World briefs 8/23/04

Monday, August 23, 2004

Mob sets train on fire to protest attack

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- An angry mob set fire to a passenger train and protesters clashed with police across Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving dozens of people injured, as violence spread a day after a grenade attack on an opposition rally killed 19 people and wounded hundreds. The Subarna Express train was attacked as it was entering a station in the town of Bhairab, 50 miles east of its destination of Dhaka, the capital, said a railway spokesman.

N.J. governor defends delay in resignation

TRENTON, N.J. -- In a newspaper opinion piece published Sunday, New Jersey's embattled governor says his decision not to leave office immediately because of a sex scandal was "difficult" to make but one he will not change. Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey used The New York Times to defend his Nov. 15 resignation date, which has been criticized roundly by both Republicans and members of his own party. McGreevey announced Aug. 12 he is leaving his post because he had an extramarital affair with a man.

Iran to build nuclear reactors with Russians

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran said Sunday that it plans to build a second nuclear reactor with Russia's help and that at least two other European states have expressed interest in such a project, brushing aside U.S. accusations that the Islamic state wants to build atomic weapons. Russia is building Iran's first nuclear reactor, which was begun by West Germany but interrupted during the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Fire destroys Paris Jewish community center

PARIS -- Arsonists destroyed a Jewish community center in eastern Paris before dawn on Sunday, leaving behind red graffiti with menacing anti-Semitic messages such as "Jews get out." Flames gnawed away the wooden doors and blackened the walls of the center, a meeting place for the elderly and disadvantaged located on the ground floor of a six-story building. Rescue workers said the center was gutted.

Charley victims still searching for housing

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- As people made homeless by Hurricane Charley began another week living in makeshift shelters, federal officials pledged Sunday that more substantial temporary housing was on the way but gave conflicting information about the scope of what would be available. Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dick Gifford told reporters the agency already had spaces for about 200 to 300 mobile homes at a trailer park in an undisclosed location. But an hour later, another FEMA spokesman, James McIntyre, said no such trailer park existed.-- From wire reports

Commission releases reports on terror financing, travel

WASHINGTON -- A new report from the now-defunct Sept. 11 commission details the lax controls on immigration and customs that the hijackers exploited to carry out their plot. The report, compiled by the commission's staff, says 13 of the 19 hijackers applying for visas presented passports that were less than three weeks old, yet their visa applications were met with no increased scrutiny. Two of the hijackers, the report said, lied on their applications "in detectable ways" but were not questioned about those lies. And all 19 of the hijackers' applications had data fields left blank, or were incomplete in some other way.

Al-Qaida recruiting Hondurans for attacks on U.S.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Honduras tightened security at foreign embassies and declared a national terror alert after receiving information that al-Qaida was trying to recruit Hondurans to attack embassies of the United States, Britain, Spain and El Salvador, a government official said Sunday. The heightened security was implemented three days ago after Honduras' intelligence services received reports of a plan allegedly targeting those countries' embassies here and abroad, Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said.

Halliburton awaits decision on contract payments

WASHINGTON -- After a week of flip-flops by the Army, Halliburton is waiting for a final decision on whether the military will withhold 15 percent of payments for some of its work in Iraq. The confusion over payments -- which could cost the company around $60 million -- is the latest hitch for Halliburton's multibillion-dollar work in Iraq. Various government agencies are investigating several aspects of that work, including allegations of kickbacks by Kuwaiti subcontractors and improper charges totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Details about Pakistani terror plot revealed

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Security forces hunted for more terror suspects, officials said Sunday, as Pakistan revealed it has arrested a dozen al-Qaida-linked militants planning to launch simultaneous suicide attacks on government leaders and the U.S. Embassy. Officials said the plot could have killed hundreds of people, underscoring the deadly stakes in President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's aggressive push to defeat violent extremists enraged by his support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Somalia swears in transitional parliament

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Members of a new transitional parliament were sworn in Sunday, a key step toward establishing Somalia's first national government since 1991. But a dispute within one of the country's main clans over its delegates threatened to scuttle the peace process, mediators said. The new parliament is the product of nearly two years of talks in Kenya among clan leaders, religious leaders and warlords.

-- From wire reports

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