World briefs 11/24/03

Pro-Western government ousted in Croatia election

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Nationalists who led Croatia to independence in 1991 appeared poised to return to power Sunday after partial results from parliamentary elections showed them ousting the current pro-Western government. The next government could fulfill Croats' decade-long desire to bring the former Yugoslav republic of 4.5 million people into the European Union -- perhaps as early as 2007 -- if it continues the democratic and economic reforms launched over the past few years.

Soldiers, protesters face off at Defense Ministry

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A demonstration by about 1,000 former army officers and other Defense Ministry personnel demanding back pay turned violent on Sunday, with protesters shooting out windows at the ministry building and soldiers firing into the crowd. At least four people were hurt.

Iraqi-American woman to become Iraqi ambassador

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's Governing Council has chosen an Iraqi-American woman and veteran lobbyist as its ambassador to the United States, a council spokeswoman said Sunday. The appointment of Rend Rahim Francke, who led the Iraq Foundation, a Washington-based pro-democracy group, and has helped in post-Saddam Hussein planning, will renew diplomatic ties between Washington and Baghdad 13 years after they were severed in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Israel approves release of 10 Jordanian prisoners

JERUSALEM -- Israel's Cabinet decided Sunday to release 10 Jordanian prisoners in a gesture marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The decision comes as Germans mediate intense talks between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah to obtain the release of an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in October 2000.

Mauritanian leader cracks down on anti-U.S. actions

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- President Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Taya is doing his utmost to be a loyal ally in the war on terrorism: He has jailed Muslim clerics for speaking against the war in Iraq, banned political sermons and outlawed anti-U.S. rallies. He has also cracked down on mosques allegedly recruiting fighters for Iraq, shuttered some foreign-funded Quran schools and expelled some foreign Islamic aid workers.

-- From wire reports