It would be "madness" if the US were to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said. He warned that any use of force "would not resolve the issue," even though the US and other Western nations suspect that Iran is building a nuclear weapons program. Iran's delegate to the IAEA told a meeting in Vienna before ElBaradei spoke that his country has become "the master of uranium enrichment" and would never agree to suspending its program.
Curfews and an increased military presence kept Iraq relatively calm Thursday after the new bombing of the Shiite Golden Mosque in Samarra. But furious Shiites (some of them marching in protest, above) retaliated by attacking a handful of Sunni mosques, and at least four people were reported killed. In Baghdad, a ban on all vehicular traffic was expected to remain in place through most of the weekend.
A day of mourning was declared in Lebanon for anti-Syrian legislator Walid Eido, who died in a massive car-bomb attack Wednesday that also killed his son and eight other people.Eido's allies called the attack Syria's response to the establishment of a UN court to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Eido was a strong supporter of that tribunal.
Muslim militants were blamed for exploding a bomb during a soccer game in southern Thailand Thursday, wounding 14 policemen on guard duty – five of them critically. The attack came hours after separatists also burned 13 more public schools to the ground, bringing the number destroyed so far to almost 200. The fires, although in two separate provinces, were set almost simultaneously, police said.
A former militant leader whose freedom was demanded by armed groups who've been disrupting Nigeria's oil region was released on bail Thursday. Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is charged with treason and still must stand trial, however. He was freed after the main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, declared a truce in its campaign of kidnappings and sabotage of oil operations. But some doubt arose about the truce after government troops shot and killed eight militants, reports said Thursday.
At the current pace of inflation, Zimbabwe's economy will collapse within six months, and President Robert Mugabe may have to declare a state of emergency, according to a new report sent to UN and other international aid agencies. It notes that, at 3,714 percent, the inflation rate is the world's highest and that many businesses have begun to pay employees weekly – and in food rather than money. Unemployment is 80 percent. The UN estimates that 4 million Zimbabweans, one-third of the population, will need food aid by year's end.
Members of parliament in Nepal voted themselves the power to abolish the 240-year-old monarchy. But they said they had no immediate plans to do so and that King Gyanendra's fate hinges on whether he tries to interfere with elections for a new assembly that are scheduled for the fall. The king was stripped of his authority last year and has remained largely out of public view. The former communist rebels, now part of Nepal's interim government, have sought for a decade to topple the monarchy.
A strong earthquake triggered landslides and panic among residents of Guatemala and El Salvador Wednesday. But early reports cited no major injuries or serious property damage. Seismologists said the magnitude-6.8 quake was centered in the Pacific Ocean but was not expected to cause a tsunami.
Saying he had "little choice," Fiji's military leader ordered the expulsion of New Zealand Ambassador Michael Green. Frank Banimarama said Green had interfered in Fiji's domestic affairs. Relations between the island nation and its far larger neighbor have been strained since Banimarama seized power last December, and Prime Minister Helen Clark called the expulsion "absolutely disgraceful."