One of Islamic Jihad's most-wanted leaders was killed when his car exploded Wednesday in Gaza City. But it was not immediately clear that the incident was caused by an Israeli attack. Military leaders said the Air Force was not involved in activity in the area, and some witnesses suggested it was possible the car had been "booby-trapped." The dead man was identified as Khaled Dahdouh, commander of Islamic Jihad's military wing in the Gaza Strip. The organization said he was responsible for multiple attacks against Israeli targets and was involved in the development of homemade rockets that are fired at towns in southern Israel from Gaza. Meanwhile, shooting attacks in the West Bank killed an Israeli settler and seriously wounded another.
As many as 40 "foreign miscreants" were killed in an assault on their training camp by Pakistani Army units Wednesday on the basis of "confirmed intelligence." But reports said the attack infuriated local tribesmen and that the government forces were bracing for a backlash. The camp is near Afghanistan, and the reports said the militants had just returned from terrorist operations across the border. Pakistan is under pressure from the US and Afghanistan to act more forcefully against militants in its tribal regions, where Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding. President Bush is due to visit Pakistan following a stay in India.
Four days of rioting inside the main prison in Afghanistan ended with authorities back in control. But the facility on the outskirts of Kabul was under heavy guard. It was not clear whether any concessions had been made to induce the inmates to accept a transfer to a refurbished wing of the prison, which they earlier had refused. Among those involved were hundreds of Al Qaeda and Taliban members, officials said. The violence resulted in six deaths and at least 40 injuries. Revolts by prison inmates in Jordan also ended Wednesday after authorities promised they wouldn't be punished for taking a warden and six deputies hostage. The inmates, described as Al Qaeda loyalists, had demanded the release of Iraqi militant Sajida al-Rishawi, who failed to blow herself up in the terrorist attacks on three luxury hotels in Amman last November.
Casualties were mounting in heavy fighting between rebels and a joint force of Army troops and UN peacekeepers Wednesday for control of Tchei, a strategic town in eastern Congo. A UN spokesman said the rebels were using civilians as human shields, "making our task much more difficult." An estimated 60,000 people have died in fighting in eastern Congo over the past six years, some of them despite the fact that the war there officially ended in 2003. The UN forces have stepped up efforts to pacify the area with a national election for president scheduled for June 18.
Significant change appeared in the offing in Chechnya after Prime Minister Sergei Abramov resigned Wednesday, saying the post should go to his deputy. If the suggestion is honored, acting Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov would succeed him, perhaps as soon as Thursday. He is the son of President Akhmad Kadyrov (who was assassinated in 2004) and reportedly is widely feared by Chechens. Human rights organizations accuse the militia under his command of kidnappings, torture, and murders. In October, the younger Kadyrov will turn 30, the minimum age for the Chechen presidency, and The Moscow Times said it's widely expected that the Kremlin will then nominate him for that office. Abramov was seriously injured in a car crash last fall and remains hospitalized.
A nationwide ban on smoking in enclosed public places went into effect Wednesday in Uruguay, the first of its kind in South America. The prohibition, inspired by President Tabaré Vazquez, an oncologist, calls for fines of $1,100 for operators of restaurants, bars, offices, and other structures where people are caught using tobacco. The fines double for repeat offenses.