Gas prices spark protests in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia more than doubled the average cost of fuel Saturday in a bid to stave off an economic crisis, sparking transport strikes and violent protests from people who have long enjoyed some of the cheapest gas prices in the world.

The larger-than-expected increases, announced after a Cabinet meeting Friday and implemented the following day, raise the price of gasoline by 87 percent to $1.71 per gallon, more than double the price of diesel fuel and triple the cost of kerosene.

The increases will push up the price of everything from rice to fish to cigarettes in the sprawling country of 220 million people, half of whom live on less than $2 a day.

Protesters burned tires and effigies of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, while others commandeered diesel trucks and blocked roads.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets nationwide in recent days and rowdy rallies were reported in at least 10 cities early Saturday, though the turnout was small given the size of the nation and its history for massive street protests.

Colombian drug suspect eludes extradition

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – An accused drug trafficker who allegedly masterminded the smuggling of tons of cocaine into the United States may never see the inside of a U.S. prison – or even a courtroom.

On Friday, President Alvaro Uribe ordered the paramilitary leader Diego Fernando Murillo transferred from a country house in northwest Colombia, where he was under police guard, to a maximum security prison north of Bogota, the capital.

U.S. Ambassador William Wood praised the order as “an important and courageous step,” but did not rescind the U.S. request to have the accused drug lord extradited to the United States.

In recent months, Murillo has been under house arrest, but has been free to leave the rural house for official disarming ceremonies for thousands of paramilitary fighters. He has been linked to the murder of a local politician, but not formally charged, and it was unclear whether he would face charges under the latest order.

Uribe on Thursday ruled out extraditing Murillo as long as he quits committing crimes and complies with a peace accord between the Colombian government and the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC.

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