- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

ISRAEL

11 hurt as missiles target militants

GAZA CITY — An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at a car carrying militants from the group Hamas late yesterday, wounding at least 11 persons.

The strike undermines an informal arrangement in which Israel avoided trying to kill Hamas militants as long as the group halted attacks on civilians inside Israel.

Witnesses said the Fiat with the militants had been traveling toward the Sheik Radwan neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold, when Apache helicopters opened fire, wounding one passenger and 10 bystanders.

TAIWAN

Referendum on China signed into law

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), formally signed a contentious referendum bill into law today, paving the way for the island to hold a public vote calling on China to dismantle missiles next March.

Tension between Taiwan and China, which views the island as a breakaway province, has been simmering since November when the Taiwan parliament passed the bill. The United States weighed in with a warning against holding one, but an adamant Mr. Chen signed it into law anyway.

“Today is a historic day because the referendum bill finally completes the lawmaking process and is signed into law,” Mr. Chen said in a brief statement issued by the Office of the President.

SAUDI ARABIA

Top al Qaeda suspect surrenders to police

RIYADH — One of Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted Islamist militants, sought in connection with deadly suicide bombings, surrendered to police yesterday, state media reported.

An Interior Ministry statement carried by state media said Mansour bin Muhammad Ahmad Faqih, who was on a list of 26 wanted militants suspected of links to terror network al Qaeda, surrendered to authorities and later was visited by his family.

Saudi Arabia has promised to strike with an “iron fist” against those behind the bombings that killed more than 50 people, including nine Americans, in May and November.

The surrender came a day after a small bomb exploded in Riyadh in a parked car, an attack that sources said appeared to have been an assassination attempt on a security-forces officer.


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