A terrorist bomber killed himself and 32 other people as they gathered for the burial of a noted Shiite in a town 60 miles north of Baghdad Wednesday. The wounded numbered more than 40, reports said. The attack was one of several in the deadliest day in Iraq since its Dec. 15 parliamentary election. In all, 53 people died in the incidents, which threatened to overshadow efforts by the largest Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni political parties to come up with a nominee for prime minister.
In another embarrassment to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, gunmen of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade commandeered bulldozers and smashed through one wall of the barricade between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The incident appeared aimed at pressuring Abbas's security forces to release a local leader who'd been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of three Britons last week.
A deal aimed at easing the tension between Russia and Ukraine over the supply of natural gas was announced Wed-nesday, and the latter's president portrayed it as a way to wean his country off the barter system of the Soviet era. "The Ukrainian economy is now completely ready for new market conditions," Viktor Yushchenko said. The five-year deal raises the price Ukraine must pay for each 1,000 cubic feet of gas from $50 to $230. But when extra supplies flowing from other former Soviet republics such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are factored in, the import price drops to an average of $95, officials said. Ukraine had sought a raise to only $80.