An already "tough week" for US forces in Iraq worsened Sunday as a heavy Chinook helicopter crashed near the volatile city of Fallujah, killing at least 15 soldiers headed for recreational leave abroad. Twenty-one others were hurt. The cause of the incident appeared to be a missile strike from the ground, according to witnesses, although the US command said it remained under investigation. The troubled week began with a rocket barrage Oct. 23 against Baghdad's Al Rasheed Hotel and also included bomb attacks against Red Cross headquarters, several police stations, and an oil pipeline. Terrorists also intimidated many Iraqis into obeying a call for a three-day general strike.
Turnout was heavy for an election to choose members of Georgia's parliament, some of whom may emerge as prime candidates to succeed President Eduard Shevardnadze in 2005. The two-term leader has dominated politics in the ex-Soviet republic since 1972 but has become widely unpopular because of his failures to halt corruption, raise living standards, or modernize the deteriorating infrastructure. Shevardnadze is constitutionally ineligible to seek reelection, and analysts say no obvious successor is on the scene.
In a new blow against the only independent daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's government filed papers seeking to overturn an appeals court ruling that allows it to resume publishing. The move, before the Supreme Court, has the effect of freezing the lower court ruling in favor of the Daily News, a frequent critic of Mugabe's hard-line rule. After that ruling Oct. 24, the newspaper published one issue before police shut it down again, occupying its offices and arresting members of the staff and its board of directors.
Government and rebel representatives signed a peace agreement that calls for ending Burundi's 10-year civil war. The accord, finalized Sunday in neutral South Africa, gives the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), the largest rebel movement, temporary immunity from prosecution, a role in the transitional government that's to be formed within three weeks, and the right to organize a political party. It also integrates FDD fighters into the Army. But skeptics noted that Burudni's second-largest rebel group not only has refused to negotiate but also clashed with Army units on the outskirts of Bujumbura, the capital, as recently as last week.