Jubilation in Iraq over the capture of Saddam Hussein's former vice president was quickly shattered by a massive truck-bomb explosion that wrecked UN headquarters in Baghdad. At least 13 people died in the blast and 40 others were hurt. Among the latter was Sergio de Mello, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy. His wounds were said to be serious. There was no claim of responsibility. Earlier, the Pentagon confirmed that Taha Yassin Ramadan, No. 20 on the list of most-wanted Iraqis, had been taken in Mosul, his home region - perhaps after a tip by an informant. (Story, page 1.)Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Rebel forces signed a new peace accord with the interim government of Liberia that commits the war-torn west African country to new elections in two years. But they complained that in Monrovia, the capital, fighters loyal to exiled former President Charles Taylor were not being demobilized quickly enough and warned that the deal could collapse if peacekeepers were not "fair and straight." Reports said that fighting between the two sides in northern Liberia that began before the signing of the accord was still raging. (Story, page 7.)
Regrouped Taliban insurgents were blamed for an Independence Day attack in Afghanistan that killed at least nine policemen in an ambush 55 miles south of Kabul, the capital. Some of the victims were senior commanders; it was not immediately clear whether there were survivors. The casualties bring to more than 90 the number of people killed in Afghanistan in the past week, or since NATO assumed command of peacekeeping operations there.
Amid intense security precautions, a court in Morocco ordered four members of a group linked to Al Qaeda to be executed for their roles in terrorist bomb explosions May 16. A series of almost simultaneous blasts in the port city of Casa-blanca killed 33 people, plus 12 attackers. Another 83 defendants in the case drew prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.
Independent relief agencies handing out emergency supplies of food in Zimbabwe were ordered by President Robert Mugabe's government to turn them over to his political party instead. In a directive to the UN World Food Program and other humanitarian groups, the government said it and local "distribution committees" would now determine who received the food. Local elections are scheduled Aug. 30-31, and critics said the move was a signal that the aid would be denied to opponents of the government. The UN estimates that by January half of Zimbabweans will be in urgent need of food aid.
At least 17 men died in the explosion of trapped gas in a coal mine in China's northern Shanxi Province late Monday. Access to 10 others was blocked by rubble and reports said it was unlikely they were alive. The accident was the third of its type in Shanxi in 10 days and raised the number of deaths from them to at least 82.