- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006


Fatah mulls joining Hamas government

GAZA CITY — Fatah agreed at initial talks with Hamas yesterday to try to find common ground for a governing partnership between the long-dominant Palestinian faction and the militant group that crushed it at the polls.

Fatah has been cool to the idea of joining a government led by its powerful Islamist rival, which swept to victory in the Jan. 25 election.

After talks at the home of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad, head of its parliamentary faction, said: “We are in a dialogue that has only just begun, and we want to find common ground and we hope that we will seal an agreement.”


Armed robbers take $43.5 million

LONDON — A gang of armed robbers impersonating police officers tied up employees at a southern England security company and stole the equivalent of $43.5 million, the Bank of England said yesterday in disclosing one of the largest bank heists in British history.

The money, about 25 million pounds in bank notes, was stolen overnight from Securitas Cash Management Ltd. at Tonbridge in Kent county, a bank spokesman said.

In December 2004, a raid at the Northern Bank’s Belfast headquarters netted thieves the equivalent of $46.1 million — the biggest cash theft in British history. Three men have been charged in connection with that robbery.


Christian-Muslimclashes kill 93

LAGOS — Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha yesterday as the death toll from days of Christian-Muslim violence across this volatile West African nation rose to at least 93.

The sectarian violence was sparked by deadly weekend protests against newspaper caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. It is the worst to hit Nigeria since 2004, when Christian-Muslim skirmishes in the north killed more than 700 people.


Chen defies U.S. on China panel

TAIPEI — Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian, keen to shake off China’s claim of sovereignty, ignored U.S. pleas to retain a policy council on unification, which he said should be scrapped, newspapers reported yesterday.

Mr. Chen told Rep. Rob Simmons, Connecticut Republican, that the National Unification Council and 15-year-old guidelines on unification with China were “absurd products of an absurd era.”

Mr. Simmons was in the Republic of China to promote a special package of U.S. arms, including eight diesel-electric submarines.


Tiananmen protester freed from prison

BEIJING — A Chinese journalist imprisoned for throwing paint at a portrait of Mao Zedong during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests was freed yesterday, his brother said, ahead of President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in April.

The release of Yu Dongyue, 38, from more than 16 years in prison would leave about 70 political prisoners still serving time for their roles in the student-led demonstrations for democracy crushed by the army on June 4, 1989, said the human rights watchdog Dui Hua Foundation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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