World digest 03/22/05

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Opposition takes control of city in Kyrgyzstan

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Thousands of protesters overran Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city Monday, forcing police to flee as the government lost control of the impoverished southern region of the former Soviet republic. Demonstrators in Osh burned and stomped on portraits of President Askar Akayev and seized control of the airport. The army did not intervene, and no casualties were reported. The opposition occupied government buildings in five cities and towns across southern Kyrgyzstan, Interior Ministry spokesman Nurdin Jangarayev said. The capital, Bishkek, which is cut off from the south in winter by a high mountain range, remained calm, but the emboldened opposition vowed to press on until Akayev resigns because of allegations of vote-rigging.

Israel, Palestinians agree on town's handover

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israeli and Palestinian security officers agreed Monday on terms for handing over the West Bank town of Tulkarem to Palestinian control, and a Palestinian official said preparations for a handover today would begin immediately. Tulkarem will be the second West Bank town transferred to Palestinian security control in recent weeks. Jericho was transferred last week.

Kentucky unit kills 26 insurgents after ambush

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. soldiers, ambushed by dozens of Iraqi militants near the infamous "Triangle of Death," responded by killing 26 guerrillas in the largest single insurgent death toll since last fall's battle for Fallujah, the U.S. military said Monday. The high number of deaths in Sunday's daylight battle south of Baghdad was attributed to the large number of attackers, unusual in a country where most clashes are carried out by small bands of gunmen or suicide bombers. The U.S. military said MPs and artillery units from the Kentucky National Guard were traveling along a road 20 miles southeast of Baghdad around noon when 40 to 50 militants emerged from a grove of trees and a roadside canal firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Unless the laws change, expect Queen Camilla

LONDON -- In the latest twist in a royal wedding saga that has been full of flip-flops, the British government revealed Monday that like it or not, Britons will have to get used to Queen Camilla. That's because Camilla Parker Bowles will, by law, automatically become queen when Charles is crowned. While the public has come around to supporting the marriage, opinion polls still show strong opposition to Parker Bowles taking the title of queen. But any attempt to change the rules to bow to popular sentiment would be exceedingly difficult: It would require not only a new law in Britain, but also legislative changes in 15 nations of the Commonwealth. Announcing his wedding plans last month, Charles said his future wife would be known by the lesser title of Princess Consort when and if he becomes king.

Iceland grants citizenship for chess star Fischer

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Iceland, the country where Bobby Fischer won the world chess championship a generation ago, granted citizenship to the 62-year-old recluse Monday -- a boost to Fischer's efforts to fight deportation from Japan to the United States. Fischer, who is wanted by the United States for violating economic sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by playing a highly publicized match there in 1992, has been in Japanese custody since July 13. He was detained while trying to board a flight with an invalid passport. Immigration officials in Iceland said a passport for Fischer could be ready as early as today. The Japanese government had no immediate official reaction.

Anti-Syria opposition in Lebanon softens tone

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Seeking a way out of political deadlock, the anti-Syrian opposition softened its tone Monday and urged Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami to form a new government to ensure parliamentary elections are held on time. Opposition leader Walid Jumblatt shelved for now his demand that pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud step down immediately. But a waterborne demonstration Monday showed the opposition's rank-and-file have not give up their demands for Lahoud to resign. About 200 opposition supporters staged a protest in some 50 speedboats and yachts in the St. Georges Hotel marina.

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