- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2007

WEST BANK

Palestinians kill two Israeli soldiers

JERUSALEM — Two off-duty Israeli soldiers hiking in the West Bank were killed yesterday by Palestinian gunmen, but before they died they managed to fire at their assailants and kill one of them, according to the military and a woman who was with the hikers but escaped unharmed.

The woman, who was not identified, told Israel Radio she and the two soldiers, who were both in their 20s, had been hiking in the hills outside the Palestinian town of Hebron when they were approached by a jeep carrying several Palestinian gunmen who fired at them.

The attack came hours after troops killed a bodyguard for the Palestinians’ chief negotiator Ahmed Qureia in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

FRANCE

Convicted workers return from Chad

PARIS — Six French aid workers sentenced to eight years hard labor in Chad for trying to kidnap 103 children arrived yesterday in France, where they are to serve their prison sentences.

France invoked a judicial cooperation treaty with its former colony to obtain the quick transfer home of the six, who were convicted of abduction by a Chadian criminal court on Wednesday.

The four men and two women from French humanitarian group Zoe’s Ark were due to be interviewed by a prosecutor before being assigned to a prison in France.

MEXICO

Electronic chips to track migrants

MEXICO CITY — Mexico plans to use cards with electronic chips to better track the movements of Central Americans who regularly cross the southern border to work or visit.

Starting in March, the National Immigration Institute will distribute the cards to record the arrival and departure of so-called temporary workers and visitors. They will replace a non-electronic pass formerly given to foreigners who cross into Mexico, which has proven “easily alterable and subject to the discretion of migration agents,” the institute said Thursday.

The U.S. government has spent tens of millions of dollars issuing similar visa cards digitally embedded with the holder’s photo and fingerprints, but U.S. border inspectors almost never check them, and vehicle lanes are not equipped with the necessary scanners to read them, the Associated Press reported.

NEPAL

Parliament votes to end monarchy

KATMANDU — Nepal’s parliament voted yesterday in favor of abolishing the centuries-old monarchy and turning the Himalayan nation into a republic.

The decision to remove the king, however, would be implemented only after elections to a special assembly expected to be held by mid-April next year.

The vote endorsed an agreement by the main political parties on abolishing the monarchy reached earlier this week. More than two-thirds of the members voted in favor of amending the interim constitution, said Speaker Subash Nembwang.

LEBANON

Presidential vote delayed again

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s presidential election was postponed to Jan. 12 from today, parliament’s speaker said yesterday. It was the 11th delay to the vote.

Rival pro- and anti-Syrian camps are still wrangling over how to share power in a future coalition government once army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman is elected as president, as expected.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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