World

Saddam Hussein's sentence of death by hanging for crimes against humanity was upheld by an Iraqi appeals court, which said it should be carried out within 30 days. The court also rejected the appeals of two others for their roles in the 1982 torture and deaths of 148 Shiites. Hussein also is being tried for genocide against ethnic Kurds, and analysts said pressure now will increase for a verdict in that case before the death sentence is carried out.

As many as 1,000 of the militants fighting for Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) have been killed in a week of fighting and others "are in full retreat," Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi said. He claimed "the majority" of the dead were from other nations, such as Eritrea. Roughly 3,500 Ethiopian troops are defending Somalia's weak interim government and reports Tuesday said they had advanced to within 40 miles of Mogadishu, the capital. A UIC spokesman, however, claimed that any attempt to capture Mogadishu would end in disaster for the attackers.

A plan for "selectively" fencing and mining the border with Afghanistan was announced by the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan. But Afghan officials rejected it. The two governments have been feuding over whether Pakistan is doing enough to stop trained terrorists from crossing the boundary to launch attacks. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the measures would be taken on Pakistani soil and that Afghanistan's consent was not required. An aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country opposes the plan because "the border is not where the problem lies."

Thirty-four articles in the Constitution should be amended next year, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told parliament Tuesday, to "open the door wide for democracy." Mubarak had promised the changes – notably to abolish the 25-year state of emergency and to make it easier for opposition parties to nominate presidential candidates – in his own campaign for the office two years ago, but none have yet come before the legislature. Critics noted that his request was couched in broad terms and said they doubted that he intended meaningful reforms.

Two ex-Soviet republics were at risk of a shortage of vital natural gas because of actions by the Russian monopoly Gazprom. It gave Belarus until Jan. 1 to accept a fivefold increase in price or the flow will be cut – although it said payment could be reduced by granting it a 50-50 partnership in a Belarussian pipeline. Meanwhile, Turkish officials disputed claims by neighboring Georgia that they'd agreed to a deal for 800 million cubic feet of gas to take up the slack in what the latter buys from Gazprom. Georgia reluctantly agreed last week to pay double the previous price for the fuel.

An election will be held Feb. 11 to choose a new president for Turkmenistan, parliament said Tuesday, amid signs of a power struggle. Saparmurat Niyazov, who died last week, left no heir-apparent. But Deputy Prime Minister Kurbanguly Berdymuk-hamedov assumed the role of acting president despite a constitutional provision that power should go to the speaker of parliament. Instead, reports said a criminal investigation had been opened against the speaker.

The danger of a destructive tsunami "has passed," scientists said after a powerful earthquake sent a wall of water 3-1/2 feet high surging toward the eastern Philippines. There were reports of property damage but no deaths from the magnitude-7.1 quake, which occurred Tuesday off the southern coast of Taiwan on the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other Indian Ocean countries.

At least 200 people died Tuesday when a pipeline exploded and caught fire in Lagos, Nigeria, as they siphoned gasoline from it. Authorities expected the number to rise because intense heat was keeping rescuers from reaching other victims. Such incidents are not uncommon in Nigeria as people tap into the pipelines to evade long lines and high prices at filling stations. In May, 150 people died under similar circumstances in Lagos.

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