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There is an air of spirituality over multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia. Today, Muslims welcome their holy month - Ramadan - by starting a period of fasting and abstinence. Yesterday, Hindus and Taoist Chinese started celebrating I>Navarathri /I>(nine nights) and the Nine Emperor Gods Festival respectively which fall at the same time every year according to the lunar calendar. Meanwhile, the Catholics are well into observing the Rosary month that falls every October.
US forces stepped up operations yesterday across a wide swath of the Sunni insurgent strongholds north-west of the capital, pounding targets in two cities from the air and supporting Iraqi troops in raids on mosques suspected of harbouring insurgents.