Source AP ©

Philippine rebels declare cease-fire in typhoon-ravaged areas

Philippines government troops suspended anti- rebel operations, as Communist insurgents declared an indefinite cease-fire in areas devastated by the typhoon.

A day after Typhoon Mitag slammed into the northeastern corner of the country, killing at least eight people, Communist Party of the Philippines spokesman Gregorio Rosal said in a statement it was normal for the party's military arm to observe a unilateral cease-fire and offer assistance.

Armed forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon announced Saturday that the military has suspended its offensive operations against guerrillas in the northern Philippines to free up soldiers responding to the disaster.

The military later extended the cease-fire to central islands - or up to two-thirds of the sprawling archipelago - because of a re-entering storm.

Rosal said the rebel cease-fire "was a matter of policy, whether or not the government and its armed forces issue a similar declaration."

The 7,000-strong rebels have been fighting for a Marxist-led state for 39 years, and withdrew from peace talks in 2004.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the military to end the insurgency by the time she ends her term in 2010.

Russia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs is seriously concerned about the state of health of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Sergei Skrypal's niece, Victoria Skripal, said that her uncle had already died.

UK wants Sergei Skripal dead

The Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested Michael Calvey, the founder of Baring Vostok investment fund, on allegations of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles from Vostochny Bank. Calvey will be held in custody until April 13

Putin informed about arrest of US investor Michael Calvey