Forced evacuation of Gaza Strip to begin on Aug. 17

Sunday, July 10, 2005

JERUSALEM -- The forced evacuation of Gaza Strip Jewish settlements will begin Aug. 17 and settlers who refuse to leave by then will lose out financially, a senior Israeli official said Saturday, giving a starting date for the first time. Settler leaders have accused the government of trying to undercut resistance to the evacuation of Gaza's settlements and four in the West Bank with what they say are empty threats. Those who refuse to evacuate and are forcefully removed from their homes will be denied special government loans or discounts available to people who agree to leave early.

Birmingham, England, evacuated due to threat

LONDON -- Police ordered the evacuation of the entertainment district in central Birmingham late Saturday because of intelligence suggesting a security threat. Police initially restricted road traffic into the city center, but then ordered an evacuation after receiving further intelligence, a police spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity. Birmingham, 110 miles northwest of London, was the target of one of the worst Irish Republican Army bombings of the 1970s.

Iraq urges diplomats to stay in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq appealed to its global partners to defy al-Qaida's "blackmail" and keep their diplomats in Baghdad despite the reported slaying of Egypt's top envoy and threats against those who support the U.S.-backed administration. A U.S. commander acknowledged more needs to be done to protect foreign diplomats and "we've got to do something very quickly." The U.N. Security Council said Friday "there can be no justification" for attacks against diplomats.

U.S. continues search for missing Navy SEAL

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A purported Taliban spokesman said Saturday that the group has beheaded a missing American commando, but he offered no proof and the U.S. military said it was still searching for the Navy SEAL. The commando is the last of a four-member elite commando team missing since June 28 in Kunar, near the Pakistani border. One of the men was rescued and the other two were found dead.

Ex-rebel sworn in as Sudan's vice president

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- The former rebel leader who spent 21 years fighting Khartoum's government was sworn in Saturday as first vice president, pledging to unite Sudan. John Garang took the oath for the country's second most powerful position just after President Omar el-Bashir signed an interim constitution that promises broader freedoms for the Sudanese.

Gas explosion in southern Mexico kills two people

CUNDUACAN, Mexico -- A series of explosions at a natural gas pipeline near Cunduacan killed two people and set fire to houses, cars and cattle in rural southeastern Mexico. Hundreds of residents from four villages fled Friday night or were evacuated at the sound of a gas leak before a series of explosions. Flames and leaks were brought under control Saturday morning.

Srebrenica victims' remains to be buried

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Thousands lined Sarajevo's main street Saturday to watch a funeral cortege transport 610 bodies to the site of a memorial for victims of Europe's worst massacre since World War II. The bodies will be buried during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the massacre on Monday. Some 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered at Srebrenica in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb soldiers. The bodies were dumped in mass graves across the countryside and are still being found.

--From wire reports

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