World briefs 11/23/03

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Lithuanian protesters demand president resign

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Thousands of protesters rallied near President Rolandas Paksas' office in Vilnius on Saturday, demanding his resignation amid allegations that he has ties with a businessman involved with organized crime. Police surrounded Daukantas Square before the rally and searched protesters. A parliamentary commission was established to investigate alleged presidential ties with organized crime. The commission asked Paksas to testify last week, but he refused to appear. He had testified before prosecutors last week.

Five Pakistanis freed from Guantanamo Bay

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Five Pakistani prisoners arrived home Saturday after being freed by American authorities from the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials said. The men were captured in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led campaign to oust the Taliban in late 2001, and were later shifted to Guantanamo Bay to investigate their suspected links to al-Qaida, an Interior Ministry official said. The official said the men will remain in Pakistani custody for a few days before being allowed to go free. He said efforts are under way to release of the remaining Pakistani prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Rocket damages Kabul hotel housing foreigners

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A powerful rocket exploded near one of Kabul's few upscale hotels on Saturday night, knocking some guests from their restaurant chairs and shattering windows across the lobby and in many bedrooms. No injuries were reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack, has raised concerns about security in Kabul, where rocket and mortar attacks have been fairly rare since the fall of the Taliban regime two years ago.

Turkish officials arrest suspects in bombings

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Before a crowd mourning for slain policemen, Turkey's prime minister vowed Saturday to hunt down any accomplices of the Turkish militants who carried out a string of sophisticated suicide bombings that killed 57 people and injured hundreds. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish security forces and police had made rapid progress in the investigation into the attacks that shook Turkey over the past week, identifying some of the Turks who executed the strikes. At least three groups with purported links to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attacks.

-- From wire reports

Bombings on Thursday hit the British Consulate and a London-based bank, killing 30 victims and two suicide bombers. Five days earlier, suicide bombers hit two synagogues, killing 23 victims and two bombers.

Israeli guards killed near disputed fence in West Bank

JERUSALEM-- Gunmen shot and killed two Israeli security guards Saturday at a construction site for the disputed barrier that Israel is erecting along its frontier with the West Bank. The incident occurred hours after Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, after a stone-throwing clash in the West Bank escalated into a gun battle with militants. The new bloodshed came as efforts were under way to craft a cease-fire deal and restart frozen peace talks. The Jenin Martyrs Brigade, a militant group believed to be linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the shooting in a statement faxed to news media.

-- From wire reports

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