World

One of the most powerful earthquakes on record triggered massive tidal waves Sunday, wreaking havoc across Southeast Asia. The 8.9-magnitude quake - the strongest since a 9.2 tremor shook Alaska in 1964 - was centered off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, but it rocked buildings hundreds of miles away. The greatest damage, however, was caused by waves as high as 20 feet crashing into coastal areas. As the Monitor went to press, the death toll was 7,800.

Ukrainians cast their ballots Sunday in an unprecedented third round of Ukraine's presidential contest, brought on by massive protesting following a fraudulent runoff vote between rival candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych. To the east, Uzbekistan's autocratic President Islam Karimov - an ally in Bush's war on terror whose countrymen also participated in an election Sunday - said he would not tolerate "revolutions" such as Ukraine's. The Uzbek election featured only parties loyal to Karimov.

Twenty-five Jewish families living in the Gaza Strip have agreed to move inside Israel, an Israeli official said Sunday. The deal gives an important boost to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has called for the dismantling of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip - a demand the settler leadership has vowed to resist. Eran Sternberg, a spokesman for settlers opposed to the evacuation, denied that the families in question had signed any agreement and said they do not really want to move.

The Bush administration has been talking with Iraqi leaders about giving Sunni Arabs a foothold in Iraq's new government, even if they fail to do well in Iraq's Jan. 30 election, The New York Times reported Sunday. As 20 percent of Iraq's population, the Sunnis are a powerful minority that dominated Saddam Hussein's administration and earlier governments. Though some Sunni parties plan to boycott the upcoming election, US and Iraqi leaders, including revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, discussed adding the most popular Sunni candidates to the 275-member legislature, even if they lose to non-Sunni candidates.

The suicide bomber who carried out last week's attack on a US army base in Mosul, Iraq, was not a member of the Iraqi security forces, though he may have been wearing their uniform, the Iraqi army's chief of staff, Gen. Babaker Shawkat Zebari, said Sunday. The uniforms are available "in the market" and thus not difficult to obtain, Zebari told the Associated Press. A US military spokesman in Mosul declined to comment on Zebari's claim, preferring to wait instead for the results of an investigation into the matter.

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