- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2005


Bird-flu outbreak triggers emergency

KIEV — Ukraine introduced tough steps yesterday to combat its first outbreak of bird flu, sending troops to patrol exclusion zones in the Crimean Peninsula and ordering the slaughter of all birds in them.

President Viktor Yushchenko told a ministerial meeting after a variation of the virus was detected in domestic fowl in six villages, that “emergency measures” had been taken, including the dispatch of Interior Ministry troops to the zones.

Crimean residents said domestic fowl had been dying from a “mysterious illness” for months.

Many scientists fear H5N1 could kill millions of people if it mutates into a form that passes easily among humans. But so far, there is no sign the virus has changed in this way, and no human cases have been found outside Asia.


16 persons arrested in baby-selling ring

BEIJING — Police in southern China have arrested 16 persons purportedly involved in kidnapping and selling baby girls as young as newborns to foreigners, state news reports said.

Thirty-one babies ranging in age from a few days to several months were kidnapped from the southern province of Guangdong and sold via middle men to two welfare organizations in neighboring Hunan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said in an article posted on its Web site Friday.

The babies were sold for between $100 and $500 each, the report said. Xinhua said the ring, which had been in operation for two years, sold some of the girls to foreigners.


Leader invites pope to Holy Land

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI discussed the Middle East peace process yesterday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who invited the pontiff to visit the Holy Land.

“You will be very welcome in Jerusalem and all the holy places,” Mr. Abbas, speaking English, told the pope after their private 20-minute meeting in Benedict’s library.

“Thank you very much,” the pope replied.

Mr. Abbas later told journalists that Benedict “responded positively” to his invitation but indicated no date for a visit. Last month, Israeli President Moshe Katsav invited Benedict to Israel and said he hoped the pope would visit next year.


Group threatens to block nuke inspections

TEHRAN — Iran’s hard-line constitutional watchdog approved a bill yesterday blocking international inspections of atomic facilities if the nation is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, state-run television reported.

The ratification by the Guardian Council means the bill — overwhelmingly approved by parliament last month — now needs just a presidential signature to become law. It was not clear when that would take place.

Iran has been under intense pressure to curb its nuclear program, which the United States claims is part of an effort to produce weapons. Iran says its program is aimed at generating electricity.


Police arrest militants after bombings

DHAKA — Police said yesterday they had arrested 85 suspected Islamic militants in a three-day sweep after suicide bombers killed at least nine persons and wounded scores in a spate of attacks last week.

The arrests were part of a nationwide hunt for members of a banned Islamic group, Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, which has been blamed for bombings across Bangladesh this year, an Interior Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

Police said they arrested 27 persons overnight across Bangladesh while 58 suspects were detained on Thursday and Friday. The detainees have not been charged.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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