Up to 120 girls defy French head scarf ban
PARIS -- Some 100 to 120 girls have defied France's ban on Islamic head scarves in school, the education minister said Wednesday, and at least five boys from the country's tiny Sikh community have been barred from class for refusing to remove their turbans. The defiant girls are in talks with school officials trying to persuade them to remove the head coverings, said Education Minister Francois Fillon.
Fire at Turkish copper mine kills 19, injures 17
ANKARA, Turkey -- A fire raged through a copper mine in northern Turkey on Wednesday, killing 19 workers and injuring 17 others. Rescuers were searching the smoke-clogged shafts to make sure no one was left inside. The miners were trapped nearly 500 feet beneath the surface when the blaze broke out Wednesday morning in the mine in Kure.
South African nuclear charges dropped
VANDERBIJLPARK, South Africa -- Prosecutors dropped all charges without explanation Wednesday against the head of a South African engineering company accused of trafficking in nuclear-related equipment. Johan Meyer, 53, was arrested last week at his Tradefin Engineering company in Vanderbijlpark and charged with violating South Africa's Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and Nuclear Energy Act. He was accused of helping to supply equipment to Libya.
U.S. resolution calls for larger force in Darfur
UNITED NATIONS -- The United States circulated a draft resolution Wednesday supporting a larger monitoring force for Sudan's Darfur region and threatening action against the country's oil exports if the government doesn't stop militias from attacking villagers. The draft says the Sudanese government "has failed fully to comply with its commitments" to the United Nations to rein in Arab militias accused of attacking, raping and killing villagers in western Darfur and to provide security for over 1.2 million people who fled their homes.
China cleans up from floods; more rain on way
BEIJING -- China warned residents in a southwestern province Wednesday to brace for another round of storms after devastating floods and landslides killed at least 172 people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated and more than 300,000 homes were damaged across the Sichuan and Chong-qing regions, Xinhua said. At least 97 died in Sichuan Province and 75 in Chongqing, a sprawling municipality to the east.
Sharon to move barrier closer to Israel
JERUSALEM -- The separation barrier in the West Bank will move closer to Israel in one area to minimize hardship to Palestinians, leaving three small Jewish settlements on the Palestinian side, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Wednesday. Sharon's decision came during a meeting with defense officials, who presented a revised route for parts of the barrier, in line with an Israeli Supreme Court directive that planners must try harder not to disrupt the lives of Palestinians.
-- From wire reports