A tough Israeli response was expected to Tuesday night's suicide bombing by a Palestinian inside a pool hall near Tel Aviv. The attack, the first in almost a month, killed at least 15 people and hurt 55 others. It was condemned by Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, who ordered his security force to "confront and prevent" any further assaults against "Israeli civilians." But 12 hours later, another Palestinian bomber seriously injured himself trying to strike a bus stop near Haifa. A furious Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cut short his visit in the US and flew home, declaring "the battle is not done." (Story, page 6; opinion, page 9.)
In related developments:
Despite the new suicide bombing, the UN General Assembly OK'd an Arab-sponsored resolution condemning Israel for its assault on West Bank Palestinians last month. The US was one of four "no" votes. Seventy-four countries voted "yes"; 54 abstained.
Ending a three-day meeting in Malaysia, the Organization of the Islamic Conference called for unity in support of the Palestinians and condemned the "rude and irresponsible" Western news media for associating Islam with terrorism. But the group said all forms of extremism against "the lives of innocent people" are unacceptable.
Turkey's government said it wanted to serve as host for the international meeting on Middle East peace proposed for this summer by the US.
A bus carrying contract engineers was destroyed by a suicide bomber in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 14 people and injuring 23 others. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Muslim militants angry at President Pervez Musharraf's cooperation in the US counterterrorism war. Militants vowed additional strikes after killing worshippers at a Protestant church in March and the earlier kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Half of the casualties in the bus bombing were French nationals who'd been building a submarine. (Story, page 7.)
For the first time, 31 women will be on the ballot for municipal council elections today in Bahrain, but analysts said their prospects are limited by the combined weight of tradition and prejudice. They also are up against 276 male candidates for the 50 seats at stake. Women were permitted to vote but not to seek office in local elections in the strategic Persian Gulf archipelago, until those were discontinued in 1957.
Sixteen residences were searched by police in Hong Kong sometimes forcefully as a roundup began of mainland Chinese who have defied a court order to return by March 31. Authorities previously had relied on identity checks on the streets to catch overstayers, but that method was failing to meet the target of 2,000 expulsions. Wednesday's raid resulted in the capture of six migrants and a suspect charged with aiding and abetting overstayers.
No survivors were found in the crash of a China Northern Airlines flight from Beijing to the port city of Dalian. The plane, with 112 passengers and crew aboard, went down in coastal waters after the pilot radioed that its tail was on fire. The accident was the second of its type in China in less than a month.