New terrorist attacks in Iraq failed to steal the spotlight from the announcement that the proposed constitution had been ratified by a wide margin in the Oct. 15 national referendum. The charter attracted a 79 percent "yes" vote, the Electoral Commission said. The UN team providing technical assistance to Iraq's government said the vote-count had been audited "in a very professional way" and should be trusted. The turnout at the polls was 63 percent, despite the efforts of some Sunni leaders and terrorists to discourage participation. Meanwhile, terrorists struck again Tuesday, exploding car bombs that killed 12 people in the normally peaceful Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah. On Monday, 20 people died when a truck bomb exploded outside the Baghdad hotel where many foreign journalists stay. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rejecting new calls to resign, the pro-Syrian president of Lebanon vowed to stay in office until "the final minute" of his term. Emile Lahoud has confronted mounting pressure to leave since a special UN investigation implicated senior Syrians in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. But he has denied having any contact with a suspect in the case who, the investigation found, had placed a call to him via cellphone minutes before Hariri died in a car-bomb attack Feb. 14. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council was to take up the report on the probe Tuesday, with the Syrian government's al-Baath newspaper insisting that details in it had been "fabricated" and that council members should "be aware of this fact."
Terrorist attacks on two sides of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, were being called the boldest in months after they killed four civilians and a police academy training officer. The heavily guarded city has been spared much of the violence in other areas of the country, but the incidents late Monday and shortly before dawn Tuesday targeted a US military convoy and a police vehicle. No Americans were hurt, reports said. Also in Kabul, security forces found a cache of bombs made from old land mines and apparently intended for use against international peacekeeping units.
Worldwide concern over a potential pandemic of so-called bird flu ratcheted higher still Tuesday as:
• another human death was blamed on the virus in Indonesia - the fourth there to date;
• authorities in China reported the second outbreak in a week, this time resulting in the deaths of about 500 geese and ducks;
• Germans awaited the results of an examination of as many as 25 geese and ducks that were found dead in a lake. Germany has not previously reported any cases.
• member states of the European Union were urged by their parliament to give high priority to completing contingency plans for dealing with a pandemic.