolve Parliament, First African Leader on Trial for War Crimes

Seven Christian churches in Iraq, in and around Baghdad and Mosul, are bombed in three days, leaving four dead and at least 28 wounded. About one million Christians have fled persecution in Iraq after earlier church bombings, other targeted killings, and Muslim-extremist threats in Mosul and across the country.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso calls to dissolve Parliament and hold general elections for its lower house after his Liberal Democratic Party’s defeat in Tokyo’s municipal elections on Sunday. Aso’s Liberal Democrats have been in power since 1965, but yesterday’s election result, in favor of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo, is considered a bellwether for the lower house elections of Japan’s parliament. The lower house legislators select the country’s prime minister.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Il may have pancreatic cancer, according to unidentified South Korean and Chinese intelligence sources. Kim Jong-Il is known to have suffered a stroke in August 2008. Other unsubstantiated reports claim that Kim Jong-Il designates his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, for succession.

The Somali government regains control after a day of violence with anti-government militants in the capital, Mogadishu. African Union peacekeepers are drawn into the conflict while guarding the presidential palace after rebels approach the government building.

Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor, the first African leader on trial for war crimes, takes the stand at a special tribunal for Sierra Leone in the Hague. His indictment holds him accountable for commanding barbaric rebels during a decade-long period of violence that led to as many as 200,000 deaths in West Africa, including the diamond-mining areas in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Germany formally charges accused World War II Nazi camp guard John Demjanjuk as an accessory to almost 28,000 murders. The Ukrainian, retired auto worker from Ohio is deemed fit to stand trial in Munich after his deportation from the United States in May.

Human rights investigators and journalists call attention to the conditions in a closed-off Tamil refugee camp in Sri Lanka and ask for a peaceful end to the decades-long ethnic conflict. The Sri Lankan government alleges that Tamil refugees are harboring remaining members of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), a terrorist organization whose 26-year insurgency against the government ended in late May after the killing of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the rescue of civilians held hostage by the group.

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