World briefs 4/6/04

Powell urges Haitians not to reward criminals

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday was urging Haiti's leaders to make sure government posts are not given to leaders of the February insurrection who are criminals or human rights violators. That was the message Powell intended relay to Prime Minister Gerard LaTortue and others during a visit of several hours. Powell was met at the capital's international airport by U.S. Ambassador James Foley and LaTortue's foreign minister, Yvon Simeon.

Sharon: Withdrawal plan is blow to Palestinians

JERUSALEM -- A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements could delay Palestinian dreams of statehood for many years, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in interviews Monday. Israel also is no longer bound by a pledge to the United States not to harm Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Sharon said. The White House said killing Arafat was "not part of the solution to the situation in the Middle East."

Afghan farmers protest opium crop destruction

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Hundreds of farmers demonstrated in eastern Afghanistan on Monday against a government plan to destroy fields of opium poppies in an effort to crack down on rampant drug production, police said. About 300 farmers gathered peacefully near the town of Kama in Nangarhar province, a poppy-growing region about 90 miles east of Kabul, said Ajab Shah, a senior provincial police official.

Taiwanese opposition files to nullify election

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's opposition asked the High Court on Monday to nullify last month's presidential election. President Chen Shui-bian urged rival China to begin talking to him and accept that there's a rising "Taiwan identity." The opposition request for a new election was issued about a week after the losing candidate, Lien Chan of the Nationalist Party, petitioned for a recount of the March 20 vote. Lien claims the election was marred by irregularities and the unexplained shooting of Chen, who narrowly won the race.

French police conduct raid for bombing suspects

PARIS -- Authorities detained 13 suspected militants, including one about to flee the country, in a dawn raid Monday stemming from deadly terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Morocco, police said. Agents raided eight locations in search of suspects connected to last year's bombings in Casablanca, police sources said. Morocco had issued arrest warrants for three of the suspects.

Spain makes another arrest in Madrid bombings

MADRID, Spain -- Authorities announced another arrest in the Madrid terror bombings Monday and sent police to patrol subway and bus stations, as a newspaper said a group linked to al-Qaida threatened to turn Spain into "an inferno." Court officials said the arrest came Saturday in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. No details were given on the man's identity or possible role in the March 11 train attacks, which killed 191 people. Another suspect whose weekend arrest was also announced Monday has been released after questioning, officials said.

Rain, flash flood sweeps through northern Mexico

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico -- Torrential rains swelled a tributary of the Rio Grande River by 25 feet early Monday, causing a flash flood that inundated a Mexican border city, killing at least 29 people and forcing hundreds more into shelters. At least 75 more people were missing; the death toll was expected to rise. Mexico declared a state of emergency in the area.

-- From wire reports