- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

VATICAN CITY

Pope warns world of terrorism, nihilism

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI warned yesterday that terrorism, nihilism and “fanatic fundamentalism” threatened world peace, and he called on people, governments and institutions to work together to combat them.

Benedict made the appeal during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark New Year’s Day, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates annually as its World Day of Peace.

After the Mass, tens of thousands of people standing under a carnopy of umbrellas to guard against a downpour jammed the piazza to hear Benedict issue New Year’s Day greetings in a half-dozen languages from his apartment window.

INDONESIA

Police search for terrorist bombers

PALU — Authorities searched yesterday for the suspected Islamist militants who set off a bomb at a Christian market in central Indonesia, killing seven persons and underscoring the ongoing battle against terrorism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Police spokesman Rais Adam said officers were questioning two persons detained near the scene of the blast in Palu on Sulawesi Island, but stressed the pair had not been charged.

The explosion sent nails and ball bearings tearing into vendors and shoppers at the market, which was packed with people buying pork for New Year’s celebrations.

Authorities initially said eight persons were killed and 45 injured in the attack, but they revised the death toll to seven yesterday, said Anton Bachrul Alam, national police spokesman.

SYRIA

Ba’ath Party ousts whistleblower

DAMASCUS — Syria’s ruling Ba’ath Party stripped former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam of membership and joined parliament in demanding his trial on a charge of high treason, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported yesterday.

The move came two days after Mr. Khaddam said in a television interview from Paris that Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri months before Mr. Hariri was assassinated in a Feb. 14 bombing.

“Khaddam has joined the band of enemies who are targeting the country and its attitudes,” the Ba’ath Party said.

ISRAEL

Doctors to fix hole in Sharon’s heart

JERUSALEM — Doctors this week will seal the small hole in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s heart that apparently led to the Israeli leader’s recent stroke, Mr. Sharon’s office said yesterday.

The procedure, known as a cardiac catheterization, will be performed Thursday.

The hole was discovered after Mr. Sharon’s Dec. 18 stroke. The hole in the partition between the upper chambers of Mr. Sharon’s heart measures less than an inch and is a congenital defect found in 15 percent to 20 percent of the population, doctors said.

It apparently led to the blood clot that caused his stroke, and sealing it will virtually eliminate the risk of another stroke of this type, doctors said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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