Czech ambassador dies in hotel blast
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Czech Republic's ambassador to Pakistan was among the victims of an Islamabad hotel bombing that killed at least 57, authorities say.
Between 150 and 230 others were injured in what appeared to be a suicide truck bombing, CNN reported Sunday. Czech ambassador to Pakistan Ivo Zdarek, 47, was among the fatalities, police superintendent Sheikh Zubair said, while two Americans and a Lithuanian were also among the casualties.
Witnesses told Pakistani television a small car crashed through the gates of the Marriott Hotel, followed by an explosives-laden truck that detonated. Geo TV reported most of the fatalities were people waiting outside the hotel to get their cars, as well as hotel staff and security guards, CNN said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who only hours earlier had vowed to continue the fight against terrorism in his inaugural address to Parliament, condemned the blast and said the government was ready to take on the challenges from terrorists, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Zardari: Terrorism 'a cancer' to eliminate
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called terrorism "a cancer" as his government appealed for help in identifying those responsible for a deadly hotel blast.
In a brief nationally televised address late Saturday, Zardari said, "Terrorism is an epidemic, a cancer which we will eliminate at all costs," the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
The president said he and the nation had no fear in battling terrorists, adding, "Pakistanis consider their lives a trust of Allah Almighty and have no fear of death as its day is fixed."
The Saturday blast killed at least 57 and injured as many as 230 others. Witnesses say a small car burst through the gates of the Marriott Hotel, followed by a suicide truck bomber. The explosion claimed the Czech Republic's ambassador to Pakistan among its victims, CNN reported.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Sunday called on the nation to isolate what he called the "black sheep" trying to destabilize Pakistan's democracy, VOA reported, saying a $130,000 reward has been offered for information on the attack's organizers.
Obama blasts McCain on deregulation
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Barack Obama criticized his Republican rival over comments in which he praised the deregulation of the financial industry.
Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, appearing at a college Saturday in the key battleground state of Florida, highlighted an article from a trade journal for insurance actuaries bearing the byline of GOP rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In it, McCain advocates "opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking."
Obama has been attempting to link McCain and his chief financial adviser, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, to last week's Wall Street financial crisis by portraying them as among the chief proponents of cutting back financial industry regulation.
"So let me get this straight -- he wants to run healthcare like they've been running Wall Street," Obama told the audience at Bethune-Cookman University. "Well, Senator, I know some folks on Main Street who aren't going to think that's such a good idea."
McCain's campaign told The Washington Post the criticism was "a red herring" and McCain was referring to regulation changes allowing banks to operate across state lines.
Olmert informs cabinet of resignation
JERUSALEM, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his resignation to his cabinet Sunday, and prepared to submit an official letter to President Shimon Peres.
Olmert, who is stepping down amid a criminal investigation into his personal financial dealings, also congratulated Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on winning an election to succeed him as leader of the Kadima Party and offered to help her build a new governing coalition, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"This was not an easy decision, or a simple one," Olmert said. "This was a difficult decision with serious misgivings, but I think I am acting in an appropriate manner, as I have promised the people of Israel.
"I think that this government has done good things -- some that we are able to speak about, and others that we are not," he added.
Olmert did not mention at the meeting when he intends to meet Peres to give him his official notice of resignation, Ynetnews said. An unnamed source told the Web site the meeting could come as early as Sunday, but if not, would have to wait for Peres' return from New York, where he is traveling to attend the United Nations General Assembly opening.
Asian countries ban Chinese milk products
BEIJING, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Asian countries are banning Chinese dairy products and foreign manufacturers are poised to benefit from China's tainted baby formula scandal, analysts say.
With the dairy products of three of China's leading brands found to contain traces of the banned chemical additive melamine, local Asian media say Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma and Bangladesh as well as Hong Kong have banned Chinese dairy products, BizChinaUpdate reported Sunday.
The publication said that while the European Union maintains no Chinese milk products have officially entered EU countries, it is warning illegally distributed dairy products from China should not be consumed.
Meanwhile, Chinese analysts say while the domestic dairy industry is crippled because of the scandal, foreign producers are rushing to fill the domestic void, China Daily reported.
Chen Lianfang, an analyst with Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultants, told the newspaper the market dominance of foreign brands will likely now be further consolidated.
He said only three domestic brands are among China's top 10 sellers and two of them, Shengyuan and Yili, have been implicated in the current scandal.