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World Scene

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2008

INDIA

Curfew in Jaipur after deadly blasts

JAIPUR — Authorities imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew in parts of India's historic western city of Jaipur yesterday, a day after eight bombs ripped through bustling streets, killing 63 people and injuring 216.

Police yesterday arrested two men in connection with the blasts, Rajasthan state's chief minister said.

"We have arrested two people and have detained several [more] people for questioning," Vasundhara Raje told a press conference.

Bombs, many strapped to bicycles, exploded by a main temple and markets inside the pink-walled city.

Toward sunset, as the curfew ended, a handful of shops reopened.

PAKISTAN

Zardari rules out split with Sharif

ISLAMABAD — The head of Pakistan's main ruling party said yesterday that he was not contemplating a split with the key partner in the country's troubled coalition government.

Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, said he would continue working with the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif despite recent disagreements.

Nine ministers from Mr. Sharif's party submitted their resignations Tuesday after talks failed between the two main coalition partners on reinstating judges fired by common rival President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Zardari said he was still committed to restoring the judges and negotiations would continue.

PAKISTAN

NATO eyes security on Afghan border

BRUSSELS — NATO urged Pakistan yesterday to improve security on its border with Afghanistan after a rise in cross-border attacks by Taliban fighters and al Qaeda militants.

"The number of attacks is up significantly from the same period last year," said the alliance's chief spokesman, James Appathurai. "There is not enough effectiveness in border control on Pakistan's side."

"The concerns have been communicated to Pakistan," he told reporters.

He said the level of attacks from across the border — where Taliban fighters and al Qaeda militants control some of their operations — climbed to a high in April close to figures recorded during peak fighting last summer.

FRANCE

7 men convicted on terror charges

PARIS — A Parisian street preacher, a French youth who lost a forearm and an eye in Iraq, a pizza-delivery man who once considered jihad and four others were convicted in Paris yesterday on terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency.

The seven men — five Frenchmen, an Algerian and a Moroccan, all between 24 and 40 years old — were sentenced to between 18 months and seven years in prison. They were convicted of "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," a broad charge that carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

Most acknowledged going to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 or planning to go, but all denied accusations that they were involved in a cell recruiting French fighters for Iraq's insurgency.

The judge, however, found ample evidence for convictions.

DENMARK

Government in row over head scarves

COPENHAGEN — Denmark's government said yesterday it will prepare legislation that would bar judges from wearing Islamic head scarves and religious symbols in court.

Although the law would also ban crucifixes, Jewish skullcaps, and turbans, it highlights ongoing debate over Islamic traditions in Denmark, an issue that gained world attention in 2006 when Danish caricatures of the prophet Muhammad triggered violent protests in Muslim countries.

Although there are no known cases of a judge in Denmark wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf known as a hijab, Justice Minister Lene Espersen said the law was needed because judges "must appear neutral and impartial" in court.

The new legislation has created a rift in Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's government.

From wire dispatches and staff reports