RAMALLAH — Yasser Arafat’s political heirs on Tuesday opened his grave, and foreign specialists took samples of the iconic Palestinian leader’s remains as part of a long-shot attempt — eight years after his mysterious death — to determine whether he was poisoned.
Arafat died in November 2004 at a French military hospital, a month after suddenly falling ill at his West Bank compound, at the time besieged by Israeli troops.
The immediate cause of death was a stroke, but the underlying reasons were unclear, leading to widespread belief in the Arab world that Israel poisoned the 75-year-old symbol of Palestinian nationalism. Israel has denied involvement in Arafat’s death.
A probe was revived this past summer, when a Swiss lab detected elevated traces of a lethal radioactive substance, polonium-210, in biological stains on his clothing. The lab said the tests were inconclusive and that it needed to examine the remains.
Chavez to return to Cuba for cancer treatment
CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez plans to return to Cuba to continue treatment for cancer, the president of the National Assembly said Tuesday.
Mr. Chavez, who was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011, asked the legislature to authorize his absence Tuesday to travel to Cuba, Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Rebels refuse to leave key eastern city
GOMA — Congo’s M23 rebels defied a deadline imposed by neighboring nations Tuesday, saying they will stay in the eastern city of Goma and will fight the Congolese army to hold it.
Congo’s military spokesman Col. Olivier Hamuli called it “a declaration of war,” and said the army will resume combat, although he declined to say when.
Highlighting the volatility of the situation, a different rebel group based in Congo, known as the FDLR, crossed into neighboring Rwanda and attacked Rwandan army positions, according to villagers, eyewitnesses and Rwanda’s military spokesman.
The actions raised the possibility that Congo was directly retaliating against Rwanda, its much-smaller but more affluent neighbor, which has twice gone to war with Congo and which now is believed to be directing the M23 rebellion.