World briefs 11/11/04

Dutch grappling with wave of ethnic violence

UDEN, Netherlands -- The brazen daylight murder of a filmmaker who criticized Islamic fundamentalism has shattered Holland's fabled tranquility. A wave of attacks on mosques and churches -- and a firebombing at a Muslim elementary school -- is raising troubling questions about Dutch society's relations with a large and increasingly restive Muslim minority. The school was the 14th Muslim building attacked by arsonists, bombers or graffiti sprayers in five days.

Singer Cat Stevens gets peace prize in Rome

ROME -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev honored the singer once known as Cat Stevens with a peace prize on Wednesday, praising him for charity work and for standing by his convictions despite personal hardships. Yusuf Islam was awarded the "Man for Peace" prize in Rome at the opening of a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He last made headlines in September, when he turned up on Washington's no-fly list for having suspected ties to terrorists -- a claim he has strongly denied.

Israeli troops kill two gunmen in Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM -- Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen Wednesday after coming under attack in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. The two gunmen attacked an army post near the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun with gunfire and hand grenades before being killed by the soldiers, the army said. Military officials said the army had the bodies of the two men. Earlier Wednesday, sailors on a naval patrol boat killed a Palestinian swimming in a no-go zone off the coast of a Jewish settlement.

Kidnappers claim deal close on U.N. hostages

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban-linked militants holding three U.N. hostages claimed Wednesday the Afghan government has agreed to free some of their jailed comrades to prevent the killing of the foreign captives. Afghan state television reported that President Hamid Karzai had decreed the release of prisoners for Eid, the end of the Muslim fasting month, expected on Sunday. But there was no indication the release would cover any inmates identified by the hostage-takers.

-- From wire reports

Ukrainian opposition edges prime minister in presidential vote

KIEV, Ukraine -- Opposition reformer Viktor Yushchenko barely edged out the pro-Kremlin candidate in the first round of Ukraine's presidential vote, setting up a runoff later this month for the leadership of the former Soviet republic, official results showed Wednesday. Yushchenko won 39.87 percent of the vote, half a percentage point ahead of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in the Oct. 31 balloting, the Central Elections Commission announced Wednesday after a delayed final tally.

European police forge closer ties to fight crime

LONDON -- Jolted by the carnage of the Madrid train bombings and the cross-border rape and killing spree of a French pedophile, EU states are coming together on an ambitious new vision for policing Europe. It involves joint investigation teams and the sharing of hitherto jealously guarded criminal records and crime-fighting technology. While authorities still rule out a federal police force -- a European version of the FBI -- recent strides in cooperation have been significant: The EU has appointed an anti-terrorism czar and adopted a long-delayed European arrest warrant, which speeds up the extradition of suspects. Critics, however, say efficient police cooperation is hampered by differences in law, methodology, and organization -- not to mention national rivalries.

-- From wire reports