Gaza Strip

Israeli troops kill six Palestinians

Israeli tanks fired on several Palestinian houses Thursday after the army said soldiers building an embankment were attacked by rockets. At least six Palestinians were killed, including two children.

The army said the tanks targeted the houses because the rockets were fired from inside them. Palestinians said the army shot randomly into the crowded neighborhood in Rafah, a southern Gaza town near the Egyptian border.

The violence erupted as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finished talks in Washington with President Bush and others about Israel-Palestinian violence and preparations for a U.S. attack on Iraq.

Ivory Coast

Rebels sign cease-fire

Rebels signed a truce Thursday to halt a monthlong rebellion in the Ivory Coast that has killed hundreds of people. Mediators said the insurgents would hold talks with the government in a bid to return stability to the West African nation.

The fighting has forced thousands to flee their homes and unleashed long-simmering ethnic, political and religious tensions in Ivory Coast, once an oasis of stability in turbulent West Africa.

Tuo Fozie, a rebel official, signed the cease-fire with West African mediators in the central city of Bouake, which the rebels have held since the start of the uprising on Sept. 19.

The government had no representative at the signing, but mediators said Ivorian authorities provided their “verbal agreement.”

The rebel cease-fire was to begin at midnight.


Canada to regulate meth ingredients

Canada has announced regulations for the production and distribution of chemicals used to make methamphetamines, a step sought by U.S. drug authorities.

The regulations published Oct. 9 in the Government Gazette require people who produce, import and export ephedrine and pseudoephedrine precursors for methamphetamines to have licenses and permits beginning Jan. 7, 2003.

“If it’s coming in or going out or being produced, there will be a paper trail to follow that,” Andrew Swift, a spokesman for the federal health department, said Thursday.

Production and distribution of pseudoephedrine and other precursor chemicals had been mostly unregulated in Canada. U.S. officials say the availability of the chemicals in Canada contributes to methamphetamine production and use in America.

In busting a major methamphetamine ring in January, U.S. authorities seized 16 metric tons of pseudoephedrine coming from Canada.

Northern Ireland

Blair: IRA must disband for power-sharing

The Irish Republican Army must make a “real, total and permanent” commitment to peace if it wants Northern Ireland power-sharing to resume between Protestants and the outlawed group’s Sinn Fein party, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday.

Blair’s bluntly worded speech in Belfast came three days after Britain stripped the local Catholic-Protestant administration of power and assumed sole authority in the province.

The move kept the coalition technically intact. It pre-empted plans by the major British Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, to resign over a mounting list of allegations against the IRA.

But Britain’s intervention also fanned fears that power-sharing, the central achievement of the 1998 peace accord, may never be revived.

“We cannot carry on with the IRA half in, half out of this process. Not just because it isn’t right anymore it won’t work anymore,” Blair told an audience of business leaders.