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Archive for Monday, October 21, 2002

Briefly

October 21, 2002

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Philippines: Bomb explodes near shrine

A bomb on a parked bicycle exploded near a crowded Roman Catholic shrine Sunday in the southern Philippines, killing a soldier and injuring 18 people. It was the fifth bombing this month.

The blast demolished stalls selling food, candles and other religious items outside the historical site of Fort Pilar in Zamboanga, a predominantly Christian port city about 530 miles south of Manila.

Zamboanga was the target of twin blasts that tore through two department stores last week. Investigators have yet to find or arrest those behind those explosions, which killed seven people and injured more than 150.

Sunday's bomb was concealed in either a box or a tin can and placed on a bicycle, witnesses said. The vehicle was parked near a gate to Fort Pilar a complex that includes century-old remains of a Spanish fort, a shrine to the Virgin Mary and an open-air worship area where Mass is celebrated.

Although the area was crowded with worshippers, the turnout was not as great as past Sundays because of rainy weather and fears of another attack.

Police have yet to pinpoint any group as being behind the bombings. But security officials suspect that the Zamboanga blasts may have been staged by the Abu Sayyaf which is linked to al-Qaida or Muslim separatists.

Toronto: Air France jet diverted after bomb threat received

An Air France Boeing 777 flying from Paris to Mexico City made an emergency landing after the airline received a bomb threat. No explosives were found.

The Air France office in Mexico City received the threat Sunday afternoon and the Paris office decided to divert the plane to Toronto.

The plane landed at Pearson International Airport, and just before 5 p.m. emergency crews rushed to the tarmac and surrounded the jet. The 269 passengers were evacuated, searched, and then escorted to the airport, said police Staff Sgt. Al MacIntosh.

Bomb detection dogs searched the plane, luggage and cargo for about two hours.

No explosives were found and the plane resumed its flight to Mexico City around 8:30 p.m.

France: Studies show elderly patients tolerate strong cancer drugs

Many elderly patients can tolerate powerful cancer drugs better than doctors think, according to research presented Sunday.

Half of all cancers are diagnosed after the age of 65 and experts predict that 30 years from now, elderly people will comprise 70 percent of cancer diagnoses.

However, there is no clear treatment strategy for cancer in the elderly. Most cancer drug trials exclude patients over 70 and doctors are subsequently reluctant to give the medications to older patients because they fear the side effects may be too harsh for them.

Studies presented Sunday at a meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology in Nice indicate that, at least in some cancers, elderly patients can be treated more aggressively.

"Elderly patients must be offered the same treatment options as younger patients, even if treatment of the elderly is less cost-effective," said Dr. Silvio Monfardini, president of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology, who was not connected with any of the studies.

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