U.N.: Worldwide opium production on the rise
Worldwide opium production is increasing, driven by a sharp rise in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the United Nations said Friday in a report released in Russia, one of the prime routes for Afghan opium and heroin reaching the West.
Opium poppy cultivation declined in two major producing countries, Myanmar and Laos, the 2004 World Drug Report said. But Afghanistan has more than made up for the shortfall because of a production increase and a higher yield per acre than in Southeast Asia.
Afghanistan was responsible for three-quarters of the world's illegal opium supply and for a 5 percent increase in the world supply between 2002 and 2003, the report said.
Two Palestinians killed in curfew enforcement
Israeli soldiers enforcing a curfew in Nablus killed two Palestinians and seriously wounded two Friday, the second day of a large-scale search for fugitives and bomb labs in the West Bank city.
In one incident, members of a Palestinian family were hit by army fire on their balcony, killing a 19-year-old man and seriously wounding his father and brother with shots to the head and face, witnesses and medics said.
The military said soldiers opened fire after spotting suspicious figures crawling on the roof of a building.
Soldiers also opened fire on an 18-year-old on a rooftop after spotting him holding a gas canister over his head. The army said soldiers feared he was about to drop the canister on them.
Annan not ready to send troops to Sudan
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday he was not ready "to send in the cavalry" to protect Sudanese civilians, but he urged all countries to consider committing troops if the government does not disarm Arab militias in western Darfur.
Annan said he was heading to Sudan for a firsthand assessment of the 16-month conflict there and would join Secretary of State Colin Powell in the capital, Khartoum, next week "to put collective pressure on the government to do what it has to do."
The secretary-general said members of the U.N. Security Council and other countries with influence on Khartoum must pressure the Sudanese government to stop the fighting.
The conflict "is bordering on ethnic cleansing," he said.
Tanker truck crashes into buses, killing 71
A gasoline tanker truck slammed into a row of packed buses, setting off fiery explosions that killed at least 71 people and injured 108 in southeastern Iran, officials said Friday.
Many of the victims were burned alive because firefighting equipment had to arrive from Zahedan, about 70 miles away, said Heidar Ali Nouraei, the city's governor.
The buses, along with a truck containing tar, were parked at a police station on the main highway between Zahedan and Bam, nearly 700 miles southeast of Tehran, when the accident occurred late Thursday night.
The driver of the tanker, which was carrying 4,680 gallons of fuel, apparently lost control -- perhaps due to a steering failure -- and his vehicle slammed into the buses and the other truck, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.