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WORLD IN BRIEF

Thursday, October 7, 2004; Page A26

2 Blasts Kill at Least 36 At Gathering in Pakistan

MULTAN, Pakistan -- Two bombs exploded at a gathering of Islamic radicals in central Pakistan before dawn Thursday, killing at least 36 people and injuring about 100, police said.

Police immediately suspected a sectarian attack. On Friday, a suicide attack killed 31 at a Shiite mosque in an eastern city.

Thursday's blasts came as about 3,000 people in Multan were marking the first anniversary of the death of Azam Tariq, head of the outlawed Sipah-i-Sahaba group, who was killed in an attack blamed on Shiite Muslim militants. His group has been accused of killing hundreds of minority Shiite Muslims in recent years.

A car bomb exploded near the site in a residential neighborhood, and within minutes a second bomb attached to a motorcycle went off, a police official said.

ASIA

• PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- King Norodom Sihanouk abdicated Thursday because of poor health and asked the people of Cambodia to begin a search for a successor, the head of the National Assembly said.

The king, 81, made the announcement in a letter from Beijing, where he has been undergoing medical treatment. The note was read to the National Assembly by his son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is also head of the assembly.

Cambodia's monarch is not selected according to heredity, but must have a royal bloodline.

With the statement, Sihanouk included a Sept. 4 letter signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Ranariddh, who are partners in the current government, proposing Prince Norodom Sihamoni "to be the future king." Sihamoni, 51, is Sihanouk's son with Queen Monineath.

EUROPE

VIENNA -- Brazil has tentatively agreed to let the U.N. atomic agency view parts of its equipment used to enrich uranium -- a deal that would end squabbling over access to technology that can be used to build nuclear weapons, diplomats said Wednesday.

The diplomats said the International Atomic Energy Agency was satisfied that the agreement would allow its inspectors to verify that uranium is neither enriched to weapons-grade levels nor diverted to other sites.

• CHERBOURG, France -- A heavily guarded convoy transporting U.S. weapons-grade plutonium left a plant in northern France on Thursday to be driven nearly 660 miles to a southeastern factory for recycling.

Environmental activists are worried about the safety of the shipment, which arrived in the port of Cherbourg on Wednesday after a more than two-week journey from Charleston, S.C. The program is part of a post-Cold War agreement between the United States and Russia to get rid of plutonium from excess nuclear warheads.


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