Mortar rounds exploded on a market in Baghdad, killing at least eight people, and a terrorist bomber triggered his explosive vest aboard a bus, causing two more deaths Wednesday. The incidents reinforced the image of an out-of-control Iraq as President Bush was receiving a long-awaited set of recommendations on changing US policy there.
The already difficult negotiations over renewing the US lease of a vital military air base in Kyrgyzstan were complicated further Wednesday after an American guard fatally shot a civilian fuel truck driver. The incident took place at a checkpoint at the base that is manned by US Air Force personnel, and American Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch promised a full investigation in a note of regret to Kyrgyz officials. The base supports US operations in nearby Afghanistan.
Previous attempts to enforce the antiterrorism law in Sri Lanka haven't been effective, so the government will crack down harder, the prime minister announced Wednesday. But he said there would be no resumption of a ban on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was dropped when the two sides agreed to a truce in September 2002. Neither has formally backed out of that truce, even though the nation is at the brink of civil war. LTTE supporters have warned that a reimposition of the ban would end all peace efforts. The antiterrorism act allows security forces to make arrests without warrants, to hold detainees for up to six months, and to raid or even demolish any property that is considered a threat to public order.
Militant Muslim separatists stepped up their campaign of violence in Thailand Wednesday, killing seven more people – two of them policemen. If anything, analysts told the Asia Times newspaper, attacks by separatists in southern Yala, Pattani, and Narathwiat provinces have increased since new Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont extended the first of several goodwill gestures to the Muslim majority there Nov. 2. Almost 1,800 people have been killed since the separatist campaign began in January 2004.
New military ruler Frank Bainimarama decreed a state of emergency in Fiji Wednesday and warned that political dissent would be met with "force ... very quickly." The move followed the ouster of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who was put aboard a plane and flown out of the capital, Suva, to his home on an outlying island. Qarase told a radio interviewer he still considers himself the "legal" head of government, but Bainimarama said he "and his cronies are not coming back." The Army chief swore in Army physician Jona Senilagakali as Qarase's successor and said a new election would restore democracy "eventually."
Over the objection of right-to-life groups and Prime Minister John Howard, Australia's lower house of Parliament voted 82-62 to end a controversial ban on cloning human embryos for stem-cell research. The measure previously passed in the Senate, although by only two votes. It will not take effect for about six months, however, while medical and scientific authorities draft licensing guidelines. Howard and opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd both said they couldn't support the bill but encouraged other legislators to vote their consciences.
Sabotage was ruled out as the cause of the worst breakdown in the history of Brazil's air traffic control system. Authorities finally lifted a ban on takeoffs from three major airports Wed-nesday, but ticket sales remained suspended until the situation was fully resolved. International flights were not affected, nor was the heavily used shuttle service between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Travelers already were putting up with delays stemming from the Sept. 29 collision between an executive jet and an airliner on a domestic flight that killed 154 people. That accident is still being investigated.