- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2003

BRITAIN

Poll finds Tories overtaking Labor

LONDON — Britain’s opposition Conservatives have overtaken the ruling Labor Party of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who continues to suffer a post-Iraq war slump, according to an opinion poll published today.

The YouGov survey in the Mail newspaper today gave the Conservatives — who dominated 20th century British politics with leaders such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — 38 percent support to Labor’s 33 percent.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, who defied a plot to oust him last week at a party conference, saw his approval rating rise to 31 percent from 22 percent a week ago.

Mr. Blair’s approval rating was down to 37 percent from 40 percent a week ago, according to the survey of 2,205 people interviewed Friday and yesterday.

NEPAL

At least 40 killed in rebel raid

KATMANDU — At least 40 persons, including 37 Maoist rebels, were killed when the guerrillas attacked a police post in western Nepal, ending a Hindu festival truce, officials said yesterday.

They said the Maoists, fighting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and create a communist republic, bombed the Armed Police Force base at Kusum, 280 miles west of Katmandu, late on Friday. The attack triggered a fierce exchange of fire, the deadliest since the rebels deserted peace talks in August.

The fresh violence marked the end of a nine-day cease-fire announced by the rebels during the Hindu festival of Dasain that concluded Friday.

NIGERIA

Dozens believed dead as ferry hits bridge

LAGOS — A ferry hit a bridge in eastern Nigeria and capsized, and authorities said yesterday they believed dozens were dead.

Fifty of the up to 100 people aboard were rescued after the accident Tuesday, said a spokesman for the eastern state of Ademawa.

The ferry had been traveling from the town of Neman on the Benue River. It hit a pillar of the Neman bridge and sank. News of the accident in the remote region reached Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, only yesterday.

INDIA

Hindu hard-liners held in Ayodhya

LUCKNOW — Police in the northern Indian pilgrimage town of Ayodhya have arrested about 1,500 hard-line Hindu activists on charges of violating a ban on assembling , officials said.

The activists were campaigning to build a temple over the ruins of a razed mosque, an official said yesterday.

A senior police official said activists of the regional Shiv Sena party had been banned from organizing a convention of the devotees of Hindu god Ram at Ayodhya.

SPAIN

Bullet train arrives slower and a year late

MADRID — Spain’s new bullet train, which made its maiden journey yesterday, has not exactly lived up to its name.

The train traveled well below its intended average and peak speeds in its debut, which itself was a year behind schedule. Spain’s second high-speed rail links Madrid to the northeastern city of Lleida.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia traveled on the train for the first official test run Friday. The train had an average speed of 108 mph, with a peak of 124 mph. Those speeds were impressive but slower than the intended average speed of 186 mph with peaks of 217 mph.

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