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Archive for Monday, December 29, 2003

Briefly

December 29, 2003

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California

No more survivors expected in mudslide

Hope dimmed for survivors of a devastating mudslide at a mountain church camp as crews focused on recovering bodies. Officials warned that heavy rain forecast for today could bring more destruction.

"It's been several days, and our hopes are not high of finding people alive," said Chip Patterson, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The Christmas Day slide crashed into St. Sophia Camp in an area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Twelve bodies have been found near St. Sophia Camp. A teenager and an infant remain unaccounted for.

Jerusalem

Israel earmarks settlements to destroy

Israeli leaders signed orders to evacuate four settlement outposts in the West Bank, Israeli media reported.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed a prominent military officer to oversee his unilateral disengagement plan. Sharon said earlier this month that he was considering abandoning efforts to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of a self-imposed disengagement from parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Channel Two TV and Israel TV said Sharon and his defense minister ordered the removal of four of the dozens of outposts that the "road map" peace plan requires Israel to dismantle. All four are in the West Bank and are inhabited, the reports said, adding that settlers would be given 10 days to appeal.

Libya

U.N. permitted to inspect weapon sites

In a major step toward disarmament, Libya on Sunday for the first time let U.N. nuclear officials inspect four sites related to its nuclear weapons program, all previously cloaked in secrecy.

The visits led by the chief U.N. weapons inspector Mohamed ElBaradei are part of an international effort to ensure the North African state has no weapons of mass destruction. They followed the surprise announcement by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi more than a week ago that his country would abandon its pursuit of such weapons.

ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, visited the four nuclear sites in the capital, Tripoli, accompanied by a team of inspectors also from the Vienna, Austria-based agency.

Afghanistan

Suicide bombing kills Afghani agents

An apparent suicide bomber killed four intelligence agents, their driver and himself Sunday in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the latest violent incident during a closely guarded convention drawing up the country's first post-Taliban constitution.

The suspect detonated explosives concealed under his clothing moments after the agents bundled him into a sport utility vehicle near the airport, Kabul Police Chief Baba Jan said.

The police chief said the suspect was a foreigner but refused to identify him further, and other officials said identification was difficult because the bodies were so mutilated.

"They had just arrested him with explosives," Jan told reporters near the scene. "This guy had more explosives on his body, and when they took him inside the car, he blew himself up."

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