A daily summary of top stories from around the world
Russia and Israel both cast doubt on the announcement by Iranian leaders Monday that their nuclear program now can enrich uranium on "an industrial level." Russia's Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of "any technological breakthroughs" that would make the claim possible. Senior Israelis said Iran "does not have what [it] is boasting about." Still, Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday that plans call for an even further expansion of enrichment capacity to 50,000 centrifuges – more than 16 times the number claimed in Monday's announcement.
A female terrorist detonated explosives under her clothing in the Sunni town of Muqdadiya, Iraq, Tuesday, killing herself and at least 16 would-be police recruits. Thirty-three others were hurt. In eastern Baghdad, Iraqi and US forces were fighting the most intense battle against Sunni militants since the start of the security crackdown there in February.
Tensions were running high between African neighbors Sudan and Chad after the latter reportedly sent troops across their border in pursuit of janjaweed militiamen retreating into Darfur. The Chadians were confronted by Sudanese soldiers, 17 of whom were said to have died in the fighting. Chad denied the incursion, but Sudan's government vowed a "strong" response that could include military action. Chadian officials estimate that at least 65 people were killed when janjaweed militiamen infiltrated 10 days ago to attack camps for Darfur refugees. UN officials put the number as high as 400.
Another bomb went off in front of a shopping mall in Bangkok late Monday, prompting a security alert that applies to all of Thailand. No one was hurt, but the blast evoked memories of the Dec. 31, 2006, explosions outside the same complex that helped to spread panic across the city. With Buddhist New Year celebrations starting Friday, the military-backed government said "resources" assigned to the Muslim separatist campaign in southern provinces would be diverted to Bangkok to provide greater protection there.
The highest-ranking court in Ukraine scheduled a hearing Wednesday on President Viktor Yushchenko's order dissolving parliament and scheduling an early election to replace its members. Unless the order is ruled unconstitutional, the vote will be held May 27. Yushchenko's move has brought on the worst political crisis since the 2004 so-called Orange Revolution in the ex-Soviet republic that brought him to power. There was no early indication which way the Constitutional Court will rule, but a lower court Tuesday enjoined the Elections Commission from organizing the May 27 vote.
A runoff election for president appeared almost certain in East Timor, officials said Tuesday, although they cautioned that ballots from rural areas that are strongholds of the dominant Fretilin Party still were arriving at the counting center in Dili, the capital. Prime Minister and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta and Fernando de Araujo of the Democratic Party were in a close battle for the lead over six rivals, but "perhaps no candidate will win more than 50 percent," an Elections Commission spokesman said. If necessary, the runoff will be held May 8.
A passing taxi driver was killed, 34 other people were hurt, and dozens of nearby buildings were damaged when a car bomb exploded Monday outside police headquarters in Calí, Colombia. Suspicion fell on the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), the nation's main leftist rebel group, and analysts saw the attack as a possible return to the campaign of urban terrorism that was abandoned four years ago. Its timing also raised questions, since FARC's smaller rival, the National Liberation Army, is scheduled to meet with government negotiators later this week to discuss a peace agreement.