World digest 04/28/04

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Syrian security clashes with 'terrorist band'

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Gunmen attacked a former United Nations office in a diplomatic quarter of Damascus on Tuesday, setting off a battle with police that pelted nearby buildings with bullets and grenades. The fighting killed two attackers, a policeman and a civilian, the government said. Syria's ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, said it was too early to know the motivation of the attackers or whether they were Islamist. Syria's official news agency SANA, quoting a security source, called the attackers "a terrorist band."

Saudis hunt for militant suspects near Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Convoys of police vehicles headed into a mountainous area northeast of Riyadh Tuesday to join a hunt for terror suspects, possibly including the chief of al-Qaida's Saudi network. Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin, the kingdom's most wanted militant, is believed holed up with four to five other suspects near al-Hassayah, 30 miles from Riyadh.

Aid groups plea for more help for North Korea

BEIJING -- Victims of a North Korean train explosion, their skin charred and faces blackened by chemical burns, are wasting away in hospitals with little medicine, aid workers said Tuesday in a plea for more help. But North Korea rejected doctors from rival South Korea, the Seoul government said. The North said it would, however, accept cement and diesel fuel from South Korea, and estimated property damage at $356 million in the city of Ryongchon. The North's damage estimate is far above what donors have promised, fueling speculation that Pyongyang is trying to gain as much aid as possible.

Indonesian island sees third day of bloodshed

AMBON, Indonesia -- Snipers spread terror across this provincial capital Tuesday in a third day of bloodshed that intensified fears the region could plunge back into a Muslim-Christian war that killed 9,000 people three years ago. Gunmen killed two paramilitary police officers and critically wounded a third. A Muslim man later was incinerated by a bomb explosion, bringing the death toll since Sunday to 24. Community leaders in Ambon urged calm. The latest round of violence erupted Sunday after members of the region's small, largely Christian, separatist movement rallied in the city center. Muslims assaulted the demonstrators, touching off sectarian clashes.

U.S.: Iran may be running parallel nuclear programs

VIENNA, Austria -- Iran may be running a covert military nuclear program parallel to the peaceful one it has opened to international scrutiny, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said new intelligence on Iran's nuclear activities was strengthening suspicions of two programs -- one that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have access to and another run by the military and geared toward making nuclear weapons. One official said that the "limited evidence" was not enough to draw firm conclusions.

Militants clash with Thai police; dozens killed

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Suspected Islamic militants clashed with police in Thailand today, leaving at least 70 people dead in the heaviest fighting yet in the troubled Muslim-dominated south, officials said. The clashes erupted after militants launched simultaneous attacks on police bases and checkpoints in several districts, said Yala Gov. Boonyasit Suwanarat. He told reporters that most of the dead were young men attempting to rob weapons from police and army bases.

-- From wire reports

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