Marking their fifth anniversary in control of Afghanistan, the Taliban ratcheted up their rhetoric against the US and any Afghans "who want to come to power with the help of American forces." Mullah Muhamad Omar, the Taliban chief, suggested that Afghans who collaborate with the US in trying to topple his regime and in capturing Osama bin Laden would be dealt with as was President Najibullah in 1996. The pro-Soviet leader was beaten, shot, and hanged on a Kabul street as the Taliban seized the capital. But reports said the allegiance of key Taliban allies in four eastern provinces was wavering. And in Pakistan, "some people" suspected of having close ties to bin Laden were detained "for intensive interrogation."
The US ambassador to Indonesia complained of inadequate protection for Americans there after an estimated 1,000 Muslim protesters thronged the embassy in Jakarta, threatening to "sweep" the country for foreign nationals whose governments support any future attack on Afghanistan, and torching the US flag (below) and effigies of President Bush. In Washington, the State Department advised Americans to put off travel plans to the world's largest Islamic nation, and some nonessential embassy staffers were preparing to leave for their safety. Meanwhile, police ringed the US embassy in Niger without saying why. The African nation is 90 percent Muslim.
The first international election monitors arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to oversee Monday's voting for a new Parliament. But the preelection violence worsened in the impoverished country as two homemade bombs exploded prematurely, upping the casualty count to 125 deaths and thousands of injuries. The election pits caretaker Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against her predecessor and bitter rival, Begum Khaleda Zia.
Hours of rioting by militant Protestants in the Ardoyne district of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Wednesday night resulted in injuries to 33 policemen. The atmosphere remained tense Thursday as Catholic parents accompanied their children to school amid Protestant jeering and blaring car horns. Police said they returned live fire for the first time in three months when one of their vehicles was fired upon, although no one was hurt. The violence was blamed on members of the outlawed Ulster Defense Association.
A gunman dressed as a police officer emptied five magazines of bullets and detonated a grenade inside a regional parliament house in Zug, Switzerland, killing at least 14 people before committing suicide. Sixteen others were wounded, many of them critically. The assailant left a note indicating he bore a grievance against local authorities, reports said.