Sunday, May 5, 2002

Arab nations threaten boycott of conference

CAIRO, Egypt -- The 22 nations in the Arab League will not participate in a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference until Israel withdraws from lands it occupied during the latest violence with Palestinians, the league's secretary-general said Saturday.

The potential holdouts include moderate Egypt and hard-line Syria, both of which said separately Saturday they would not attend unless Israel withdraws from lands seized since the conflict began in September 2000.

Secretary of State Colin Powell recently announced plans for a conference, perhaps to be held next month in Europe, that would attempt to clear "the political way forward" for a Palestinian state.

It is not known who will attend, but a U.S. official has said the invitees are expected to include parties that have shown an interest in advancing the peace process.

Nepal says security forces kill 350 Maoists

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Security forces killed at least 350 guerrillas in gunbattles in western Nepal, the Defense Ministry said Saturday, in what would be the deadliest fighting in the rebels' 6-year-old campaign to oust the constitutional monarchy.

The bloodshed comes days before Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba travels to Washington to discuss the communist insurgency with President Bush. The Bush administration recently asked Congress for $20 million in military aid to Nepal.

Police arrest nine at suspected terrorist camp

MANILA, Philippines -- Police said Saturday they had raided a suspected terrorist training camp in an Islamic school and seized several weapons after arresting nine men following a clash nearby.

Police said they believed the camp was linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, but not to Abu Sayyaf, a group holding two American missionaries and a Filipino nurse hostage. They did not say why they thought the camp was linked to al-Qaida.

The fighting took place Thursday in Anda, in Pangasinan province north of Manila. A captured suspect told police about the camp and authorities found it Friday in an Islamic school in a mountainous area in neighboring Tarlac province, said Chief Supt. Reynaldo Berroya.

Tests reveal mad cow disease in Poland

WARSAW, Poland -- Tests have confirmed the first case of mad cow disease in Poland, the country's chief veterinarian said Saturday.

Piotr Kolodziej said meat from the nine-year-old cow was barred from the market after tests by veterinarians in Krakow and Pulawy confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

"Consumers are safe," Kolodziej told Private Radio Zet. "We test all animals over 30 months of age."

Veterinary services across the country have been put on alert, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Iranian hard-line court closes two newspapers

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian court on Saturday banned two reformist newspapers, one of which was criticized by some religious leaders for an article they deemed blasphemous, state-run media and journalists at the papers said.

The Farsi-language dailies Iran and Bonyan were ordered by the hard-line press court to stop publishing, according to the editors and state-run TV.

The paper Iran, which is owned by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, published an article last week saying that Islam's Prophet Muhammad enjoyed listening to women sing and play music.

--From wire reports

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