Reporters on the Job

MORTARS AT DAYBREAK: Reporter Nicole Itano awoke in the eastern Congo town of Bunia Saturday morning to the sound of gunfire and mortars. It was not what she expected only a day after the first contingent of French peacekeeping troops arrived.

"At first the shooting was far away, but by 8 a.m. it was upon us. All the journalists here - at least 50 - took shelter in the United Nations' headquarters. You could see fighting as Lendu tribal fighters tried and failed to wrest the town center from the rival Hema rebels."

The fighting has now stopped, says Nicole but conditions are hardly ideal. All the journalists are camping out in the UN's yard. "It's a mini tent city here, separated by barbed wire from the refugee camp next door. But if the fighting starts again, we're allowed inside the building"

- David Clark Scott

World editor

THE BEST OF THE REST

MORE TIME TO SHOP: The mandatory 4 p.m. store-closing time ended in Germany Saturday, when a new law took effect allowing stores to stay open until 8 p.m. - as they do every other day except Sunday, when shops are closed altogether.

The Associated Press reports that unionized store workers and some shopkeepers resisted the change. The resistance highlights the difficulty of reinvigorating Europe's largest economy, even as it teeters on the brink of recession. However, stores are not likely to open Sunday anytime soon: The German constitution says the day is for "spiritual elevation."

Follow-up on a Monitor story

LOST AND FOUND: Initial reports that 170,000 Iraqi antiquities ("Looters plunder in minutes Iraq's millennia-old legacy," April 14) were missing were overstated. Estimates now are that 3,000 artifacts are gone. On Saturday, Iraqi officials announced that the world-famous treasures of Nimrud were located in good condition in a vault in the country's Central Bank.

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