Muslims vented more fury at the publication of cartoon likenesses of the prophet Muhammad, but the number of newspapers reprinting them also grew. Dailies in Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands joined those from Denmark, Norway, France, and Germany that have run some or all of the caricatures. Others in Switzerland and Hungary further angered Muslims by printing another cartoon in which an imam asks terrorist bombers to stop because the heavenly reward they'd been promised has been used up. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said freedom of the press in European countries was no excuse for insulting religions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a "firm response to such disgraceful acts." Saudi Arabia and Syria recalled their ambassadors to Denmark and Libya closed its embassy there, although the newspaper that first published the cartoons apologized for causing offense to Muslims. Other protests came from Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad and Fatah militants declared the local office of the European Union closed and said they'd target nationals from any of the countries involved unless their governments apologized by Thursday night.
Angry farmers forced the government of South Korea to cut short a mandatory public hearing at which details were to be offered on its decision to negotiate a free-trade pact with the US. The protesters said such a deal would ruin their livelihoods and demanded financial compensation even before the talks open. The government declined to say when the negotiations would begin. South Korea is the US's seventh-largest trading partner.
Built-up carbon monoxide exploded inside another coal mine in China, killing at least 23 men, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Fifty-three others were hospitalized after inhaling poisonous fumes. Xinhua said 697 miners were working underground at the time of the blast Wednesday, but it offered no details on the status of the others. The state-owned mine, at Sihe in northern Shanxi Province, is one of China's largest. The accident came as Xinhua was reporting the closure of 4,876 illegal mines in the province "to ensure safety in coal production." China produces one-third of the world's coal but also has the world's worst mine-safety record.
A new wave of violence erupted in Muslim-dominated southern Thailand Thursday, but the number of casualties was far smaller than it might have been, authorities said. Two people were killed when an apparently remote-controlled bomb exploded under the pickup truck in which they were riding. It went off 50 feet from an office of the district government in Joh Airong, Narathiwat Province, where a meeting of 200 village officials was to be held. Another explosion killed a policeman who was helping to escort teachers home from their school. More than 1,100 people have died in bombing attacks, drive-by shootings, and other violence in southern Thailand since Muslims escalated a separatist campaign in January 2004.
Campaigning was ordered to end Sunday night for the long-delayed presidential election in Haiti, and no further opinion polling will be permitted, the interim government announced. Prime Minister Gerard Latortue also said news outlets may not carry any but "official" results of the voting. "We are going to prove that we can be firm with those who will seek to stir violence," he told a news conference in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Tuesday's contest, which pits ex-President René Preval against more than 30 rivals, was to have been held last November but has been postponed repeatedly amid concerns about political violence. Hundreds of people have been killed in the two years since rebellious Haitians drove President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile.