- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

PAKISTAN

Businessman held in nuclear probe

ISLAMABAD — A businessman has been detained for questioning about his suspected links to the disgraced father of the country’s nuclear program, officials said yesterday.

It was not clear exactly when Aizaz Jaffery was detained or what ties he is suspected of having to Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist who has acknowledged giving weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Jaffery has boasted of his ties to Mr. Khan, and officials told a newspaper he was the scientist’s emissary to Iran.

CHINA

Store, temple fires kill more than 90

BEIJING — Twin fires killed more than 90 people in two Chinese cities yesterday; one swept through a temple full of pilgrims, the other hit a crowded shopping mall where panicky shoppers jumped from windows to escape the blaze.

Officials said at least 53 persons were killed and more than 60 injured when fire broke out on the second floor of the four-story Zhongbai Commercial Plaza in the city of Jilin, which housed shops, a dance hall and a bathhouse.

Another fire tore through a temple full of pilgrims in the city of Haining in China’s Zhejiang province, killing 39 worshippers, Xinhua said.

AUSTRALIA

Death of cyclist leads to riots

SYDNEY — Aborigines rioted in a black ghetto near the center of Sydney until early today over the death of Thomas Hickey, a young Aboriginal cyclist. They hurled Molotov cocktails and bricks at police in a nine-hour battle.

Dozens of police were injured, many with broken bones, in one of the worst outbreaks of civil unrest in Sydney in at least a decade.

Armed with garbage cans filled with bricks, beer bottles, Molotov cocktails and fireworks, about 100 Aborigines attacked police and set fire to a railway station in Redfern.

The mother of Thomas, 17, said her son died after falling from his bicycle and being impaled on a fence while being chased by police.

IRAQ

Shi’ites to offer election alternative

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite Muslim authority has drawn up alternative proposals should the United Nations formally judge that snap direct elections as demanded by its top clerics are impossible, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani said yesterday.

The alternative proposals, drawn up by the Marjaiya, the top clerical body for the country’s majority Shi’ites, cannot be shown now “since we are awaiting an answer from the United Nations,” Sheik Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai said in the city of Karbala.

A source close to the Marjaiya warned that the options could include a campaign, possibly violent, against the U.S.-led occupation, but it was not in the cards yet.

The U.S. overseer in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said the United States remained open to alternatives on how to transfer power to the Iraqis.

PERU

President presents his fifth Cabinet

LIMA — Unpopular Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo presented his fifth Cabinet in 30 months yesterday in a bid designed to lead him out of his worst political crisis ever.

Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero named seven new ministers, all politically independent, to the 16-member Cabinet he has headed since December.

In a move meant to maintain confidence among foreign investors, Mr. Toledo brought back his first finance minister, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a U.S. investment banker popular with Wall Street.

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