Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NIGERIA

Briton killed in bid to free hostages

PORT HARCOURT — One of seven foreign oil workers taken hostage yesterday was killed and another was wounded during a rescue attempt that also left two kidnappers and a soldier dead, officials said.

Gunmen had seized the seven hostages from a supply vessel belonging to a subsidiary of Italian oil giant Eni SpA about 30 miles off the coast of southern Nigeria in the latest attack by militants on facilities in the volatile Niger Delta, where most of the country’s oil is produced.

The slain hostage was British and the wounded man was Italian, according to a colleague. Eni had said earlier the hostages were two Finns, an Italian, a Filipino, a Briton, a Pole and a Romanian.



IRAN

IAEA agrees to deny aid for nuke reactor

VIENNA, Austria — The U.N. nuclear-watchdog agency effectively agreed yesterday to deny Iran technical help in building a plutonium-producing reactor but left room for Tehran to renew its request in two years, diplomats said.

A committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency forwarded a summary of three days of deliberations on 832 requests for technical aid to the full board, scheduled to meet today.

That gathering was expected to follow the committee’s recommendation and waive a decision on Tehran’s request for aid for its Arak reactor. That, in effect, would deny IAEA money for Arak — at least for the next two years, after which new requests will be considered.

SOUTH KOREA

Free-trade talks draw labor protests

SEOUL — Tens of thousands of South Korean workers held rallies and labor strikes yesterday to oppose a free-trade agreement with the United States and to demand better working conditions.

Chanting “Down, down FTA,” thousands of protesters held a peaceful rally near the city hall in central Seoul, while hundreds clashed with police in the southwestern city of Gwangju. No injuries were reported.

The protest comes less than two weeks before South Korean and American negotiators meet for their fifth round of free-trade talks in the United States to hammer out an accord that would slash tariffs and other trade barriers.

TURKEY

40 held in protest against pope’s visit

ISTANBUL — Police yesterday detained about 40 members of a Turkish nationalist party who earlier had occupied one of Istanbul’s most famous buildings, the Haghia Sophia, to protest the visit next week of Pope Benedict XVI.

The protesters belong to the Great Unity Party, a far right-wing group that has previously staged demonstrations against the planned Nov. 28-Dec. 1 visit.

Benedict is scheduled to tour the Haghia Sophia — one of the world’s greatest churches for more than 1,000 years, which was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Today, the Haghia Sophia is a museum, and public religious ceremonies inside are forbidden.

CANADA

90 held in Montreal in raids against mob

MONTREAL — Police arrested about 90 suspected organized crime figures early yesterday, including the father of a man who faces charges related to the killing of members of the Bonanno crime family in New York.

More than 700 police officers in Montreal conducted the early-morning raids to round up the suspects, and more than 1,300 charges were expected to be brought, police said.

Among those arrested was 82-year-old Nicolo Rizzuto. His son, Vito Rizzuto, was deported to the United States earlier this year to face charges related to the killings of three members of the reputed Bonanno crime family in New York.

RUSSIA

Gorbachev undergoes artery surgery

MOSCOW — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is recovering after undergoing surgery in Germany on a key artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain, his foundation said yesterday.

Mr. Gorbachev, 75, had surgery on his carotid artery at a clinic in Munich on Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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