World briefs 12/30/03

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

European scientists think Mars probe is in crater

LONDON -- Scientists trying to find Europe's Beagle 2 Mars probe ruled out weather problems and a faulty onboard clock for its five-day silence, but considered a new possibility Monday -- a crater that may be blocking its signal. A new, detailed picture of the area of Mars where the Beagle 2 is believed to have landed revealed a crater a little more than a half-mile wide. It is possible -- although unlikely -- that the Beagle may be unable to communicate because it landed inside, chief Beagle scientist Colin Pillinger said at a news conference.

Gunmen kill Vatican envoy to Burundi

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Gunmen killed the pope's ambassador in Burundi on Monday, firing on his car as he was returning from a funeral, and the country's president said the envoy was deliberately targeted. Archbishop Michael Courtney was shot in the head, shoulder and a limb and died during surgery at Prince Louis Rwagasore Hospital, a hospital official said. The shooting took place in an area about 30 miles south of the capital, Bujumbura, on Lake Tanganyika that is a stronghold of rebels of the National Liberation Forces, or FLN, the only group that has not signed a peace deal with the transitional government.

Tikrit Sunni elders form reconciliation committee

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Influential spiritual leaders from Saddam Hussein's hometown -- a bastion of anti-American sentiment -- are joining forces to persuade Iraqis to abandon the violent insurgency, one of the leaders said Monday. The effort marks a new, open willingness to cooperate with U.S. forces -- a shift in the thinking of at least some key members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which lost political dominance with the fall of Saddam and has largely formed the opposition to the U.S. occupation.

-- From wire reports

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