More than 100 people were killed or hurt and property was damaged heavily in bombings that targeted a mainly Christian neighborhood in Baghdad Wednesday. Anguished residents asked why they were being attacked, since they are neither Shiite nor Sunni. In a nearby section of the city, at least nine others died and 51 were wounded when terrorists set off bombs as the motorcade of Industry Minister Fawzi al-Hariri was making a stop for fuel. Hariri, a Kurd, reportedly was not there at the time of the attack. Meanwhile, the government suspended hundreds of policemen and ordered that they undergo further training because of suspected "complicity" with sectarian "death squads." Some of the police, among them the commander, were under investigation, a government spokesman said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted Wednesday that he may well dissolve the Hamas-led government and said dialogue with the militant organization on forming a unity coalition is "over now, and we have to start from square one." Hamas leaders warned against such a move, calling it "a coup," and said "the alternatives will be painful." Analysts say the dissolution could trigger a Palestinian civil war. Abbas was to meet later in the day with visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has urged an end to the Palestinian infighting because it is hurting "innocents." At least 12 Palestinians have died in violence in recent days, the latest a Hamas leader who was gunned down in Qalqilya in the West Bank a day after the rival Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatened to kill men of his rank.
Only hours after Tamil separatist rebels in Sri Lanka agreed to return to peace negotiations with the government, that prospect appeared to dim again Wednesday. Air Force jets pounded rebel mortar batteries in retaliation for strikes on government positions along the de facto front line in the north of the nation. In Colombo, the capital, police defused a powerful bomb that had been planted in a trash dump near a dining hall used by senior officers. A police spokesman said, "It's definitely by the LTTE," the acronym of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
No longer does the Irish Republican Army appear to be a threat to security in Northern Ireland, a blue-ribbon panel of security experts said Wednesday, in a report designed to promote resumed political cooperation there between Protestants and Catholics. The document was welcomed by the governments of Britain and the Irish Republic as "of the utmost importance and significance." But the Rev. Ian Paisley, the leading Protestant politician in Ulster, was seeking urgent consultations with the panel to satisfy himself that IRA progress on demilitarization is genuine and cannot be reversed, The Times (London) reported.
In scathing terms, President Vladimir Putin warned that he "would not allow anyone to talk to Russia in the language of provocation and blackmail," adding: "I say this in reference to Georgia." Tensions rose still higher Wednesday in their latest confrontation, as Russia's parliament appeared ready to pass a resolution condemning the ex-Soviet republic for its arrest last week of four Army officers on suspicion of spying. Lawmakers also are considering legislation that would forbid Georgians who work in Russia from mailing some of their pay home, a vital source of income for relatives. In addition, authorities in Moscow closed two casinos operated by Georgians, and police were raiding other businesses they run. For its part, Georgia vowed to block Russia's application to join the World Trade Organization until the crisis ends.
Army troops were back on the attack against rebel units of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda Wednesday, despite the cease-fire agreed to by both sides in late August. A military spokesman said the rebels had only partially met the Sept. 19 deadline to leave their hiding places and gather at two special assembly camps in neighboring Sudan. Negotiations on a permanent peace deal are continuing, but the two sides repeatedly have accused each other of violating the terms of the truce. A rebel spokesman protested that his fighters needed more time to comply with the agreement and told Reuters they "will not do any harm" to the Army or to civilians.