- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

SAUDI ARABIA

Security forces kill bomb plot suspects

RIYADH — Security officers fought an intense gunbattle with suspected al Qaeda militants yesterday, killing five persons sought in last week’s brazen attempt to blow up a huge oil-processing complex with car bombs.

A sixth suspect was arrested without injury during a simultaneous pre-dawn raid in the same part of the capital, the Interior Ministry said.

The assault in eastern Saudi Arabia was the first on the kingdom’s vital oil infrastructure and caused oil prices to jump $2 a barrel.

IRAN

IAEA reports nuclear defiance

VIENNA, Austria — Iran is forging ahead with a nuclear fuel enrichment program in defiance of world pressure and is stonewalling U.N. probes spurred by fears that it secretly wants atomic weapons, a U.N. watchdog report said yesterday.

The report by International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei was circulated to IAEA board members for discussion at a March 6 meeting. The report will be forwarded to the U.N. Security Council, which could consider sanctions.

THAILAND

Opposition parties to boycott vote

BANGKOK — Thailand’s three opposition parties said yesterday they would boycott snap elections April 2, deepening a political crisis and raising the pressure on embattled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Thaksin, the focus of an increasingly strident campaign based in Bangkok by groups accusing him of abuses of power and tailoring government policies to benefit his family’s business, shrugged off the boycott.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrats, the largest opposition party, said the three parties refused to run in the April 2 vote because it did not guarantee political reform, reflecting their charges that Mr. Thaksin had undermined institutions.

BRITAIN

‘Da Vinci Code’ author accused of plagiarism

LONDON — “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown was accused in Britain’s High Court yesterday of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from a 1982 book about the Holy Grail.

The accusation was made in a breach of copyright lawsuit filed against “The Da Vinci Code” publisher Random House. If the lawsuit succeeds in getting an injunction barring use of the disputed material, the scheduled May 19 release of “The Da Vinci Code” film starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellan could be threatened.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,” sued Random House, which also published their book. Random House denies the claim.

SERBIA-MONTENEGRO

EU gives a month for Mladic’s arrest

BRUSSELS — The European Union told Serbia yesterday it had a month to deliver war-crimes fugitive Gen. Ratko Mladic to justice or risk seeing its bid to enter the bloc derailed.

EU foreign ministers stopped short of suspending preliminary talks with Belgrade, as urged by The Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, but made clear those discussions would run into trouble if there were no results by the end of March.

One of the top two war crimes suspects in the Balkans, Gen. Mladic has been a wanted man since 1995 and is said to have enjoyed high-level protection from renegade members of the military and intelligence services in Serbia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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