A terrorist bomber killed himself and 32 other people as they gathered for the burial of a noted Shiite in a town 60 miles north of Baghdad Wednesday. The wounded numbered more than 40, reports said. The attack was one of several in the deadliest day in Iraq since its Dec. 15 parliamentary election. In all, 53 people died in the incidents, which threatened to overshadow efforts by the largest Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni political parties to come up with a nominee for prime minister.
In another embarrassment to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, gunmen of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade commandeered bulldozers and smashed through one wall of the barricade between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The incident appeared aimed at pressuring Abbas's security forces to release a local leader who'd been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of three Britons last week.
A deal aimed at easing the tension between Russia and Ukraine over the supply of natural gas was announced Wed-nesday, and the latter's president portrayed it as a way to wean his country off the barter system of the Soviet era. "The Ukrainian economy is now completely ready for new market conditions," Viktor Yushchenko said. The five-year deal raises the price Ukraine must pay for each 1,000 cubic feet of gas from $50 to $230. But when extra supplies flowing from other former Soviet republics such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are factored in, the import price drops to an average of $95, officials said. Ukraine had sought a raise to only $80.
Police arrested another senior human rights activist in Cambodia, the third in less than a week in a crackdown against critics of Premier Hun Sen. Colleagues said the arrest was related to a lawsuit filed against the Center for Human Rights, which publicly displayed a banner early last month accusing Hun Sen of selling Cambodian acreage to Vietnam. A government spokes-man called the accusation "a serious political incitement" and rejected claims that the crackdown is comparable to that against democracy activists in neighboring Burma (Myanmar).
Days of relentless rain triggered a predawn mudslide that buried a village in central Indonesia with mud and rock, killing an estimated 100 residents. More than 170 others were reported missing. Would-be rescuers searched for survivors, digging through tons of debris with their bare hands as the regional government scrambled to try to address the need for shelter and food on top of thousands of other people left homeless when similar slides destroyed their villages earlier this week. Flooding and landslides are common there during the rainy season, compounded by the illegal harvesting of timber.
The remains of three more children were found under a collapsed skating rink in Bad Reichenhall, Germany, bringing the number of dead to 14. One person remains unaccounted for in the debris, but rescue crews reported finding no signs of life. An estimated 50 people were in the building when its roof fell under the weight of heavy snow Monday.
Forty days of mourning were declared by the government of Dubai after Emir Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum died on a visit to Australia. Maktoum, who was keenly interested in horse racing and helped to make the Dubai Cup the sport's richest event, had been expected to attend a sale of yearlings in Brisbane later this month. He was succeeded by his brother, Sheikh Mohamad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.