Muslim militants bomb southern town
YALA — A militant and a police officer were fatally shot and 20 persons were injured as four bombs rocked Yala town in southern Thailand yesterday, the Thai army and a nurse said.
The two were killed in a shootout after a blast rocked a department store about 7 p.m. in Yala town, quickly followed by explosions at a hotel coffee shop, outdoor restaurant and power station, the army said.
Twenty persons injured in the attacks, including five police officers, had been admitted to Yala provincial hospital, a nurse in the hospital’s emergency room told Agence France-Presse.
Palestinian police battle Muslim militants
GAZA CITY — Palestinian militants waged gunbattles yesterday with Palestinian security forces trying to stop rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel and seven gunmen and civilians were wounded, medics and witnesses said.
The fighting was the worst in years among Palestinians in the occupied territory, underscoring the tough challenge Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas faces to consolidate his control in Gaza before a planned Israeli pullout next month.
Palestinian police conducted raids after Hamas militants launched a barrage of rocket fire that killed an Israeli woman in southern Israel and wounded another Israeli in the latest incident to threaten a five-month-old truce.
Protesters march, defying police
CAIRO — Shopkeepers in central Cairo closed their shutters as about 200 protesters defied police after a pro-reform demonstration yesterday and marched through the streets shouting anti-government slogans.
Police ran to stop the protesters by forming barricades across roads and officers shouted that the demonstration was over.
Street marches are rare in Egypt, where opposition political groups such as the Kefaya (Enough) movement have organized near weekly protests calling for senior government figures, including President Hosni Mubarak, to step down from power.
10 protesters arrested in rare confrontation
HAVANA — Cuba’s communist authorities have quelled a rare protest against President Fidel Castro in central Havana, in which at least 10 persons were arrested and government supporters scuffled with opponents.
“It has been 11 years, since clashes on August 5, 1994, that we have not seen anything like that. It is a clear sign of the government’s nervousness as the problems in Cuba have piled up,” a Western diplomat said.
The unusual politically charged incident in the Americas’ only communist country broke out Wednesday. Protesters held a public memorial for the deaths on July 13, 1994, of 41 adults and children as they tried to flee to the United States in a tugboat.
Leader seeks Cabinet of technocrats
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s prime minister said yesterday he would seek to form a government of technocrats after failing to win agreement on a Cabinet drawn from political groups no longer forced to bend to Syria’s will.
Fouad Siniora, a member of a coalition that pushed for Syria’s pullout from Lebanon, made the announcement after talks with pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud confirmed that squabbles had ruined his proposed Cabinet of politicians.
But problems quickly emerged when anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt informed Mr. Siniora that he would not cooperate in forming a government of technocrats and that his 16-member bloc would vote against it in parliament, political sources said.
From wire dispatches and staff reports