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KAMPALA | Police dragged opposition leader Kizza Besigye from his car at gunpoint and threw him into a pickup truck, during a fifth round of protests against high food and fuel prices.

Mr. Besigye later appeared in court, slumped forward in his chair, his ear bandaged and eyes covered with tissues. Plainclothes police had repeatedly sprayed him with pepper gas as they forced him from his car.

Mr. Besigye’s attorney, David Mpanga, said he was unable to make a plea because he could neither open his eyes nor talk. The judge adjourned the case until May 2 and released him on bail.

The arrest was the fourth in three weeks for Mr. Besigye, runner-up to veteran President Yoweri Museveni in a disputed February election.

BELGIUM

Belgium moves closer to banning burqas

BRUSSELS | Belgium has taken a major step toward banning burqa-type Islamic dress in public Thursday, when its lower house of parliament overwhelmingly backed the measure.

After Thursday’s approval, the Senate still has several weeks to decide whether to put the bill up for further discussion and another vote.

The Belgian legislature already came close to approving such legislation last year, but the process was held up at the last moment when the governing coalition collapsed.

On Thursday, the bill was approved by an overwhelming majority of 136-1 and two abstentions.

A similar ban went into effect in France earlier this month.

CUBA

Fidel Castro backs Gadhafi, slams NATO campaign

HAVANA | Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro praised Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday and warned that the NATO bombing in Libya is “fanning a flame that can burn everyone.”

If the Libyan dictator withstands the NATO-led bombardment, he will “go down in history as one of the great figures of the Arab world,” Mr. Castro said in a newspaper column in the state-run media.

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