Rival militants in the Gaza Strip engaged in their most violent clash since Hamas took over the Palestinian Authority (PA) government six weeks ago. The fighting, with assault rifles and a shoulder-fired missile, killed two Fatah members and one from Hamas; at least 11 others were hurt. Fatah, which has dominated Palestinian politics for 40 years, backs PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and the two sides have been jockeying for control of the government's security forces. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh appealed for self-restraint.Skip to next paragraph
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To announce the exact date he plans to leave as prime minister would "paralyze" Britain's government, Tony Blair told a widely watched news conference in London. In a bid to quell growing unease in his Labour Party after last week's drubbing in local elections, Blair said he'd arrange an orderly transition that would give his successor time to become established in the post before the next national election is due in 2010. His remarks appeared to anger rebellious members of the party, who'd drafted a letter demanding that he say when he'll quit. One told Reuters: "To say, 'Shut up; I'm going on as long as I want to,' is just not acceptable."
An angry crowd attacked the party of the UN's senior humanitarian aid official at a camp for Darfur refugees, causing the visitors to leave in haste for their safety. Reports from Nyala, Sudan, said about 1,000 people became unruly after misunderstanding Jan Egeland's translator, who was manhandled. The camp residents were trying to impress on Egeland their desire for a large force of UN peacekeepers, which the government so far has resisted. He arrived in Sudan Sunday, cautioning that the new peace accord for Darfur won't be easy to implement.
Twelve ambassadors appointed by Nepal's unpopular King Gyanendra were ordered home by the new cabinet as part of the house cleaning it has undertaken since assuming office last week. Among those ousted, effective immediately: the envoys to the US, Britain, and neighboring India and China. The cabinet also revoked all political appointments made by Gyanendra after he seized power in February of last year. In addition, it has pledged to rescind the decrees issued during his rule.
Stepping in where neighboring Brazil had bowed out, the president of Venezuela announced that his nation will explore for natural gas and oil in impoverished Bolivia. Hugo Chávez said on his weekly TV program Sunday night that the state-owned oil company will "look for more gas and oil reserves" there, in addition to sending gasoline and developmental aid. New President Evo Morales, a fellow leftist, nationalized Bolivia's energy sector last week, angering adjoining nations. One of them was Brazil, whose Petrobras oil company canceled a pipeline project in which it was investing.
The controversial April 2 election for a new parliament in Thailand was nullified by the nation's Constitutional Court. It ordered a new vote to end the political impasse that has ham- strung government for weeks. Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra called the April election three years early to quiet calls for his resignation, but it was boycotted by the major opposition parties. The ruling Monday sent the Bangkok stock exchange index to its highest close in almost 2-1/2 years.
Two more fatal mining accidents were reported in China Monday, and investigators accused the owners of one of the coal pits involved of covering up the casualty count. The official Xinhua news agency said 19 men died and 21 others were hurt in the accidents, one of which involved a leak of poisonous gas. The other was an explosion that happened last week but was not immediately made public. Despite repeated crackdowns, mines in China have the world's worst safety record.