- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2003

ALGERIA

Two top leaders of Islamist party freed

ALGIERS — Two leaders of an outlawed Islamist party, which nearly rose to power in Algeria more than a decade ago, were freed yesterday after serving 12 years in prison.

Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj, who headed the Islamic Salvation Front, were banned from political activity as a condition of release.



The Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win the 1992 parliamentary election when the army seized control. Mr. Madani, 72, and Mr. Belhadj, 47, were arrested in 1991 after the party led a strike that nearly stymied authorities.

SAUDI ARABIA

Suspected militant held in suicide bombing

JIDDA — Police captured a suspected militant linked to suicide bombings in the Saudi capital, just days after he shot a police officer while eluding arrest, a security official said yesterday.

The arrest came amid a nationwide sweep that has nabbed at least 125 persons since May 12 attacks blamed on al Qaeda that killed 25 persons. Police in bulletproof vests now man checkpoints in major cities, keeping watch from behind machine guns.

Zafer Abdul Rahman al-Shihri was arrested Tuesday night in an abandoned house in the southern province of al-Namas, an Interior Ministry official said. He had eluded police Saturday, wounding an officer. On Sunday, a state helicopter crashed while chasing al-Shihri, injuring 10 soldiers on board.

CANADA

WHO removes Toronto from SARS watch list

GENEVA — The World Health Organization removed Toronto from its list of SARS-infected areas yesterday, saying Canada’s largest city had contained the virus.

The decision means only Taiwan remains on the list of countries reporting transmissions in the past 20 days. It, too, will likely be removed Saturday if it reports no new cases.

Toronto had the largest SARS outbreak outside of Asia, with 39 deaths and almost 250 cases.

HONG KONG

Lawmakers oppose antisubversion law

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s government should reconsider its antisubversion bill because of public fears that civil liberties will be taken away, pro-democracy lawmakers said yesterday, a day after a half-million people marched against the proposal.

Twenty-one lawmakers from the Legislative Council signed a letter to Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa asking that he stop the bill from moving forward and consult more openly with the public. They also want to meet with Mr. Tung, lawmaker Cyd Ho said.

SINGAPORE

Conjoined twins, 29, to risk life in surgery

SINGAPORE — Two conjoined, adult Iranian sisters undergo an unprecedented operation in Singapore on Sunday to separate them at the head, raising the ethical question of high-risk surgery when a life is not at risk.

Law graduates Ladan and Laleh Bijani, 29, will be seated for an operation expected to last at least 48 hours, Raffles Hospital said Tuesday. Both have said they are willing to take the slim chance of success for the opportunity to lead separate lives.

Twins joined at the head occur only once in every 2 million live births, and successful separation is even rarer. Singaporean doctors performed the operation in 2001 on infant girls from Nepal, but experts say an operation on adults is unprecedented.

GERMANY

Teen shoots counselor, kills self in high school

COBURG — A 16-year-old student with a pistol and a revolver opened fire in his classroom yesterday, wounding a school psychologist and fatally shooting himself.

Two students were slightly injured in the rush to flee the public school in this Bavarian town about 145 miles north of Munich about 9 a.m., state police said. One student jumped from a first-floor window but was not hurt.

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