World

A slight easing of the security alert level for air travel was announced Monday by authorities in Britain. But they warned that Britons should remain vigilant against potential new terrorist plots. A London newspaper reported that police are hunting for "totally committed" new mothers who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their infants to bring down passenger planes by setting off explosives in flight. The Sun quoted a senior adviser to the government as saying such women provide "very good cover" because they tend not to arouse the suspicions of security personnel. The newspaper said that's why women are ordered to drink from their babies' bottles of formula before being allowed to board planes.

Tamil Tiger rebels bombed the motorcade of Pakistan's top diplomat in Sri Lanka Monday, missing him but killing seven other people and wounding 17 more. Analysts suggested that the attack came because Pakis-tan supplies weapons to Sri Lanka's military. The rebels had threatened to open a bombing campaign aimed at civilians in the capital, Colombo. The attack also followed a claim by the rebels that an airstrike in northeastern Sri Lanka had hit an orphanage, killing 43 girls.

Four more employees of foreign oilfield service companies were seized by gunmen as they relaxed at a nightclub in the capital of Nigeria's oil region Sunday. The incident was the fifth of its type this month, and one of those taken was identified as an American. The captors and their hostages fled in a hail of bullets as security forces responded to the incident. Hours later, three Filipino employees of a natural gas facility who'd been held by militants for more than a week were freed unharmed. Ransoms often are paid for the release of such hostages, but it wasn't clear whether one was in this case.

A manhunt was under way across Venezuela for four prison escapees, among them the union chief who led a two-month strike against the national oil company aimed at toppling leftist President Hugo Chávez. The Defense Ministry said soldiers and police had been sent to all air and seaports and the embassies of foreign governments to prevent Carlos Ortega and three military officers from fleeing the country or seeking asylum. Ortega, a fierce opponent of Chávez, was serving a 16-year sentence for civil rebellion after the early 2003 shutdown of the world's fifth-largest oil industry.

Hours before senators in Australia's Parliament were to begin consideration of a controversial bill that would slap rigid new controls on immigration policy, Prime Minister John Howard withdrew it Monday. The measure would have required all asylum-seekers who arrive by sea to be sent to offshore detention camps to await processing. But it was headed for certain defeat, Howard acknowledged. Over the protests of human-rights groups, it passed the lower house last week. But senators from the ruling coalition were prepared to vote with the opposition, which would have resulted in the biggest legislative setback of Howard's decade in power.

Less than three months after President Evo Morales announced the nationalization of Bolivia's oil and gas industry, the plan has been suspended, the government said. In a statement issued late last week but not reported until Monday, the Hydrocarbons Ministry attributed the halt to "lack of economic resources." Analysts said the admission demonstrated that Bolivia does not have the capital, experience, or knowledge to operate its energy sector, which, until the May 1 seizure by government troops, had been run by foreign companies. At the time, Morales pledged that the state oil monopoly would be restructured within 60 days.

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