- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Apprehensive Israelis parade for Purim

HOLON, Israel Thousands of costumed Israelis turned out yesterday for a huge, noisy parade here marking the Jewish festival of Purim, despite concerns about attacks by Palestinian militants.

Children and some adults became broom-riding witches and princesses, policemen and soldiers, devils and fairies, cats with marker-drawn whiskers. Young boys fired colorful streams of aerosol silly string at girls.

Beneath the revelry, however, there was apprehension that 17 months of fighting wouldn't stop for the festival. Security here south of Tel Aviv was tight. Some float drivers packed pistols, and police wearing black cowboy hats rode horses. Music drowned out the helicopters overhead, but it was not enough to overcome all apprehension.

Turkish coalition split on PKK transformation

ANKARA, Turkey Politicians within the ruling coalition were at loggerheads yesterday over whether the government should allow Kurdish rebels to reorganize themselves in a legal political party.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which waged a 15-year war for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey, recently began efforts to transform itself into a legal organization as part of a 1999 peace initiative.

The government, which brands the PKK a terrorist group, has played down the peace effort. But a minister from the liberal Motherland Party, the minor partner in the three-way government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, triggered debate on the issue when he said the PKK would cease to be a threat if allowed into politics.

Yesterday, state minister for customs Mehmet Kececiler told Anatolia news agency that "instead of expressing their opinions brutally by killing people, they should express their thoughts through politics." He stressed that he did not mean that separatists should be allowed to challenge the country's unity.

Nile-front rubble sifted after collapse

DAMIETTA, Egypt Rescue workers searched through the rubble of a four-story building yesterday after it collapsed and killed at least 22 persons, including brides and attendants who had been in a beauty salon preparing for weddings.

At least 25 persons were injured when the aging Nile-front building toppled Monday in Damietta, 105 miles north of Cairo, officials at a hospital there said.

All but one of those killed were women and at least two were brides. Some of victims had been in a popular women-only hairdressing salon inside the building preparing for weddings later that day, family members and witnesses said.

Weekly notes

French diplomats walked out of a hearing at Azerbaijan's parliament in Baku yesterday after a legislator used undiplomatic language about French President Jacques Chirac. Deputy Shamil Gurbanov said Mr. Chirac "had a real nerve" to recognize Turkey's genocide of Armenians while not acknowledging what Azerbaijan claims is the genocide of its people at the hands of Armenians. … As an artist, engineer and humanitarian, Col. Moammar Gadhafi's son wears many hats. This week he is in Paris as standard-bearer for improving Franco-Libyan ties. Seif al-Islam has no official role in his father's government, but the arrival of his 70-member delegation of Libyan sports, cultural and business leaders signals growing warmth between the former foes.

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