- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008


Al Qaeda targets U.S. Embassy

SAN’A, Yemen — An al Qaeda terror cell was behind a mortar strike against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen that missed its target but killed a security guard and wounded 13 students at a nearby school, an Interior Ministry official said yesterday.

The official said al Qaeda militant Hamza al-Dayan launched three mortars at the embassy Tuesday before fleeing the scene in a vehicle with three accomplices. The mortar shells crashed into the school in the downtown Sawan district of San’a, killing the security guard and wounding 13 schoolgirls, three grievously.

On Thursday, police arrested five suspects in the attack. It was not clear if they have any connection to al-Dayan and his men, who remain at large.


Thousands protest anti-Koran film

AMSTERDAM — Demonstrators of all races and colors crowded Amsterdam’s central square yesterday, braving wind and sleet to show their opposition to anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders.

The protest, called “Netherlands Shows Its Colors,” is primarily a reaction in advance to the short film Mr. Wilders says he will release later this month criticizing the Koran as a “fascist” book.

The 15-minute movie is due to be released by March 31.


Prison riot kills 9, injures 20

CARACAS — A prison riot between rival gangs left nine inmates dead and 20 wounded, Venezuelan press said yesterday.

The fighting began Friday morning when gunfire broke out in the San Fernando de Apure lockup in central Venezuela, according to the Caracas-based El Nacional newspaper.

The uprising was controlled with the help of more than 100 national guard and police officers, it said.


Pope to baptize Muslim convert

VATICAN CITY — Italy’s most prominent Muslim commentator is converting to Catholicism by being baptized by the pope at an Easter vigil, the Vatican announced yesterday.

Magdi Allam is the deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper and often writes on Muslim and Arab affairs. Born in Egypt, he has described himself as a non-practicing Muslim. He has long spoken out against extremism and in favor of tolerance.

Pope Benedict XVI was baptizing seven adults during the service, which marks the period between Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, and Easter, which marks his resurrection.


Sci-fi writer Clarke gets secular funeral

COLOMBO — Science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke was buried yesterday to the music of his most famous work, the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” as tearful mourners spoke of his wish to be remembered as someone who “never grew up.”

Mr. Clarke, who moved to Sri Lanka in 1956, died Wednesday at a Colombo hospital at age 90 after years of suffering debilitating post-polio syndrome.

In the days since Clarke’s death, students, space enthusiasts, politicians and Buddhist monks traveled to his Colombo home to pay their last respects and salute a man who inspired many of them.

His brief funeral yesterday was held according to his written instructions: “Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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