World briefs 3/22/04

Monday, March 22, 2004

Al-Zawahri: terrorists bought nuclear bombs

SYDNEY, Australia -- Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader was quoted as telling an Australian television station. In an interview scheduled to be televised today, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed that "smart briefcase bombs" were available on the black market. It was not clear when the interview between Mir and al-Zawahri took place.

Attacks kill two U.S. soldiers, two civilians

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Rebels killed two U.S. soldiers in a rocket attack in western Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday, and two Iraqi civilians died and one American soldier was injured in a rocket attack on U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad. A 1st Infantry Division soldier also was killed Sunday in an apparent accident during a weapons firing exercise in Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, Army spokeswoman Maj. Debra Stewart said.

Malaysian government wins over Islamic party

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysians gave their secular prime minister a huge election victory on Sunday, smashing a fundamentalist Muslim party that had wanted to impose an Islamic state in the Southeast Asian country. The results were seen as a personal endorsement for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose low-key style has proved a sharp contrast to his combative predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad. Many voters -- especially the Chinese and Indian minorities -- had feared Islamic fundamentalism was on the rise in Malaysia, a country that has detained scores of suspected terrorists in the past two years, some linked to al-Qaida.

Elders negotiate Pakistan militants' surrender

WANA, Pakistan -- Fighting between Pakistani troops and suspected al-Qaida militants ebbed Sunday as tribal elders said they would try to negotiate an end to the largest battle yet against suspected terrorists along the Afghan frontier. A 25-member council is to begin talks with the militants Monday morning under the protection of a white flag, said Brig. Mahmood Shah, chief of security for the tribal area in South Waziristan province. Pakistani forces took advantage of Sunday's pause in fighting to search nearby homes.

U.S. Marines injure two men in Haiti's capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- U.S. Marines shot and wounded two men who failed to stop at a checkpoint in Haiti's volatile capital, a military spokesman said Sunday. The shooting occurred late Saturday in the Pont Morin residential neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, half an hour after the 10 p.m. curfew, Maj. Richard Crusan told The Associated Press. The Marines were patrolling the area when two men in an all-terrain vehicle slowly drove past a checkpoint and ignored orders to stop, Crusan said.

-- From wire reports

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