The surgeon-general of Pakistan's Army, his driver, and a bodyguard were killed Monday when a terrorist reportedly ran in front of their car and detonated a powerful bomb. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but analysts predicted the incident would revive concerns over Islamist militancy. The attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi was the first of its type since last week's general election but the second this month. Six people died in a blast targeting a military bus Feb. 4. The city also was the scene of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination in December.
"Economic revival is our most urgent task," Lee Myung Bak told an estimated 60,000 people in accepting his oath of office (above) as the first conservative president of South Korea in a decade. He also is the first to come from a business background. Lee said he'll work for prosperity in communist North Korea as well, provided the latter abandons its nuclear weapons.
Schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip were given the day off to join a mass protest by Palestinians aimed at drawing new attention to Israel's blockade. But the turnout (some of it above) fell far short of the organizers' goal of a human chain stretching the entire length of the strip. Israel mobilized thousands of troops and police along the boundary as a precaution, but few incidents were reported. Tension in Gaza has been high since the border fence with Egypt was breached by Hamas militants last month.
Across Africa, attention is expected to be riveted Tuesday on the capital of Nigeria, where a panel of judges is due to rule on the validity of President Umaru Yar'Adua's election. At stake is the leadership of the continent's most populous country. His victory is being challenged by his two closest rivals, who claim the voting last spring was rigged. Either side may appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court if it loses, a move that probably would prolong the legal fight for months.
Thirty-four years of division could end before 2008 is over, the leader of Cyprus' Turkish community said Monday. Mehmet Ali Talat, in his first public comment on the election of Communist Party chief Dimitris Christofias to the presidency of Greek Cyprus, said voters "decided on change [and] chose a person who can make that change." Christofias has pledged to restart negotiations on reunification of the island and to meet with Talat, although no dates for either have been announced.
In the first sign of progress in Belgium's 7-1/2-month political stalemate, a majority of its Dutch- and French-speaking parties agreed Monday on a formula for limited constitutional reform. The plan calls for both regions to take over some responsibility from the federal government for economic, industrial, housing, and farming policy.
A tsunami warning was lifted Monday after the second powerful earthquake in two days occurred in the Indian Ocean off Indonesia. Although residents of Sumatra island fled their homes in panic, there were no immediate reports of casualties from the magnitude-7.3 quake. Last Wednesday, a strong quake off Sumatra killed at least three people, and 25 died in an 8.4-magnitude temblor last September.
Traveling unescorted and in street clothes, four women from the United Arab Emirates wound up a tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi by car to show that "we can do what men can do." They told a news conference they encountered some opposition for breaking the tradition of being accompanied by male relatives but also were welcomed at historical sites, museums, and other stops on the four-day trip. The trip was organized by a travel magazine whose editor said it would sponsor other groups of women for similar trips later.