Referendum on Chavez Pledged

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan opposition leaders pledged to keep up pressure for a nonbinding referendum on President Hugo Chavez's presidency after the Supreme Court quashed a decision to hold the vote. The leaders said a nationwide strike would start as planned Monday.

The proposed referendum would be nonbinding, but opposition leaders hope that a poor showing by Chavez would increase pressure on the former army paratrooper to resign or call early elections.

Associated Press

Colombia Welcomes Declaration

Bogota, Colombia -- The Colombian government reacted positively to a declaration of a unilateral cease-fire by a paramilitary group that has waged a campaign against leftist rebels and their supporters. "It seems to be a good step forward," said presidential spokesman Ricardo Galan.

President Alvaro Uribe would consider an amnesty for the leaders of the group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the spokesman said. The loose association of right-wing militias includes more than 10,000 gunmen and has been accused of committing atrocities.

Associated Press


Radical Elected in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A radical Islamic leader who has vowed to keep U.S. troops out of his territory was elected yesterday to the top post in a Pakistani border province where American officials believe Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives are hiding.

Akram Durrani of the United Action Forum religious coalition was sworn in as chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan.

In a speech after his election, Durrani vowed to strengthen Islamic rules in the territory.

Associated Press


Gunmen's Homes Destroyed

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israeli troops blew up the homes of two Palestinian gunmen who attacked an office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party during a primary vote, killing six Israelis.

The gunmen, cousins from a West Bank village, were members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia linked to the Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In the Gaza Strip, two gunmen dispatched by the militant Islamic Hamas movement opened fire in the Jewish settlement of Dolah, wounding two Thai workers and an Israeli. One of the gunmen was killed.

In the house demolitions, Israeli troops entered the West Bank village of Jalboun before dawn and blew up the homes of the Beit Shean gunmen Omar and Yousef Abu Rub, both in their twenties, who were killed in Thursday's attack.

Eighteen people were left homeless by the demolitions.

Associated Press


A U.N. war crimes tribunal convicted Mitar Vasiljevic, a Bosnian Serb, of murdering five men during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia because they were Muslims, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. . . . Sweden will hold a referendum next September to decide whether to adopt the euro, the European common currency, the country's political leaders decided. . . . A high court in Denmark upheld a ruling restricting the movement of former Iraqi army chief of staff Nizar Khazraji to prevent him from avoiding possible prosecution for war crimes, a court spokeswoman said.