- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2008

EGYPT

Fire breaks out at parliament

CAIRO | A large fire erupted Tuesday in Egypt’s parliament, and five people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, officials said.

There was no official word on the cause of the blaze, which ravaged a 19th century palace where parliament’s upper house is located. Flames shot from windows across the top floor of the three-story building and spread to the second floor.

A helicopter scooped water from the nearby Nile River and poured buckets onto the blaze.



Evacuated employees said authorities told them they had ruled out terrorism, and that an electrical short-circuit likely had sparked the fire.

Police forces cordoned off the area around the building, which is close to the American University in Cairo and several Western embassies.

IRAN

Plan to build more nuke plants

TEHRAN | Iran is preparing to build more nuclear power plants, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday, quoting Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, the head of a state-owned nuclear energy production company.

Mr. Fayyazbakhsh said his company signed agreements with other domestic firms to find sites to build new nuclear power plants. He says the process could take about 13 months.

Iran previously announced plans to build six more nuclear power plants by 2021. The country is building its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr with the help of Russia. It is expected to go on line later this year.

The U.S. suspects Iran’s nuclear program is a cover for developing weapons. Iran denies this, saying it’s for generating electricity.

GAZA STRIP

Israel reopens key crossing

GAZA CITY | Israel has allowed food and other supplies to enter the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip through a key commercial crossing that had been closed for months, Israeli and Palestinian officials said Tuesday.

Israeli Defense Ministry official Peter Lerner said about 80 trucks would pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing in a trial run before it is officially reopened in accordance with an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas.

Kerem Shalom has been closed since April, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a car at the crossing.

Palestinian officials said about 15 trucks carrying canned food and fruit passed through Monday and they were told more would follow Tuesday.

TURKEY

Suicide bomber injures 12 police

ANKARA | A suspected suicide bomber detonated a car outside the southern Turkish city of Mersin while on the run from the police Tuesday, killing himself and wounding 12 officers, officials and media said.

Mersin Gov. Huseyin Aksoy told Anatolia news agency the car was thought to contain only its driver, who detonated the device when police tried to stop the vehicle in the outskirts of the city.

Mersin is one of Turkey’s main ports on the Mediterranean coast and has a sizeable population of immigrants from the mainly Kurdish southeast, who have staged violent demonstrations in the city in the past.

YEMEN

More al Qaeda suspects held

SAN’A | Yemeni security forces have arrested five suspected al Qaeda militants in the eastern province of Hadramawt, where they have stepped up their hunt for the gunmen, a security official said Tuesday.

The five were nabbed late Monday near the town of Sayun, where a policeman was killed in a July 25 suicide bombing claimed by al Qaeda.

Yemen said Friday it had uncovered a new “terrorist” cell near the port city of Al Mukalla that had been plotting attacks in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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