Sunday, May 7, 2006

Palestinians Strike Over Nonpayment of Salaries

GAZA CITY -- Hundreds of Palestinians staged strikes and demonstrations Saturday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demand payment of salaries to government workers -- early signs of discontent with the Hamas-led cabinet's handling of a growing financial crisis.

The unrest occurred ahead of a meeting in Gaza between Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two, involved in a power struggle since Hamas defeated Abbas's more moderate Fatah party in January legislative elections, failed to resolve their differences during four hours of talks but agreed to meet again Sunday.

In the West Bank, teachers at five schools in Hebron canceled classes, and in Nablus, hundreds of government workers demonstrated to demand their salaries. About 150 people, mostly women and children, rallied in the Gaza city of Rafah, criticizing the government for the growing hardship.

In an unrelated incident early Sunday in Hebron, at least 13 Israeli police officers were injured and five Jewish settlers were arrested in clashes before forces began dragging settlers out of a Palestinian house they had been occupying.

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· ATHENS -- Groups of hooded anarchists torched at least four banks, smashed shop windows and threw gasoline bombs at police buses during an anti-globalization and antiwar march in central Athens.

One policeman and two demonstrators were injured, and 30 suspected rioters were detained, authorities said.

· DUBROVNIK, Croatia -- Vice President Cheney met with Croatian leaders and went sightseeing with his wife on the final stop of a three-nation trip overseas.

Standing next to Prime Minister Ivo Sander, Cheney said the United States is "strongly supportive of Croatia becoming a full member of the trans-Atlantic community, in terms of working with NATO and the E.U."

· VATICAN CITY -- China will appoint a Catholic bishop approved by the Vatican on Sunday, days after Pope Benedict XVI condemned the unilateral ordination of two other bishops by Beijing, a Vatican-affiliated news agency reported.


· SINGAPORE -- Final results in Singapore's parliamentary elections released Saturday showed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's People's Action Party claiming 82 of 84 seats in Parliament, including 37 uncontested seats.


· FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- Twenty-one of the chimpanzees that fled a preserve and mauled a group of sightseers -- killing their driver -- have returned, but the leader is still on the loose "out on the hills," the sanctuary's director said Saturday.

In all, 31 chimpanzees escaped two weeks ago by using sticks to get out through a sliding metal door, said Balasingam Amarasekeran, head of the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary outside Freetown.

--From News Services

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