- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 17, 2003


Island’s SARS toll rises while down elsewhere

TAIPEI — Taiwan saw its biggest increase yet in SARS cases yesterday, one day after the health minister resigned to take responsibility for the deepening crisis.

Meanwhile, Singapore hoped its outbreak would be declared over as early as today. In Canada the government devised a $176 million public relations campaign to lure travelers to Toronto after an outbreak scared away visitors.

The 34 new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Taiwan were the biggest one-day increase since the disease hit the capital two months ago, then spread to the south of the island. SARS is accelerating in Taiwan, although new infections are declining elsewhere.


Kurdish guerrilla group to end armed struggle

TUNCELI, Turkey — A Kurdish guerrilla group based in northern Iraq said yesterday that it is ready to work peacefully alongside the United States to help build a democratic Iraq.

The Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party, closely linked to the Kurdish rebels that neighboring Turkey has fought for decades, said it is abandoning the armed struggle and that it “will work jointly with the United States and democratic forces.”

However, the group’s close links to Kurdish rebels that both Turkey and the United States class as “terrorist” are likely to complicate any cooperation the group may seek with U.S. forces.


Aid-pact bid is dropped in face of EU rebuff

HAVANA — Amid world criticism for locking up dissidents, Cuba’s communist government withdrew Friday a second request to join a European Union aid and preferential trade agreement for former colonies, European diplomats said.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry summoned the European Commission delegation’s charge d’affaires in Havana, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, Friday afternoon to inform him that Havana was canceling its application, they said.

Cuba applied in January to join the Cotonou Agreement, which would have tripled European aid to Cuba’s battered socialist economy. But the European Commission shelved the request indefinitely after Cuba sentenced 75 dissidents in April to prison terms of as long as 28 years.


Islamic militant is shot in refugee-camp ambush

AIN EL-HILWEH, Lebanon — A radical Islamic leader in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp was shot in an ambush as he drove home from a funeral yesterday, sparking a gunbattle that sent mourners fleeing, witnesses said.

Camp security sources said Abdullah Shreidi, an arch-foe of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, was critically wounded in the attack, with gunshot wounds to his head, back and chest. Two other persons were killed.

Mr. Shreidi is the son of the late founder of Osbat al-Ansar, a militant group on Washington’s list of terrorist organizations suspected of links to al Qaeda. The sources could not immediately identify Mr. Shreidi’s attackers.


At least 28 dead in German bus accident

LYON, France — A sleek, double-decker German tour bus crashed through a guardrail on a rain-swept French highway, plunged down an embankment and flipped onto its roof early yesterday, killing at least 28 of the 74 persons on board.

At least six of the injured were in serious condition, said Col. Serge Delaigue, the regional director of fire rescue services. The bus carried 72 passengers and two drivers.

Nearly everyone on board was believed to be German, with some passengers having won the trip as a contest prize. The bus had taken on passengers in Cologne and Hanover.

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