World briefs 11/28/05

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chechen voters choose new parliament

GROZNY, Russia -- Chechens voted Sunday in their first parliamentary elections since Russia sent troops back to the Caucasus region six years ago to crush a separatist insurgency. Moscow has touted the vote as the latest step toward restoring normalcy in the violence-wracked southern republic, but critics fear the new parliament will amount to a rubber stamp for Chechnya's Kremlin-backed governing elites. Many of the republic's 600,000 voters said they hoped the new parliament would cement stability in a region plagued by widespread unemployment, a shattered infrastructure and lingering violence between separatist rebels and Russian forces. There were 350 candidates vying for 58 seats in the two-chamber parliament, with most of Russia's main national political parties fielding contenders.

Old bomb found in Tokyo, thousands evacuated

TOKYO -- Thousands of residents were evacuated in Tokyo on Sunday while authorities dug up an unexploded 550-pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the United States during World War II, a local official said. The bomb, about 14 inches in diameter and 47 inches long, was detected earlier this month in a residential area in Tokyo's Katsushika ward by Self-Defense Force investigators, said Katsushika spokesman Takanori Kato. About 3,900 residents within a 985-feet radius of the site were evacuated for 1.5 hours while troops removed the bomb, according to Kato. Unexploded bombs from U.S. attacks or arms hidden by the Japanese during the closing days of World War II in 1945 frequently turn up in Japan. Troops defuse the bombs and often dispose of them at sea.

Congressmen injured in Iraq vehicle accident

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A military vehicle carrying three congressmen overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport, injuring two of them, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., was sent to a Baghdad hospital for evaluation, said Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., who was also in the vehicle but was not hurt. Murphy is "bumped and bruised, but in good spirits," his chief of staff, Susan Mosychuck, said Sunday. He will return home from Germany as soon as he's cleared by doctors, she said. Skelton spokeswoman Lara Battles said she believed Skelton was also doing well. She declined to comment further.

Riders trapped in gondola at Canadian ski resort

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta -- A ski gondola at Canada's famed Lake Louise resort malfunctioned on Sunday, trapping about 65 people on board as darkness fell. One of the safety switches on the Grizzly Express gondola tripped late Sunday afternoon, leaving the skiers stranded above the resort, said operations manager Rick Werner. Werner compared the malfunction to a flat tire and said officials were attempting to fix it. There was no immediate word on injuries. Eight teams of ski patrollers were working to evacuate the trapped passengers, who included children.

-- From wire reports

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