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Saturday, April 2, 2005; Page A17

Abbas Fires Officials Overseeing Security

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, fired several security chiefs on Friday for failing to halt lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza, two days after gunmen from his Fatah faction fired at his compound.

The head of Palestinian national security in the West Bank, Haj Ismail, also quit after the president called for his resignation, a senior Palestinian security official said. Abbas has yet to approve it.

Aid workers help to deliver food supplies in Gunungsitoli, which was wracked by an earthquake on Monday night. Four international rescue teams have been searching roughly 200 shattered buildings in the capital. (Crack Palinggi -- Reuters)

Abbas "was not happy with the performance of some of the heads of security forces," a Palestinian official said. "He was very upset about what happened in Ramallah and he will take other crucial measures in the near future."

Abbas, elected in January after Yasser Arafat's death, is struggling to impose law and order, and to reform corruption-tainted security forces after securing a truce with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. More police have been deployed in the West Bank city of Ramallah since the truce was reached.

Several militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fired at Abbas's compound in Ramallah on Wednesday. They then rampaged through the city after security commanders urged them to put aside their weapons.


GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Police said two American missionaries had been found slain at a farm they rented in southwestern Guyana near the border with Brazil.

Residents of the San Jose district, about 12 miles outside the regional capital of Lethem, speculated robbery was the likely motive.

The bodies of Richard Hicks, 42, and his wife, Charlene 58, were found Thursday; they were probably killed Wednesday night, police said.


MADRID -- At least 12 people were arrested in connection with last year's train bombings in Madrid.

The Interior Ministry said six Moroccans, three Syrians, one Egyptian, one Palestinian and one Algerian were arrested in raids in and around the city.

Four of the Moroccans are brothers linked to another Moroccan, Youssef Belhadj, suspected of being a key al Qaeda figure. Belhadj was extradited Friday from Belgium to Spain.

SUKHUMI, Georgia -- Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the prime minister of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, wounding a driver, according to the vice premier.

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