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SUSPECT ARRESTED IN ARSON OF TOP CULTURAL TREASURE

South Korea

Police arrested a 70-year-old man suspected of setting a fire that destroyed the country's top cultural treasure, the 610-year-old Namdaemun gate in Seoul, authorities said today. The man, identified only by his family name Chae, was arrested Monday night on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, Korean national news organizations said. "The suspect has admitted he carried out an arson," police official Lee Man Kook said, without giving further details. The fire broke out Sunday night and burned down the wooden structure at the top of the Namdaemun gate, which once formed part of a wall that encircled the South Korean capital. Police have secured a letter from the suspect, in which he complained about the compensation for his lands in Gyeonggi province near Seoul and he set the fire to draw social interest, Yonhap news agency said.

East Timor

President in 'extremely serious' condition after shooting

East Timor's president was in "extremely serious" but stable condition today after surgeons worked through the night to remove bullet fragments, the administrator of an Australian hospital said. In a failed coup attempt, rebel soldiers shot President Jose Ramos-Horta in his home early Monday and separately attacked the prime minister, who escaped unhurt. The country's top fugitive, Alfredo Reinado, was killed in one of the attacks. Ramos-Horta, 58, was flown to a hospital in the northern Australian city of Darwin. East Timor declared a two-day state of emergency today.

Elsewhere

India: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the iconic guru who sought to blend Eastern spirituality and Western science to harness the mind's power and heal the world, was cremated Monday.

Israel: Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that Israel could bring down the Gaza Strip's Hamas regime and ordered plans for a large ground invasion of Gaza. But he said troops would not move soon.

Bolivia: President Evo Morales declared a U.S. Embassy security officer an "undesirable person" Monday after reports that the officer asked an American scholar and Peace Corps volunteers to pass along information about Cubans and Venezuelans working in Bolivia.

France: President Nicolas Sarkozy's spokesman David Martinon on Monday pulled out of the mayoral race in a chic Paris suburb after Sarkozy's son disavowed him. Jean Sarkozy, 21, until recently campaigned for Martinon.

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