Ignoring the government's appeal for calm, rioting immigrants widened their violence to at least 20 Paris suburbs Wednesday night, shooting at police and firefighters, torching dozens more cars and buses, and destroying an auto dealership and a gymnasium. No one was reported hit by the gunfire, but a police union leader called the situation "very serious and [one that] could even get worse." Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met repeatedly with his cabinet on the matter Thursday, telling reporters, "The restoration of public order [is] the priority - our absolute priority."
Al Qaeda said it had tried two employees of Morocco's embassy in Iraq, found them guilty of heresy and war on Islam, and will execute them. A statement posted on an Islamist website did not say when the sentence would be carried out. Morocco's Foreign Ministry denounced the statement as "barbarous" and contrary to the precepts of Islam. Morocco has supported the US-backed government of Iraq. Al Qaeda, which abducted the two men last month, repeatedly has warned Muslim governments not to send diplomats to Iraq. Earlier this year, it executed two Algerian envoys whom it had kidnapped.
A day after vowing not to renew its informal truce with Israel, Hamas appeared to backtrack. A spokesman for the militant organization said: "We are not going to give calm without a price. The price is to release our people from Israeli detention and to stop the Israeli aggression." Israeli leaders offered no immediate comment, but analysts say Hamas has more of an interest than other militants in maintaining a truce because it intends to run candidates in next January's election for a new Palestinian parliament.
The next round of negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program will open Wednesday in Beijing, the host government announced. It urged the six parties - both Koreas, the US, Japan, Russia, and its own representative - to "take an active and constructive attitude." But North Korea said it doubted whether the US is willing to follow through on a deal agreed to at the last set of talks: an exchange of aid and formal diplomatic relations for the dismantling of the nuclear program.
Three more demonstrators were killed by police in another day of antigovernment protests in Ethiopia, bringing the total to at least 31. Twelve other people were hurt Thursday. Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the government was "sorry and sad" about the casualties. But he blamed political opponents of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for organizing the protests against last May's parliamentary election. Addis Ababa, the capital, is an opposition stronghold.