A major show of force in the Persian Gulf was begun by US Navy warships and jets four days after Iran seized British sailors and marines. But a Navy commander denied that the maneuvers are a response to the Iranian actions. At the same time, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that his government is prepared for "a different phase" if negotiations fail to win the release of the 15 detainees.
Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq who have formed an alliance against Al Qaeda appeared to be the targets of a new round of terrorist attacks Tuesday. At least 36 people were killed in car-bomb explosions one day after US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called attention to the Al Qaeda strategy. Among the latest casualties was the son of a Sunni chief who has been outspoken against Al Qaeda. The target of the attack, however, appeared to be the father, police said.
Calling the people of Egypt "the real winners," President Hosni Mubarak said he was delighted at the overwhelming "yes" vote in Monday's referendum on 34 amendments to the Constitution. But he didn't mention the boycott organized by opposition groups that kept turnout to a reported 27 percent. Independent monitoring organizations put it as low as 5 percent. The government said 76 percent of voters approved of the changes, which give Mubarak the power to drive out of political life any challengers to his ruling party, notably the Muslim Brotherhood.
A bitter enemy of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo will be the country's new prime minister, the rebel movement that he commands said. Reportedly, only Gbagbo's signature was required on a decree naming New Forces chief Guillaume Soro to the post. But aides to the president were refusing to confirm the appointment. Since a civil war in 2002, Ivory Coast has been split, with rebels holding the north and Gbagbo's forces controlling the south.
Muslim separatists were blamed for shooting an electrician to death and wounding his co-worker late Monday in new violence in southern Thailand's Pattani Province. Arsonists also burned a restaurant to the ground, even as the military government cited improved security in the region because of a recently imposed curfew. Twenty companies of paramilitary rangers are due to be deployed there early next month.
Voters in Quebec returned the Liberal Party to power Monday, but by so small a margin that the French-speaking province will have its first minority government in 130 years. The outcome also dropped the separatist Partí Quebeçois to third place behind the conservative Action Democratique du Quebec, virtually ensuring that no new referendum on independence from the rest of Canada will be held in the next five years.
Leaders of the military government in Burma showed off their new capital to the world for the first time, but also lashed out at critics of their human rights record. The Information Ministry told foreign journalists that a draft of guidelines for rewriting the Constitution "is near completion," although it must be OK'd by a national convention that is only the first of seven stages in a so-called road map for a return to democracy. The new capital, Naypyitaw, is dominated by a complex that houses Gen. Than Shwe, the supreme leader, and other junta chiefs.
The world's highest-altitude airport will be the centerpiece of a $13 billion, four-year development plan for Tibet that was announced by China's government. Analysts called the plan a bid to quell dissent in the Buddhist-dominated region while improving an image tarnished by human rights abuses. In all, 180 projects are involved, among them improved electricity, telephone, and drinking water service for rural communities.