Some of the heaviest street fighting in months shook Baghdad Wednesday as terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked police checkpoints in broad daylight. Two of the attackers were killed, two others were arrested, and four carloads of weapons were seized, police said. Three officers also died in the fighting, and 31 civilians were wounded. The new violence served as a backdrop to Thursday's expected vote in parliament on Iraq's proposed constitution.
Almost 40 percent of the once-lush marshland of southern Iraq has been restored to its former state since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, UN environmental experts reported. Hussein drained much of the area to punish its inhabitants for supporting a rebellion against him in the early 1990s, turning 90 percent of it into salt flats. The restoration effort is being funded by Japan to the tune of $11 million, but experts say it will take many years to complete.
Authorities moved in to register the first of thousands of madrasas, or Islamic religious schools, in Pakistan, a key feature of President Pervez Musharraf's plan to regulate them. Critics say some of the schools teach intolerance of other faiths and have been breeding grounds for terrorists, among them those who attacked London's transport systems last month. The schools are required to be registered by year's end, and an estimated 1,400 foreign students enrolled in them are subject to expulsion from the country. The plan also calls for the schools to disclose their sources of income.
A break in the torrential rains that have caused massive flooding and landslides in central and southern Europe was allowing evacuations by military helicopters that had not been possible before. The week-long problem is blamed for 34 deaths and property damage that has yet to be calculated. Hardest hit was Romania, where 25 people have died and thousands of others have fled their inundated homes. But areas of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Bulgaria also have been affected.
All but four of the fires that have burned much of Portugal's forestland were under control, the Civil Protection Service said Wednesday. While extensive, the damage from the blazes is not sufficient for Portugal to make a claim against the European Union's natural-disaster fund, officials said.
At least 41 people died when a passenger jet on a domestic flight broke apart and burned on an attempted emergency landing in a swamp in rural Peru. Fifty-six survivors were receiving medical treatment; three others were reported missing. The accident was the fifth in the world this month involving a commercial airliner.