- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2007


Pope leads Easter vigil

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI baptized eight persons during a candlelit Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica early today, opening the most important event of the Christian church calendar.

Benedict started the Mass by blessing a large white candle and carrying it down the main aisle of the darkened basilica. Slowly, the twinkle of candlelight lit up the entire basilica as the faithful shared the lone flame.

He baptized six adults and two children — part of the renewal Christians associate with Easter.


Hoyer meets official of Muslim Brotherhood

CAIRO — A top U.S. Democratic congressman met a leader of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s most powerful rival, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, U.S. officials and the Islamist group said yesterday.

Visiting House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, met with the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, twice on Thursday — once at parliament and then at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Brotherhood spokesman Hamdi Hassan said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman John Berry would only confirm that Mr. Hoyer met with Mr. el-Katatni at U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home at a reception with other politicians and parliament members.


Toll from tsunami, quake likely to climb

GIZO — The death toll from the Solomon Islands earthquake and tsunami has risen to 39 and is likely to climb sharply in the next few days, aid agency World Vision said today.

World Vision spokesman Martin Thomas said the latest total was based on information collated on Thursday, three days after Monday’s tsunami, and would rise as reports filter back from remote islands in the Pacific archipelago.

“It’s difficult to be sure of the numbers because the teams are still out there collecting information,” he said in Gizo, one of the worst-hit towns that is now the base for international relief efforts. “They’re finding freshly-dug graves when they go into villages, but because of the situation they’re not in a position to carry out a census.”


U.S. delegation heads to Pyongyang

A high-level U.S. delegation left for Pyongyang yesterday after Washington announced advances that could pave the way toward North Korea dismantling its nuclear weapons arsenal.

A bipartisan team, led by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, left Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a four-day trip at the invitation of North Korea to oversee the recovery of remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War, officials said.

The visit coincides with a separate trip by U.S. envoy Christopher R. Hill to the region last week, to continue nuclear disarmament efforts.


Sectarian battles leave 40 dead

PESHAWAR — Gunbattles between majority Sunnis and minority Shi’ites left at least 40 persons dead and 43 wounded in remote northwestern Pakistan after gunmen opened fire on Shi’ite Muslims, a Pakistani official said yesterday.

Arbab Mohammed Arif Khan, secretary for law and order in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal regions, said authorities had imposed a round-the-clock curfew to control the situation in Parachinar in the North-West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.

The trouble began Friday when gunmen began shooting at Shi’ites near their mosque, according to Gul Jan, a local resident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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