Residents of smaller and poorer eastern European states were left in the cold Wednesday as the delivery by pipeline of Russian gas stopped. The situation was especially acute among Serbians, tens of thousands of whom were celebrating the Orthodox Christmas but lacked the ability to convert to the use of alternative fuels for home heating. In Bulgaria, an association of employers said the cutoff of gas was costing its members $367 million a day in lost business as they're adapting to a weakened global economy.

The lone surviving terrorist from the November siege in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) "has links to Pakistan," that nation's Information Ministry conceded Wednesday. But it said that determination had come from its own investigation, not India's. India has insisted for weeks that the man is Pakistani. The Pakistani government previously had said it couldn't find his name in its database of citizens.

Violence against Jews appeared to be increasing across Europe since Israel began its offensive in the Gaza Strip. At least 24 incidents have taken place in Britain in the past week, reports said, among them an arson attempt at a London synagogue. Similar attempts were made in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Toulouse, France. In Antwerp, Belgium, which has large Jewish and Muslim populations, leaders of both groups jointly appealed for calm.

Thirty thousand soldiers and police were guarding processions of Shiite pilgrims in Iraq for the annual observance of Ashura, the most important date on their calendar. In Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Karbala, there were a few reports of minor security breaches. But in Balad Ruz, 45 miles north of the capital, police arrested a woman carrying explosives as she tried to infiltrate a gathering of pilgrims.

Shrugging off criticism of his vacation plans, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has written opposition leaders to say he's still interested in discussing a power-sharing government, reports said. Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change have been deadlocked for months over cabinet appointments. Mugabe reportedly will spend 30 days relaxing in Malaysia despite the stalemate, Zimbabwe's barely functioning economy, and a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people.

Masked gunmen sprayed a TV station in northern Mexico with bullets and hurled a grenade at it late Tuesday in a warning to alter its coverage of drug-related violence. The attack came as the Televisa network affiliate in Monterrey was presenting its nightly newscast. No one was hurt, but the anchors appealed on the air for police protection. Future newscasts, the warning said, should "stop reporting only on us" and instead cover "the narco-officials," an apparent reference to the government, which is waging an uphill campaign against drug gangs. Many Mexican newspapers already have stopped covering the story.

The Tamil rebel movement was redesignated as a terrorist group by Sri Lanka's government Wednesday because "they are not allowing civilians to leave the war zone." The designation, which bans the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, was lifted in 2002 as the two sides began a cease-fire. But the truce ended last year, and an increasingly successful government offensive is squeezing the rebels between two forces of Army troops. A separatist website claimed "the continued support of our people will enable us to overcome current and future challenges."

Despite the heaviest sales day in its history just before Christmas, Marks & Spencer became the third British retail giant in recent weeks to announce deep cutbacks. The company said it must eliminate 1,230 jobs, close 27 stores, and, for the second time in three years, scale back pension provisions.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.