At least 42 soldiers were killed and 20 others were wounded at a Pakistani Army training base Wednesday when an attacker detonated an explosive belt as they engaged in morning calesthenics. Many of the wounded were reported in critical condition. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Taliban, which had vowed revenge for last week's airstrike on a Muslim madrassa in which 80 people died. The attack was the worst on Pakistan's military since President Pervez Musharraf commited it to supporting the global counterterrorism war.
An ultimatum was issued to the embattled governor of Mexico's Oaxaca State by the national Interior Ministry: prove that he can come to terms with his opponents or resign. But Gov. Ulises Ruiz's Institutional Revolutionary Party fired back, contending that the national government lacks authority to "present ultimatums to governors." Oaxaca has been in turmoil since May, when leftists and striking teachers began a campaign to oust Ruiz for alleged corruption. Eleven people have died in related violence. On Tuesday, an estimated 15,000 Ruiz supporters countered a similar-sized march by opponents the day before.
Saying, "We are not going to bow to blackmail," the leaders of Georgia's government rejected terms of a deal that would have doubled the price of fuel it buys from the natural gas monopoly in neighboring Russia. Gazprom has warned that it will cut the flow on Jan. 1 unless the Georgian government signs the new contract. Georgia and the Kremlin are locked in a bitter dispute over the arrest on spying charges last month of four Russian Army officers, and the gas-price hike is seen as another in a series of reprisals against the impoverished former Soviet republic. Prime Minister Zurab Nogideli said Georgia will seek alternative suppliers for its fuel.
Angry members of parliament in Kyrgyzstan accused President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of "cheating us again" after he appeared to agree to a move giving legislators the authority to amend the Constitution without his OK. But aides to Bakiyev later backtracked, saying he would not endorse the initiative after all. The two sides have been at odds for a week over cutting the president's powers, with thousands of their supporters staging rival demonstrations in the capital, Bishkek, and other cities.
Another day of violence wracked southern Thailand, despite the second goodwill trip to the region by new Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont in less than a week. He arrived shortly after a gunfight between Army troops and Muslim separatist guerrillas in which three combatants were killed. Surayud told teachers and students at both public and Muslim schools that he supports the Islamic way of life, but "we cannot accept separation of our land anywhere." Violence in three southern provinces has shown no sign of abating despite the new government's outreach.
After a month of inconclusive voting, Panama won election Tuesday to the Latin American seat on the UN Security Council. The decision ends a bitter fight between Guatemala, which had US support, and Venezuela, in which neither could muster the two-thirds majority in the General Assembly needed for victory. Panama, a compromise candidate, will succeed Argen-tina in the seat Jan. 1.
In a sharp new attack on the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Fiji's Army chief left open the possibility of a coup. Frank Bainimarama said, "We'll go back at them" unless Qarase changes "the direction that our ship is heading." Bainimarama had threatened to oust the prime minister before leaving to visit Fijian troops on UN peacekeeping duty in Leb-anon. While he was away, Qarase tried, but failed, to replace him. Fiji has had four coups in the past 20 years.
Share prices in Volkswagen, one of the world's leading automakers, fell Wednesday on the surprise announcement that chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder will quit at year's end. No reason was disclosed, but the company is in the midst of a cost-cutting campaign due to falling profits. It is laying off 20,000 employees and has extended working hours at its plants in Germany. Pischetsrieder recently was given an extension on his contract to 2012.