Once again, Islamist separatists were suspected of a terrorist attack against their own community in southern Thailand after someone threw a grenade into a mosque during morning prayers Thursday. Fourteen people were hurt, among them a child. The attack, in Yala Province, came despite a curfew imposed by the Army and police last month. An Army commander rejected claims that it was an act of revenge by Buddhists, who are regularly targeted by the separatists, and suggested that the attackers were Muslims seeking to raise tensions between the two communities even higher.
The largest crowds of Christians in years were visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and other religious sites in Jerusalem as Easter weekend approached, due to a marked decrease in violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Clergymen in the Old City said the influx was causing them to establish strict schedules for each of five denomintions to conduct services, since their calendars called for Holy Week festivities to be celebrated concurrently for the first time in four years.
Three British Muslims are due in court Saturday after being charged with conspiracy in the bombing attacks that killed 52 people in London's transit system in July 2005. Police said additional arrests in the case are "highly likely."
Leftist President Rafael Correa of Ecuador won another victory over his conservative political opponents Wednesday when the nation's highest court rejected a petition by 57 ousted members of Congress to be reinstated. Their suit didn't meet all technical requirements, the justices ruled. The 57 lawmakers were fired last month by Ecuador's Electoral Tribunal on grounds that they were interfering with the referendum Correa had scheduled on rewriting the Constitution to dilute the influence of conservative parties. The referendum is to be held a week from Sunday.
Calm returned to the streets of East Timor's capital Thursday as voters prepared to choose a new president next week. But outgoing incumbent Xanana Gusmao told interviewers he worried about a new "spiral of violence" if the leading party's candidate loses. Fretilin's Francisco Guterres is among the front-runners in a field of eight, but he faces a strong challenge by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jose Ramos Horta.
Police blasted protesters with water cannon and tear gas in the streets of Santiago, Chile, Wednesday as hundreds of angry students resumed demonstrations that have tested the government of Socialist President Michelle Bachelet since she took office. The protest was the second in a week against inefficiencies in the city's public transit system. Almost 100 students were arrested, on top of more than 800 who were taken into custody late last week. Bachelet has acknowledged problems in the transit system but warned that no further violence will be tolerated.
Homosexuals who own computers in China were anticipating the webcast of their first TV show Thursday. A series of 12 one-hour programs produced in Hong Kong is seen as an indication that attitudes toward that lifestyle are changing, analysts said. As recently as 2001, homosexuality was classified as a form of mental illness in China and persons of that orientation often were persecuted, jailed, or even executed.
Heavy security precautions weren't needed in Jakarta, Indonesia, after all Thursday despite the outcome of a high-profile trial involving the local editor of Playboy magazine. He was charged with publishing indecent material, although the Indonesian edition, unlike its US counterpart, features no nudity. Hard-line Muslims, whose protests drove Playboy's offices out of the capital, threatened "war" if he was acquitted. But they dispersed without incident after a court dismissed the charge on a technicality.