ASIA

U.S. Deploys B-52

In Afghan Combat

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A B-52 bomber was called into combat for the first time in five months yesterday to protect U.S. Special Forces troops battling armed Afghans outside an American base.

No U.S. soldiers were injured during the shootout in western Afghanistan, but at least 11 Afghans were killed in factional fighting, U.S. and local officials said.

The last time U.S. forces reported using a B-52 in combat in Afghanistan was during a July 1 attack in central Uruzgan province, when Afghan authorities said 48 civilians were killed and 117 were injured.

Associated Press

Bangladesh Stampede

Kills at Least 36

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A stampede killed at least 36 people in northern Bangladesh, most of them women and children, police said.

Several hundred poor people had been trying to force their way into the compound of a rich businessman who was giving away clothes and money ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival, a journalist quoted a Red Crescent official as saying.

A wall and an iron gate at the compound collapsed, triggering the stampede.

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, who is visiting Saudi Arabia, expressed shock over the loss of life, sent her condolences to the victims' families and ordered an investigation, officials said.

Reuters

EUROPE

Handling of Oil Spill

Brings Protest in Spain

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed Galicia's capital to protest the government's handling of a tanker disaster as a new wave of fuel oil hit Spanish beaches.

The streets of Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage center in northwestern Spain, were thronged with marchers upset by the destruction wrought on the region's environment and fisheries after the tanker Prestige spilled oil.

Organizers of the demonstration, held under the slogan "Never Again," estimated that up to 200,000 people marched in the rain.

The Prestige was carrying about 20 million gallons of oil when it ruptured Nov. 13 in a storm.

Bad weather hampered the work of eight cleanup ships, from across Europe, which have scooped up about 800,000 gallons of fuel oil from the sea.

Reuters

AFRICA

Looting, More Violence Reported in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Foreigners evacuated from western Ivory Coast said rebels were looting houses and shooting randomly in the streets in violence that appeared to involve Liberian militants.

French forces flew 160 people, mostly French and Lebanese merchants and business people, from the key cocoa city of Man near the border with Liberia to Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan.

The order to evacuate Man, about 300 miles northwest of Abidjan, came after French troops fought a day-long battle for control of the airport with rebels who have emerged in the formerly unaffected part of the country.

Ten rebels were killed and one French soldier was injured, said Maj. Frederic Thomazo, a French army spokesman in government-held Daloa.

Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer, now is split three ways as a two-month rebel uprising evolves into a war with multiple fronts.

Associated Press

FOR THE RECORD

Russian and Chinese flags flew side by side at Tiananmen Square as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived today in Beijing for a visit he said he hoped would strengthen relations between the two countries as China undergoes a change in leadership. . . . At least seven people froze to death in a cold snap that hit Moscow late last week, according to Russian news reports. Temperatures dipped to minus 4 late Friday in a cold spell unusual for this time of year. . . . The long-serving prime minister of Slovenia, Janez Drnovsek, who has led the former Yugoslav republic closer to the West, won the presidential election in a runoff.