JERUSALEM: West Bank withdrawal begins today, Israel says
Under intense American pressure, Israel said Friday it would start withdrawing its forces today from Palestinian towns beginning with the biblical town of Bethlehem and nearby Beit Jalla.
Israel had sent its troops into six Palestinian towns in the West Bank last week in a hunt for the assassins of its ultranationalist tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi. The radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed it carried out the Oct. 17 assassination.
The Israeli incursions killed 37 Palestinians, failed to net Zeevi's killers and angered the Bush administration, which is worried that further unrest will undermine support among Arab nations for its anti-terrorism campaign.
Nigeria: Lawmaker puts toll at 300 civilians killed
A Nigerian lawmaker said Friday more than 300 civilians were killed in seven villages in eastern Nigeria this week by vengeful government troops.
State officials say soldiers killed at least 130 people in raids that began Monday in Benue state.
House member Gabriel Suswam called for an international investigation to examine what caused the killings and determine how they were allowed to take place. He said he would travel soon to New York to lobby the United Nations to intervene.
Switzerland: Rescuers begin salvage after Alpine tunnel fire
An icy wind blasted through twisted, charred metal in Europe's longest Alpine highway tunnel Friday as salvage workers penetrated the "red zone" the heart of the disaster that killed at least 11 people near Airolo.
Officials have expected the toll from the fire to rise, but they were encouraged that the occupants of the first vehicles they reached Friday had apparently been able to escape.
Rescuers were able to look in the 12 vehicles in the worst-hit area, and there were no bodies inside, Piazzini said. Eleven vehicles remain to be checked, but they are in a less-damaged area.
The fire began in a head-on truck crash Wednesday. Temperatures in the tunnel soared as high as 2,200 degrees.
Puerto Rico: Vieques vote pushed back to January
The U.S. Navy on Friday postponed until January a referendum allowing Vieques residents to decide if bombing exercises should continue on their island or be halted in 2003.
The referendum, set for Nov. 6, has been in question since last month when a House defense bill included a provision to cancel the vote and require the Navy to keep using the island until a comparable training site is found. The House and Senate are to sign off on the wording of the law.
Residents of the Puerto Rican island were to decide in the vote whether the Navy should leave in 2003 or stay and pay $50 million for public works projects.
President Bush also has said the Navy should withdraw by 2003.
Belgium: Birth of royal baby sets off celebrations
Famous chocolate makers rushed to make a new confection and the post office announced the introduction of a stamp Friday as Belgium celebrated the birth of a royal baby.
Princess Elisabeth is set to become the first queen to rule the country under a new law granting women equal rights to the throne.
The first child of Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, she was born at 9:58 p.m. Thursday at Erasmus Hospital in Brussels. Elisabeth Therese Marie Helene becomes second in line to succeed King Albert II.